Hartstein begins to “Let the world know what’s really going on with the medical side of the FIA”

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Background Information

There are those of you who may not appreciate the history of this story, so I’ll recap in a couple of paragraph’s.

I had been watching the fans FOTA forum and writing some stuff for the blog – eyes glazed from the late night, I stumbled upon a twitter link to @f1doc – the twitter account of Gary Hartstein.Gary took over from Sid Watkins as the senior medical officer for the FIA and on Wednesday 14th November, just before the Austin GP weekend, he tweeted “Not sure about the ‘whys’ of the decision, but not down to me to know. Brazil will therefore be my 247th and last Formual 1 Grand Prix. It’s been a life changing experience and something I’ll never forget” (tj13 article)

I decided to follow Gary on twitter to see if he had any more to say. Over a month later on Dec 17th, Gary did decide to vent his anger and frustration at the situation and began issuing a string of tweets (tj13 article)

Among this explosive twitter barring of the soul, Gary said “It’s taken a while but I’m righteously pissed off. I might launch a crusade (apologies to my muslim followers, sensitive term)…..to get some answers, or get my f**king job back, or let the world know what’s really going on on the medical side of the FIA.”

Clearly Gary has something to say and appears extremely hurt and angry about whatever has gone on. Well, good too his word Gary is starting to tell the world ‘what’s really going on’ with the FIA and their medical division.

Gary begins to ‘tell the world’

Two days ago, Jan 7th,  the tj13 reported there was an FIA leaked a report suggesting they had found a replacement for Gary Hartstein – who replaced the legendary Sid Watkings as ‘F1 doc’. Gary understandably responded to this news fairy badly and here is the transcription of what he said (tj13 article – ‘The mystery behind the sacking of FIA doctor – Gary Hartstein)

Well today Gary is beginning to explain some of the issues within the FIA and their activity – or lack of it – on pertinent medical matters. This twitter revelation is something quite unique – I’ve never seen on twitter such a detailed ‘expose’ by someone of recognition who feels wronged. Gary just a couploe of hours ago begins to explain. (I will link each tweet by a ‘-‘ or a new paragraph).

Harstein’s proposes worldwide project to FIA

“A few years ago I wanted to form an international society of motorsports medicine. Great for info sharing, motivation, networking – Help people at circuits, rallies, hill-climbs to feel less alone, less isolated, part of something bigger. Online forums, experts opinions etc.

 Collected the names and contacts of more than 800 docs, nurses, paramedics ready to join…just from one seasons F1 circuits – Gave the idea to the FIA Institute. What have they done with it? Nothing. Why not? No international organisation for all of us. WHY NOT?

Imagine how many if you add national races, rallies, etc! – The Medicine in Motorsport book was done and dusted for over 2 YEARS but held up for unexplained political reasons before being released – Why? It was so delayed, we had to revise it before final release! Link here, by the way:

Gary posts a link to the FIA. It takes us to a page dated 29.10.2012 and the title is ‘Multi-Language Medicine in Motor Sport’. It reads as follows.

The project near fulfilment

The FIA Institute’s Medicine in Motor Sport book has been published in Arabic and Spanish for the first time. It adds to the version already available in English, which was launched last year, ensuring that it is accessible to most motor sport medical practitioners around the world.

The publication provides medical personnel with an in-depth understanding of a broad range of topics from medical infrastructure at motor sport events to extrication techniques and advice on dealing with motor sport-specific injuries.

The book is not intended for academic study but rather for practical use at motor sport events from karting to Formula One. It presents safe, accepted approaches for the trackside treatment of motor sport trauma patients.  The 250-page book, edited by Formula One Medical Rescue Coordinator Professor Gary Hartstein, brings together medical and motor sport expertise from more than 20 contributors across 10 countries.

Medicine in Motor Sport is split into two parts. The first part, entitled The Motor Sport Environment, provides an overview of the organisation of motor sport, the role of the FIA, the Medical Commission, circuit procedures, racecar types, driver equipment, and the role of the Chief Medical Officer.

