Craig Baird has explained his philosophy in the performance of his role as Supercars’ Driving Standards Advisor, and why he sometimes resists his preference to adjudicate on incidents in-race.
Baird progressed from the DSA position in Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia to Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, and has held the Supercars role since 2017.
It was at the end of that season when he was called on to adjudicate on the Scott McLaughlin-Craig Lowndes incident which played a major role in the final championship outcome.
On that occasion, Baird made the decision within the final two laps, consistent with his desire to see that the results at the time of the chequered flag are those that are ultimately made final.
While that is more likely nowadays due to the introduction of Hawk-Eye vision capture technology, he reasons that it is still sometimes better to wait for more information before determining if a penalty should be issued.
Said Baird on the latest episode of PodcastOne Australia’s Rusty’s Garage podcast, “I can have a decision that’s absolutely clear in anyone’s mind up and down the pit lane…
“I’ve done it before, where you sit at home, and you go, ‘Yeah, that’s exactly that; that’s what it is’.
“Then you get Hawk-Eye (operator) saying, ‘Well, have a look from this angle; we’ve got a helicopter shot’, (which) may have never even got to TV, ‘Have a look at the onboard’, ‘Have a look at this’…
“It may not look right at home sometimes, but the tools we have to try and work out who’s right and who’s wrong are very, very good.
“Sometimes I’ll watch something on TV and you see inside a garage, someone will say, ‘It’s so easy, this is what the result is, why isn’t the penalty given in-race?’
“It only takes someone like the Race Director just to say, ‘Hey did you notice here? It looks like so and so speared him in the door, but I don’t think that spun him. I think he’s been hit from behind. There’s another element to it.’
“We want it played within the whistles, that is our brief from our CEO. Sean Seamer is very adamant, we don’t want results changed after the event.
“We try and do things in-race, but if I’m not sure… some things may look very, very simple on TV; when you’ve got eight different angles of it and you need an onboard, or you need some data, just park it, because once I’ve hung someone, it’s very hard to pump a bit of oxygen in them; once you’ve had the hanging, it’s done.
“So, as much as we can do it in-race at the moment, there’s the odd one where you’ve just got to hold off just in case.”
Baird also moved to address the notion that drivers should be given far greater freedom on the race track, arguing that he faces a balancing act between allowing hard racing and other considerations.
“Some people will say you don’t need a ref; could you imagine our sport if there was no rules, with no ref?” he said.
“All the teams would be broke after two weekends, there’d be a lot of injuries… it just couldn’t happen.
“It’s easy for people to laugh and joke and say we don’t need it, just bring the biff back, get on with it.
“In this era, people are accountable and it starts with, I guess, my boss in Tim Schenken. Everyone’s got a duty of care.
“Yep, we want some good, hard racing, and I’m all for that. I’m actually on the drivers’ side, more so. People don’t understand this (but) I would rather not give a penalty.
“I always try and let them get on with their own game but if someone’s clearly gained an advantage from contact, you’ve got to reverse the positions or a penalty may apply; it’s as simple as that.”
See below for both parts of the Craig Baird episode of Rusty’s Garage