I can easily contain myself having heard the news that the new Formula One season is about to begin. Cars from as many as one of only ten competing teams have the remotest chance of becoming “world” champions. Has motor racing ever been more dull?
Yes, I know that F1 is a British success story in that most of the teams are based in the UK, that many of the brilliant engineers and designers are British, that it directly employs over 50,000 people in good jobs. But it’s still shit.
Things were not always better in the old days, but in motor racing they were. I grew up in an era when drivers had personalities – you know, were interesting to watch and listen to. Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell – oh, hang on: forget him because he was as dull as ditchwater – were household names in households other than their own and some of them had star quality and charisma. Fast forward to now and we have dullards like Lewis Hamilton and 19 other blokes your average punter on the Clapham Omnibus has ever heard of.
And just think: the decline in interest in F1 started when the sport – if you can call it a sport – was on terrestrial TV. The figures were good on the BBC, less so on C4, they will be in the hundreds of thousands, rather than many millions – on Sky. For many years, the races haven’t been races, merely a spread out procession with a couple of top teams way ahead of the others.
It is obvious that every race will follow the same procedure which is that the driver who leads on the first bend will normally win the race. As modern racing cars rarely break down, the fastest car will win. I cannot believe that if the bloke on the back of the grid was allowed to drive the fastest car, he wouldn’t win in it and if dreary old Hamilton was driving the worst car, he’d be near the back of the field.
So, in Australia next week it will be the same old boring F1. Hamilton will probably win in the fastest car and nothing much will happen. Worse still for the “sport”, no one is talking about it. Go to your local and you will not find groups of chaps pontificating as to who will win the next Grand Prix, More likely, you will find that most people don’t know and don’t care.
Motor racing was always a minority sport that occasionally attracted the interest of floating sports fans. No more. It will only be petrol heads who pay to watch Sky – no casual viewer will bother to watch. See also cricket and now golf.
I used to tune in to F1 races just for the first lap and maybe for the last few, but why bother now?