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Formula One: A Dreary Sport I Can Give Up Following

March 27th, 2016 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Motor racing, The National

In the suite of British sports, Formula One auto racing is something like the No. 4 competition. Behind soccer, cricket and rugby … but not much else.

They don’t seem to mind that the sport is shockingly dull and depressingly predictable, featuring entire races in which the pole-sitter is never headed.

One team tends to dominate proceedings and in the past six years it has been Mercedes (two championships) or Red Bull (the previous four).

So, anyway, I paid no attention to the approach of the first race of the 2016 calendar, and had no idea what happened in Australia a week ago and would have remained in that state of blissful ignorance … had not Fernando Alonso crashed spectacularly.

Here is YouTube video of the crash, during which we find that announcers had no idea what had happened for several minutes.

And if you want to study things a bit more leisurely, here is a photo gallery of the wreck and its aftermath.

So, that is how I came to learn of the Australian Grand Prix, first race of the 21-race F1 schedule.

Meanwhile, the race …

The Mercedes cars started 1-2 after the new, amazingly dull qualifying process, then finished 1-2 in the race, as per usual.

In 39 races over the past two seasons (plus one race), the Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have won 33 times. Only Daniel Riccairdo (three wins for Red Bull in 2014) and Sebastian Vettel (three wins for Ferrari last year) have interrupted the Mercedes dominance.

One thing we do not want to know, when we tune into a race, is who is going to win, but that has been standard operating procedure for F1 for three seasons now.

In 2013, Vettel won 13 races, including the final nine in succession, to win the championship by miles.

Americans who grew up with Nascar or even Indy cars, often mock F1 and its insistence it is the greatest form of racing in the world. F1 has the glamorous world tour, but if you want competitive racing, you’ve come to the wrong shop, as the Brits would say.

A former colleague, Aaron Gray, who is still in Abu Dhabi, after this year’s typically hectic Daytona 500 wrote: “It is safe to say there was more action in that single race compared to the entire 2015 Formula One season.”

Yes. Quite easy to say.

So, only four men have won an F1 race over the past 39 events.

Nascar had four race winners in its first four races of 2016, and in 2015 no fewer than 13 men won at least one race, and three more finished second at least once. Check the results.

F1 is dying for that sort of competition.

Inside the sport, they know things are going wrong. Ahead of the first race, the drivers collectively called for new leadership, perhaps concerned that Bernie Ecclestone, the man who runs the sport, is 85 and perhaps no longer up to getting things right.

A sign of that would be the stupefying qualifying plan instituted at Australia, which everyone knew was ridiculous, before the race — and then it went on anyway.

F1 is a badly run sport, rarely competitive, quite predictable, and has set the bar so low for “entertainment” that two changes of the lead constitutes a crazy-wild race and one semi-decent wreck can salvage an otherwise yawn-inducing race like Australia’s.

I am no great fan of Nascar, with its suspicious late yellow flags and 500 miles of nose-to-tail drafting … but the top racing competition in the U.S. has F1 beat all to hell and back.



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