Is Formula 1 becoming too boring?

Image from Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool.

Holding a 13.7-second lead over his opponent and dominating the track for most of the race, Max Verstappen once again secured a victory at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 21st. The Dutch driver has been incredibly successful this season, standing on the podium’s top step for four out of five races. His continued dominance over the sport begs the question: are Formula 1 races becoming too dull and predictable? 

Verstappen, paired with a car that can only be called a rocket ship, secured his sixth consecutive pole position in the previous day’s qualifying with a time of 1:33.660. Almost three-tenths of a second higher than his teammate, Verstappen continued to dominate for the entirety of the race, finishing 13.773 seconds clear of McLaren driver Lando Norris. This is Verstappen’s 58th victory in the championship; however, he draws the ire of motorsport enthusiasts and racing fans worldwide. 

Diehard fans of the 74-year-old championship have expressed dissatisfaction, with racing fan Divya Mohanty lamenting how “it is disappointing waking up early every other week and [not] wondering who’s [going to] be on the podium because we already know who is going to win in ‘the pinnacle of motorsport.”

Verstappen’s success in the sport is not unique—Lewis Hamilton won 7 World Championships throughout his career, with four wins in a row between 2017 and 2020. However, Hamilton’s racing is much more interesting for viewers to watch, with Mohanty saying that “what made [Formula 1] bearable was that he was still fighting for wins.” This is not the case with the three-time world champion, who constantly finishes well ahead of the pack every race. 

For many fans, the only races that seem worth watching are the ones in which Max Verstappen does not finish, with the Australian Grand Prix marking his first retirement in two years. With an early retirement caused by a brake failure, Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc got a 1-2 victory in Melbourne. Sainz’s first race after having his appendix removed during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, racing fans were finally able to hear something other than the Dutch national anthem during the awards ceremony. However, some fans still found the race boring, with Sainz staying in P1 the entire time after Max’s early retirement. 

Some blame can be placed on the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, which moderates and publishes regulations that make up the “Formula” in Formula 1. The FIA also chooses potential race locations, with different settings providing a different level of joy for the viewer. 12-year racing fan Ojas Sathe disagrees with the FIA’s picks, saying, “there are some significant things that they need to fix immediately. First and foremost, the street circuits. […] Races like Miami are simply there for money as a tiny percentage of the fans actually like the track. With that, they leave out amazing race tracks that deserve their spots on the calendar. Circuits that many fans grew up watching, such as Sepang, Hockenheim, Nurburgring, Istanbul Park, and many more.” 

The FIA’s rule changes were also the reason behind RedBull’s domination. Following the Formula 1 rule change in 2022, which allowed ground effects to be returned to cars, reducing drag and bolstering speeds and lap times, Red Bull has dominated racing, finishing races seconds ahead of their competition. 

There is a bright side to Verstappen’s unstoppable driving—viewers’ focus shifts to watching the fight for different positions on the grid. The four-way conflict between Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, and Sergio Perez for P3 during the Shanghai Sprint was a thrilling experience, becoming the highlight of the race. Other conflicts throughout the grid have begun to be highlighted, especially because Verstappen is always miles ahead of any competition. Sathe expressed how he continues to enjoy watching races, by paying attention to how “Carlos Sainz has had an incredible start to the season […], McLaren is fighting to get out of the midfield, and Aston Martin aims to maintain their newfound pace from last season, all while Mercedes fights to remain relevant after massive performance loss and losing their star driver for next season. It’s definitely fun to follow.”

Overall, Max Verstappen’s spectacular racing only makes racing more interesting, turning attention away from “who will win” and focusing on all parts of the race, from P2 to P20. 

Atharva Sonune, currently in his Junior Year, has had a diverse upbringing that spans India, Ohio, and California. Embarking on his inaugural year at the paper, Atharva brings a fervent curiosity for journalism. His passions encompass a wide array of topics, including emerging technology, economics, and politics. Beyond the world of writing, Atharva actively engages as a dedicated DECA member, is interested in guitar, and loves to edit videos. He wishes to hone his photography skills and is currently focusing on getting ready for college applications next year.

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