December 21, 2014

In support of Gary Hartstein

I'm republishing the text of Dr. Hartstein's  open letter to Gerard Saillant, the head of the FIA institute.  Saillant is the head medical person in the FIA, a position previously held by Sid Watkins.

The FIA has a problem with Hartstein voicing his opinions of a his blog and has gone out of its way attempted to take away his livelihood and passion by having him fired from the hospital he practices in.

This small minded bureaucrat style thinking is pathetic and another sign a generational shift is sorely needed within the motorsport's world governing body which is now just as sad as the IOC and FIFA.


An open letter to Gérard Saillant (oh yeah Jean Todt too)
Dear Gérard,

Imagine my surprise at learning that you were in my hospital last week. You actually got on the train from Paris to come here to Liège! It’s a pity you didn’t call me ahead of the visit – we could have had a cup of coffee. Or you could have beeped me to say hi once you got here. But I guess that actually being face to face with someone is not your style. Come to think of it, it never really has been, has it? You did fire me via email!

Imagine my surprise to learn that despite having heard nothing from you or your boss since being fired, YOU ACTUALLY CAME TO MY HOSPITAL BECAUSE OF ME. You made an appointment with the Dean of my medical faculty, to speak about me. Then travelled 2 1/2 hours . . . for me. I’d be flattered if I wasn’t so . . . shocked. But let’s not dwell on the fun we could have had together in Liège, and look instead at what exactly you came here for. I think it’s important that people understand just how you and your boss work.

You came here to try to get me fired.

Not from the job you already fired me from. That one was basically a hobby. A very serious, very time-intensive hobby. No, now you’re aiming higher. You and your boss want me fired from the job that pays my rent. The one I’ve held for 25 years. Wow. Were you wearing a black trench coat and fedora? Maybe I’m glad I wasn’t there. Perhaps you also had instructions to break my knees!

You came here with a dossier consisting of printed copies of my blog posts. And a copy of a personal email TO ME (!!!) from Corinna Schumacher. OMG. An email I actually never received. Probably because it was addressed to “garry.hartstein@…”. Seriously? I get scores of emails EVERY DAY from people all over the world who spent all of 30 seconds finding my email address. But the wife of one of the world’s most famous and wealthy sportsmen isn’t capable of carrying out that difficult task? You’ve got to be kidding me. Hell, dude, even YOU (trusted advisor to “the family”) had my email (again, that’s how you fired me!).

You came here to raise the issue of whether THIS blog violated my contract at work and could therefore be a reason to fire me, or at least to muzzle me.

Now you worry me. Maybe you should sit down. That’s better. Let’s talk.

Let’s just look at the facts, ok?

1) This blog makes no claim to represent the opinions of anyone other than myself. And while my bio may mention that I studied and work at the University Hospital of Liège, no other mention is made of this fact. All blog-related activity, then, is part of my personal life. Period.

2) Doctor-patient confidentiality is never violated, for two pretty good reasons. First of all, Michael is not and (other than the stuff that came up over 15 years of F1) never has been my patient. Second, I make perfectly clear that NONE of what I wrote in the days, weeks, and months following Michael’s accident was based on anything other than conjecture and experience.

3) When opinions are expressed, they are clearly identified as such, and are never presented with an intent to harm. This intent is abundantly clear, and is even explained on numerous occasions.

So you see, Gérard, if you’d have put your thinking cap on before flitting off to “le Paris du nord”, you’d have realised the absurdity of your project. My blog has nothing to do with my job. In fact, things like “privacy”, and “free expression” come to mind – not as sterile principles, but as LAWS THAT YOU ARE ON THE CUSP OF VIOLATING. You and your boss.

You have acted like a hoodlum. What you have done was not unexpected, but was thuggish and disgusting. You might wear expensive suits and a Patek Philippe, but your tactics are from the gutter.

Be aware that I’ve referred the “dossier” you handed over to the Dean to my attorney. You are on very very thin legal ice.

Word to the wise?

Shut up, back off, and watch out.


  1. His previous blog entry about the Bianchi report probably explains why the FIA and Saillant are not very happy

  2. Not justified by any means (if true) are the actions of Saillant and Todt. BUT. Gary Hartstein went into quite intimate and personal territories as far as the Schumacher family is concerned (advising them what to do and what information to release). While he is claiming to be an impartial doctor, he simultaneously expresses his stubborn personal opinion on other people's privacy choices. That's unacceptable for a professional that he is. A practising physician even! I would not want to be in the place of any of his patients if he treats them like that. It's none of his business if we look at the situation objectively. It's none of the fans' business either and certainly it's none of the random anonymous Internet users who comment and who never cared for either F1 or the drivers Schumacher/Bianchi's business.


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