The second part, Motor Sport Medicine, outlines detailed medical guidance for all types of accidents and injuries. This includes extrication and primary survey procedures, as well as guidelines for numerous injuries including thoracic injury, abdominal trauma, head injury and spinal trauma.

A second edition of the book is currently being prepared by the FIA Institute and will be published at the end of 2013.


Hartstein is then questioned by Tom Wilkinsonon“Is this book available in hardback Gary? I’d like a copy of it. I read Sid’s book a few years ago, very interesting, great read.” It appears the FIA are going to keep this publication close to their chest from Hartstein’s response. ”They made small print run (I have a copy!) but I’m afraid that neither the PDF or Kindle versions are about it.

Another outrages tweeter, Karla George then asks,  “Gary, What are they playing at? Are you able to tell us what happened with the FIA dropping you? Seems pretty shabby behaviour to me.” For the umpteenth time since I’ve been covering Hartstein’s comments, the ex-F1 doctor accuses the FIA of a vendetta, “I’ve no idea why they did not renew my contract. I was not made aware of any professional shortcomings. Personal enmity I guess”.

Job Specification for the role of FIA doctor

Gary then suggests,

Let’s spend a few tweets talking about what you’re going to want to see in the person who replaces me. At least some of my thoughts on that – Specialty: A&E or Anesthesia. Fully qualified and in active daily practice. Lots of motorsports docs are not, yet have required competencies

But remember that this is a leadership position, interacting with highly qualified people worldwide. So he/she needs “academic” credibility. – Qualifications: at the very least an active ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) Provider’s ticket. Firm notions of PHTLS

Experience: at least 10 years of full-season work at a circuit. Multiple interventions with a scene-command role. Open and closed cars – Preferably someone who has experience with pre-hospital management of road traffic accidents in the “real world.

Because of the role on race weekends, teaching and debriefing skills are mandatory. At least ATLS instructor status. – Current provider of a certified Advanced Life Support course.


Gary’s list of qualities and skills is interupted by Jack Naven who askes Gary, “I don’t understand who out there could have better qualities than you, stupid decision.” We have to remember Gary issued a warning to the FIA about putting F1 safety at risk 2 days ago, but he’s not suggesting he’s the only one who can do the job clearly in his response. “There are lots of great people out there. But instead of being parachuted into F1, a 1-2 yr transition would’ve helped.”

Harstein then continues with his list of criteria for the role of F1 doc.

With this as a set of baseline criteria, I think that one can be confident that there won’t be dramatic lapses.- The rest will come with experience and knowledge of the places and people.

 Just to situate things, I walked around the paddock with Sid, in my blue doctors overalls, for 3-5 years before anyone even said hello to me – It’s a very tight world in there, and one doesn’t gain access or people’s confidence quickly. Just makes it a bit harder, not insurmountable.”

Gary answers open questions

We then get some conversations with people asking Gary questions. Gary is in blue (obviously)

Supa*All* ‏@allstadjYou sound bitter – ‘Just to situate things, I walked around the paddock with Sid, in my blue doctors overalls, for 3-5 years’

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc No that was a great learning experience. Helped to learn the difference between taking my job seriously and taking myself seriously

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc I’m not bitter. I did a good job and only two people don’t agree. I’m angry. Sad not to see friends too often now. Not bitter

Wim Huen @wimhuen Gary, don’t the drivers have anything to say in this?

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc Clearly 1) no one’s listening 2) they don’t care that much 3) powers that be really want me gone!

Wim Huen @wimheun So. We’re you mentoring and developing any of those people who can now take over??

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc No. Wasn’t asked to. That’s, for me, the most ham-handed aspect of this. That the new person was not given any transition into F1

Pollyanna Doodlebug ‏@PollyannaDrews How many people would meet all those criteria?

