Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has called upon the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into the decision-making process for race penalties. Hamilton’s statement follows a recent incident in Singapore where Red Bull driver Max Verstappen avoided grid penalties despite being investigated for multiple infractions during qualifying. The British racing star expressed his desire to see if AI technology could enhance the accuracy and consistency of steward decisions.
In the lead-up to the Singapore Grand Prix, Max Verstappen found himself under scrutiny for three separate offenses during the qualifying session. Surprisingly, he escaped grid penalties and received only reprimands for his actions. One of the incidents involved Verstappen impeding Yuki Tsunoda on the track, sparking dissatisfaction among several team representatives who believed a more severe penalty was warranted.
During discussions at the Japanese Grand Prix, the FIA openly admitted to making an incorrect judgment in the Verstappen case. It was conceded that the lack of communication from the Red Bull team to Verstappen should not have been a mitigating factor in his favor. Despite this acknowledgement, Lewis Hamilton remained unsatisfied with the resolution.
Hamilton’s call for AI integration
Responding to questions from reporters at Suzuka, Lewis Hamilton expressed his dissatisfaction with the stewarding decisions, emphasizing the need for modernization in the sport’s rule enforcement. Hamilton suggested the implementation of artificial intelligence to assist stewards in making more precise and consistent judgments. He stated, “That rule has been the same for ages; I think we need to start looking into AI for this sort of thing so we get good decisions. I would like to see whether AI could do a better job or not.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, George Russell, echoed the sentiment, describing the recent stewarding decisions as “strange” and emphasizing the importance of consistency. The idea of AI assistance in decision-making has gained traction within the Formula 1 community, with some advocating for a dedicated panel of stewards to ensure consistent rulings.
Proposal to abolish rotation system
One proposed reform is to eliminate the current rotation system and establish a fixed panel of stewards to adjudicate every race. This proposal aims to address the issue of inconsistency in decision-making. Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has been among those advocating for this change. However, Steiner found himself in hot water with the stewards after referring to them as “laymen” during discussions of the proposal. He later clarified that his remarks were not intended to offend but still received an official reprimand.
The introduction of artificial intelligence into the realm of Formula 1 stewarding presents an intriguing possibility. AI systems have demonstrated their capacity to process vast amounts of data rapidly and make objective decisions based on predefined criteria. In the context of racing penalties, AI could provide an impartial assessment of incidents, eliminating human biases and ensuring greater consistency in the enforcement of rules.
However, the adoption of AI in Formula 1 stewarding would not be without its challenges. Developing AI algorithms that can accurately evaluate complex racing incidents is a formidable task. Ensuring transparency and fairness in the AI’s decision-making process would also be essential. The role of human stewards in overseeing AI-generated decisions and maintaining the sport’s integrity would need to be carefully defined.