And the winner of the Chinese F1 grand prix was…of course it was…Lewis Hamilton. Britain’s least charismatic sportsman, always assuming you regard F1 as a sport and not a tedious procession, may well be the best driver who drives the fastest car, but Christ, why would anyone watch it?
Obviously, thousands of people do watch it, unlike the millions who used to watch F1 on terrestrial telly. I confess that for a brief period of my life, the one when Ayrton Senna was racing, I actually watched F1. Not in the way of obsessive football supporter attend-every-single-game-at-the-expense-of-anything-else I used to be, you understand. Just when I was in.
Part of Senna’s great appeal was that he was, according to people who know about these things, a truly great driver. Even when he was not blessed with the best car, Senna was still competitive in a daring, carefree kind of way. Things are so different today.
Hamilton cannot be blamed for driving the best car. Any driver, given half a chance, would do the same. And he cannot be blamed for being such a dullard off the track, with his new fangled mid Atlantic drawl. The thing I dislike about him, above everything, and this is something he can help, is his active, though regrettably legal, tax-dodging. But back to the point.
F1 experts know the statistics better than I do and, to be honest, I am not enthusiastic enough to trawl through them to find out what we already know: that it’s almost unheard of for a team other than Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull to get on, or be anywhere near, the podium. Quite what the midfield teams and the back markers get out of F1 is utterly beyond me. Even if Hamilton is the best driver, it is hard to believe the rest are so bad they end up being lapped most weeks. No. Having a relatively crap car is a major factor in all this.
So, as the F1 roadshow/procession makes its dreary way around the various despotic countries of the world, I’ll watch and listen to something else. I actually do like America’s Indycar where – and wait for this – different cars and different teams actually win and there is frequent overtaking.
F1 probably had a golden era sometime in the past. In these times of the winner usually being known as cars exit the very first bend, this is not a golden era. It’a barely sport, either.