Thought I could sit back and enjoy watching Formula 1 this season. But the stewards put a stop to that. Pushing Lewis Hamilton from pole position to last, got me thinking.
What is a steward? I looked it up, just to make sure I wasn’t living in cloud cuckoo land. The OED says on a ship or plane a steward “looks after passengers”. There’s no room for a steward in a racing car. And the Formula 1 stewards don’t appear to be looking after Hamilton. Is there another meaning for ‘steward’? Of course, there must be. This is English, not Spanish. .
A steward is “an official appointed to supervise arrangements at a large public event”. (OED). Aha! A ‘large public event’: A race would fall into that category. ‘Supervise arrangements’? Like what time the race starts. Where the public may sit. Allocating spaces to the various team engineers.
But penalising a driver for running out of petrol? Taking the driver from pole to last position on the grid? Come on, who is monitoring the stewards ? Do we need a kind of Leveson Enquiry to look at Formula 1?
What is an Enquiry? OED to the rescue: an enquiry is “an act of asking for information”.
What questions would an Enquiry into Formula 1 ask? Aah! (1) Which drivers do the stewards have an interest in? (2) Are stewards permitted to place bets on drivers? (3) Which drivers have the engineers, teams, etc placed bets on? (4) As in boxing, is there any chance of a driver taking a dive? (5) As in cricket, can a ‘captain’ decide to fix a match? Why else these odd decisions: ‘Stop the car’. ‘Let the other driver overtake you’ etc.
Now why is it called Formula 1? I don’t know. Back to my faithful old OED and time for a laugh. According to OED formula is “a rule or style unintelligently followed.” Doesn’t that say it all for the stewards of Formula 1?
The McLaren boss looked so embarrassed. I’ve never seen him fighting passionately in Hamilton’s corner against all the punishment meted out to him by stewards around the racing world.
It seems to me the stewards are trying to teach Hamilton how to conduct himself on the track with the commentators comparing Hamilton’s ‘behaviour’ this time round, with that in the past. It stinks of paternalism. Hamilton has a dad who did quite a good job thank you very much.
Our focus should be on Formula 1 and whether the sport needs rules to control the stewards’ bias and financial interests, and checks on the loyalty of the teams.
Congratulations to Pastor Maldonado.