A few weeks ago, Lewis Hamilton sealed his fifth Formula One world title, and his forth in the last five years. Aside from his own success being a nice reminder that Britain can still dominate at a sport of any real significance, sorry cycling. But for me, and many others as well, it was the continuation of a worrying trend within the sport.
Now, despite what the title of this article might suggest, I do not hate formula one or motor racing in any way. Far from it, I’ve actually been watching for over ten years, to varying levels of interest. However, I think there is a systemic problem in F1, that has greatly curtailed my interest. The concept of a title race is somewhat non-existent. Out of Hamilton’s five world titles, only two of them have gone to the final race and only two teams have had a driver win the world championship in the last eight years. It has become a monotonous monopoly.
I am no expert in Formula One, and many of the die-hard fans probably love the current system. Each to their own. But I think that it is pretty stale watching Hamilton go from pole to the top step for the tenth weekend in succession. This issue stems from the sport not understanding what it is supposed to be measuring. In tennis, it is which player is the best and in football it is which team is the best. Everything else is largely the same between all competitors, be it same equipment or number of players. But Formula One attempts to measure both, giving a major advantage to the drivers on teams with deeper pocket. You wouldn’t tolerate a boxing match in which one competitor had a third mechanical arm that couldn’t be blocked, so why does it happen in Formula One?
Under the current set-up, what is actually being judged is which constructor is the best and which driver is the best, but the only trophy anybody cares about is the driver’s world championship. Yet, this isn’t really a fair reflection. I can take a stab and guess that Lewis Hamilton is a better driver than Sergey Sirotkin, but we will never really know, because Sirotkin’s Williams is barely in the same league at the Mercedes of Hamilton.
Henceforth, I present a relatively radical pair of proposals. First, a complete revamp in which each car is given to the team. They should be exactly the same and they may only make a few small, regulated adjustments, to really find out who is the best. Or, if people really are wedded to the current model, remove tyre changes and reintroduce fuel stops, so if somebody is going to be leading from the front the whole time. At least we will be able to enjoy some juicy crashes and fires, which we all know is the best part of racing anyway.