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Opinion

Formula One fans, we need to talk

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Roar Guru
6th November, 2020
25

Arrogant. Obnoxious. Naïve.

These are just some of the comments directed at me for having a positive outlook when it comes to the current state of Formula One.

While such comments are an indictment of how the standards of debating have slipped in recent times, they are understandably born out of frustration that this season has more or less been a one-horse race with Mercedes once again running away with the championship.

The start of this decade is a far cry from the start of the last one with the 2010 season seeing five drivers in contention for the world championship.

Since then, there have been two dominant spells from Red Bull and Mercedes with only three out of the nine seasons between 2011 and 2019 going down to the wire. And two of those were between former Mercedes teammates, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, in 2014 and 2016.

This season will be the fourth consecutive season in which the title has been decided long before the final race, despite Sebastian Vettel’s title challenges in 2017 and 2018, both of which failed to go the distance.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel on the track

Sebastian Vettel. (Photo by Pablo Guillen/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Regulation changes have come and gone, having been unable to do much to shake things up.

Not that the FIA can do anything about teams failing to step up to the plate.

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Ferrari were better than Mercedes last season at power-sensitive circuits and the Honda power unit in the back of the Red Bull was giving Max Verstappen the ability to give both the Scuderia and the Silver Arrows a run for their money.

Mercedes knew there were improvements to be made to combat the threat posed by Ferrari and they have come into this season with a stronger package.

Meanwhile, Ferrari have been hampered by the aftermath of the investigation into the power unit they used last year, which raised questions over its legality.

Simply put, Mercedes have just been better than everybody else this season.

That brings us to the here and now.

The 2020 Formula One season has hardly been the ideal advertisement for how good the sport is, owing to the almost non-existent battle for the race win.

At seven out of the 13 races held so far this season, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen have been together on the podium.

Lewis Hamilton

(Photo by Mario Renzi – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

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That’s the perfect statistic to illustrate how predictable it has been out front.

However, change is afoot.

Next season will see the introduction of new sporting regulations, designed to make Formula One more egalitarian with a new budget cap of US$145 million (A$199.3 million) coming into force.

For reference, it is estimated that Mercedes spent £380 million (A$685.6 million) on their title campaign in 2019 with Ferrari spending £400 million (A$721.7 million) and Red Bull spending £270 million (A$487.1 million) compared to the midfield teams who spend between £125 million (A$225.5 million) and £190 million (A$342.8 million).

The 2022 season will see the delayed introduction of the new technical regulations, which I explained in detail along with the new sporting regulations when they were both announced last November.

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I may be content with what I’m seeing this season in Formula One but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see competitive racing and, if possible, a greater spread of drivers who appear on the podium, particularly from the smaller teams.

For instance, the Supercars Championship saw 14 drivers appear on the podium at some stage this season.

Regardless of whether that number has been skewed by the SuperSprint format that Supercars was forced to use for all races bar the Adelaide 500 – which was held before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold – and the Bathurst 1000, there is always variety to be found in Supercars, something that Formula One is aiming for, as long as the title protagonists can still shine through.

While those who have disagreed with my comments about how Formula One is not a snoozefest and doesn’t need to be changed much have raised some good points, there hasn’t been much talk about what specifically needs to be done in the future to improve the sport.

Therefore, I am giving Roarers the opportunity to have their say on the current state of Formula One and its future through this survey. Feel free to add topics of discussion in the comments section if you think there is anything else that should be addressed.

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