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc I could make a list of at least 20, all good mates.

Pollyanna Doodlebug ‏@PollyannaDrews So why is there no FIA mentoring/ medical team training/continuity programme? Seems strange for such an important role.

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc Medical Training Working Group was moving towards that and other things. Stopped dead by one of the 2 people who fired me

Pollyanna Doodlebug ‏@PollyannaDrews Oh. (I was intending to write something more eloquent but words fail me.)

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc Ugh. (I was intending to write something more eloquent but words fail me.) 🙂


Wim Huen @wimhuen Gary, don’t the drivers have anything to say in this?

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc Clearly 1) no one’s listening 2) they don’t care that much 3) powers that be really want me gone!

Wim Huen @wimhuen I think this is crazy! They know you, you have the skills and proved it. Like you said, nobody can step in and do this, except you

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc I never said that Wim. Lots of great people. They’d just be at a disadvantage since no transition period.

Wim Huen @wimhuen Keep fighting, hope they will realise what they did. Keep enjoying life though! We will see how things go!

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc Oh I’m not fighting. Just clarifying things I’ve shut up about for a few years. I won’t fight with people who don’t give a shit


Steve Gill ‏@drsjg77 Seems like a complete lack of succession planning, structured handover and short time between appointment & race 1 = drivers at risk?

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc Since they didn’t, it either means they’re so clueless they don’t even know a transition was necessary (worrisome)

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc Or they simply don’t care. And that’s shocking

Gary Hartstein ‏@f1doc The term succession planning implies that I was involved. I wasn’t, I was fired. Period.


So it appears to me like Gary is out to expose the FIA in some manner. I don’t think the whole book issue is particularly clandestine. He appears to be suggesting the FIA are dragging their feet over reform/change on medical matters and that any successor will be ill prepared to take on the role immediately.

Anyway, I expressed my opinions the other day and caught some stick from elsewhere. I know what I think but lets discuss is together  🙂

18 responses to “Hartstein begins to “Let the world know what’s really going on with the medical side of the FIA”

  1. Very thorough summary, thanks. When you take into account the decades spent by Prof Sid Watkins in improving circuit safety, and taking the time to find a suitable successor and induct him carefully into the paddock, you could weep. Shame the teams and rivers couldn’t agree to support Gary on this – a concerted voice from the pit lane would have perhaps made a difference. If only FOTA actually accounted for all of the teams they could have used their influence here.

  2. Presumably one of the two responsible is the invisible frog, but who is the other?

    This is a huge issue. Whatever the FIA do now about replacing Gary, the drivers will feel let down and unsafe.

    • I can only see the story building. I’ve been following it for nearly 2 months and not heard a peep our of the BBC or SKY – yet when they do report it – I’m sure we’ll hear something from the FIA.

  3. Have to admit I haven’t followed the story before and started thinking there might be something “meatier” there, like dopping, brain-stimulants, etc. Nevertheless, still interesting and shows that Todt has been a poor choice (…and this is not the only topic FIA are getting a lot of stick).

    • Think this could be just the beginning of Harstein’s ‘revelations’. Maybe the current info is not that world shattering to us, but it must mean something to those who are aware of what else he knows.

    • Never thought I’d say this, but I think I want Max back! I’m beginning to wonder if Todt’s “invisibility” is due to apathy, or worse, incompetence.

      • How wierd. I was thinking the same over Christmas. The thing I despise Moseley for is selling the commercial rights to his mate for 99 years at a market stall price.

        Other than that – killing off qualy engines and in general knocking sense into everyone when it was required is a far better approach than the self proclaimed’legalist’ who doesn’t just seek consensus – but expects complete uninimity. FANTASY!

  4. 🙂 well done Judge. Discredit the FIA and Todt’s practices, I wonder who really wants to do that in the paddock… Sun Tzu would be impressed with the mystery of Mr.E.

