‘THIS is all totally new’.

Formula 1 Steward Steve Stringwell is a veteran of big races but even he admits the current season’s calendar, hastily re-arranged due to COVID-19, is something that is unheard of.

Steve, whose ‘day job’ is being a driving instructor in Otley, has been Chair of the support race stewards at the British Grand Prix since 2005 - and officiating at F1 Grand Prix since 2012.

He is currently at Silverstone where he is helping to (literally) ‘keep in line’ the world’s fastest drivers as they race in two Grands Prix over two consecutive weekends.

He spoke to the Wharfedale & Aireborough just before taking part in the British Grand Prix, on Sunday, August 2, and looking ahead to travelling back to Silverstone a few days later for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday, August 9.

He said: “It’s fair to say that this year has been very different and having two big races happening back to back like this is all totally new.

“It’s been a different year for everybody because of COVID-19.

“We’ve all been wearing masks and sanitising regularly and I’m in a bubble with two other stewards so we’ve been travelling in a separate car, eating together and not mixing with anyone else - which is very unusual but it’s just what needs to happen to stop the virus spreading and to keep everyone safe.

“It’s the ‘new normal’ they keep talking about.

“There are no spectators at motorsport at all just now so it is also very strange to see Silverstone as an absolute ghost town when it’s usually so busy.”

Steve is also a Leeds Magistrate and thinks the three strands of his life complement each other pretty well.

He said: “They dovetail into one another because being a magistrate is a bit like being a steward in that you’re one of the judges, and when you’re teaching people to drive it’s all about the rules.

“Stewarding is very rewarding and I’ve certainly been travelling the world for the past 15 or 16 years and have seen a lot of lovely places.”

A motorsport fan since he can remember, he has little enthusiasm for other sports - as he’s told more than one person. He said: “I use to say that if you had David Beckham and Ronaldo playing football at Garnett’s field in Otley and three lads racing on lawnmowers on the other side of the field, I’d be over watching the lawnmowers!”

Although the atmosphere at this year’s races has been very unusual due to the lack of crowds, Steve does not think that really hampers the drivers’ performance.

He said: “Racing and wanting to come first is in the blood of the drivers.”

Steve started off as a motorsports marshal in 1967 - when he also had a rallying career that lasted more than a decade - and then, over the years, worked his way up through the ranks.

In his stewarding role Steve has overseen many different racing series including Porsche Supercup and British Touring Cars.

He has also helped the stewarding process for support races at the British Grand Prix weekend since 2005, and stewarded his first F1 race in Australia 2012.

Steve is a permanent Steward of the Porsche Supercup Series too where his commitment to adjudicating over broken rules has earned him the nickname Judge Dredd.