Analysis: Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro on his European F3 role

Following a number of high-profile crashes at Monza and Spa, driving standards in the Formula 3 European Championship have been in the spotlight

Analysis: Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro on his European F3 role

One race at Monza was halted, team managers were summoned by the FIA, drivers have been lectured and three handed bans.

Five-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Emanuele Pirro joined the panel of stewards for the first time at Spa, and spoke to MARCUS SIMMONS about his impressions and the role.

Teams and drivers in the Formula 3 European Championship were almost universally positive about Emanuele Pirro's first weekend as a steward during last weekend's Spa round.

In the wake of the Monza crashfest there was no doubt that driving standards needed improving, yet Formula 1 and Le Mans veteran Pirro carried out the role in conciliatory rather than condemnatory style, including during the drivers' meeting held on Saturday evening after the ghosts of Monza had reared their heads again in race two.

The grid penalty applied to Antonio Giovinazzi after race one and black-flagging of Markus Pommer in race three suggested a desire to switch from punishing drivers for the outcome of a manoeuvre (in both cases they merely delayed Felix Rosenqvist) to tackling the root cause of what could cause an accident; in legal terminology, the focus had switched from the actus reus to the mens rea.

"I'm an incredibly passionate person, and I love motorsport even more than when I started," Pirro explained to AUTOSPORT.

"Somehow I feel that I want to give back what I've had, and also I feel that if there is something to be improved, not that I feel I can change the world, I like to give my contribution.

"If I say that inside me I still feel like a kid, I would be lying, but somehow one part of my heart stopped [ageing] many years ago and I kept the same enthusiasm.

"So when I see this bunch of young kids, I really feel a lot of sympathy for them."

Pirro was genuinely touched when AUTOSPORT told him of the paddock feedback.

"It takes a long time - I said in the briefing room that it will not be built in one day," he said.

"And when you say that this effort is appreciated, I am really, really happy.

"It's easy to punish somebody who is doing something bad.

"If I were a judge, I wouldn't feel bad to put in jail a thief, but most of the infringements here are made out of lack of experience, excessive enthusiasm."

MARCUS SIMMONS: How to tackle driving standards

The banning of Lance Stroll from race three was welcomed by most in the paddock, even if some suggested that, bearing in mind his driving at Monza, it should have been extended to at least one race weekend, if not a licence suspension for a month.

"I'm convinced that he is a good boy and that he didn't want to do anything that he has done," said Pirro.

"I thought about what happened to [Romain] Grosjean here [in the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix], and after he stopped for one race he really became a better driver.

"The stop, in this case, is not really a punishment, but more a time to reflect and think about it.

"You feel in a way not so good to punish them, but also these kids are here to earn a place in motorsport, to earn experience and racecraft, so sometimes being punished can help you to understand better what is possible and what is not possible - it's part of the learning process.

"These people are so young, let me say too young in a way. I think that if you are gifted by mother nature or by God, or whatever you believe in, to drive a race car fast with practice, you can do it at a very early stage in your life.

"But to develop maturity, racecraft, perception of where you are, and how you can stretch the envelope, it's a very psychological game, more than people think. These things take time to learn, and I think that this is what's missing to some of these guys."

Pirro's commitments mean he can't be back until the Hockenheim finale, and the hope is that the progress made at Spa can be maintained over the next four months.

"I feel bad because I'm trying to bring enthusiasm and to build something. Honestly, I feel that already we have achieved quite a bit in terms of understanding what is possible and what is not possible and establishing a relationship.

"This is why I felt it was good to have another meeting on Saturday that was not doorslamming like at Monza, but was just a reminder of what we think it's good to do and what we think isn't good to do.

"Also, I believe you have to develop faith with those who control you, and it takes time, and so I feel bad that next race I will not be there.

"It's like building a house: you've done part of the foundation, and then somebody else comes in. But this is the way it is and I hope that in Hockenheim I will find an even better feeling."

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