  5. It’s a shame that this role has become such a political position. F1 marginalized certain aspects of the sports (I highly doubt we’ll ever see something like the 1989/1990 Suzuka races ever again) for obvious safety reasons, and yet 2012 had more than enough close calls so what have we gained by giving up so much?

    I don’t think another driver death in F1 is unrealistic, but nobody seems to want to tackle the problem that inexperienced GP2 drivers keep getting dumped into F1 seats. Gary has some good points, but as long as the higher ups at the FIA can paint his campaign as a grudge for losing his job I don’t think he’s the best man to lead the safety charge in motorsports.

    • Fair comment. However, it appears Monsieur Todt hasn’t learnt from the master – who at times has applied the rule, ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’.

      The exact nature of the probable ‘disagreement’ between Gary and the French General we do not know – yet.

  6. Hi Judge. Intriguing story… What are your thoughts about it? Is this about Bernie Ecclestone? But why would Todt and anyone else care about BE? He may be out of F1 and even in jail soon enough… Also, if Gary knows something, it does not seem very smart to let him ‘loose’ with whatever he may know – unless this is exactly what somebody else wants.

    • Don’t get me going. I could write an entire article on the possibilities of this. Having spent many years as a reasonably senior negotiator of large commercial contracts and also negotiated very senior individuals employment contracts worth $100,000’s of thousands even some worth $millions I’ve seen these scenarios played out before.

      I first thought on Dec 17th, Gary was drunk and just having a rant on twitter. However, the recent additions this week are clearly from a calculated individual who is going to attempt to wreak damage on his former employer.

      The first question I ask, is why is Gary doing this – we don’t know but if we accept my premise he is being calculated, then there is a plot to follow.

      The second question is why have the FIA done this? There is absolutely no clue as yet to the trigger point that caused his the conflict between Hartstein and we assume Todt (from his comments). There are many fans saying – its a rolling one year contract, s&*t happens – get over it.

      Technically they are correct, and maybe as a doctor, Hartstein has been naive not to have in place a better legally binding deal which protected him from this short term scenario. Yet people are so happy to be in F1 – protection of employment is the last thing on their minds.

      So why have the FIA have acted this way. I would not expect from the multi-national companies I’ve dealt with for someone of this standing to be on such a contract, but as I’ve suggested F1 can get away with this due to the stardom factor a job within the circus attracts.

      Yet I’ve seen time and time again in periods of intense conflict, those holding the power resort to ‘what can we get away with to get rid of…’ and completely underestimate the consequences of solving the ‘problem’ quickly and suffer far greater long term ramifications.

      Don’t assume the FIA and Todt have acted rationally.

      Has Gary been negligence or just been a poor performer? If this was a remotely justifiable reason, Gary would be lying low and hoping his professional integrity was not about to be ruined.

      Today, it is clear that Gary will chip away at the FIA over attitudes to the medical core and he has begun with something not that interesting to the rest of the F1 world – but I suspect it is a shot across the bows to those in the FIA, those in the know that there is a lot more to come.

      We readily believe that people who accede to power have done so for reasons that are somehow valid and that they must have some level of competence to have made it this far – even if we disagree with their views. But trust me, at times, there are people of utter incompetence in the most senior positions imaginable who have no idea what they are doing.

      Nuff said? For now anyway.

    • Welcome EightM don’t think we’ve spoken before. I have to say I usually have the most suspiscious mind and make connections most don’t see – but I didn’t spot this one.

      I did an in depth piece on Webber and drugs you may be interested in at that time

      Anyway, if we’re looking for potential disputes between Hartstein and the FIA and a single issue flashpoint – I’ve not heard a better idea.

      I do suspect whatever the issue was it had been brewing for some time. It’s unlikely hartstein and Todt fell out and he got sacked a few days later.

      If Gary’s comments are to be believed there are layers of issues he will expose – so this could be the next part of his ‘baring of the soul’

      How long you been reading TJ13 by the way?

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