UNPOPULAR OPINION: F1 should become a spec series!

F1, time for a spec series?

We have come to the end of the 2023 Formula 1 season, bar one race, Abu Dhabi, and Max Verstappen and Red Bull have been dominant, wrapping up the drivers and constructors titles half a dozen races before the finale this weekend. This is not because the Dutchman is just that good, it’s that he has the best car, the Red Bull RB18 and RB19 have been the dominant cars in Formula One for the past 2 years.

Max Verstappen’s nearest competitor is his teammate, Sergio Perez, who wrapped up second place in the drivers’ championship at the Las Vegas GP, after that race, Verstappen’s lead over Perez was 276 points, which means that Verstappen outscored his teammate by an average of 13.14 points per race. Clearly, Verstappen is on a different level from Perez, but it’s rare that two drivers of equal skill drive for the same team, so it’s unsurprising, I’d love to see Hamilton, LeClerc, or Norris partner Verstappen in the Red Bull.

Since 2010, there have only been two teams winning the Constructors championship, in 2010-13 it was Red Bull, in 2014-21 it was Mercedes, and 2022-23 it was Red Bull again, which is likely to continue until the next regulation change in 2026. This is the second issue, when there is a regulation change, often a different team emerges as dominant. Mercedes became dominant in the generation of the V6 hybrid turbo formula from 2014, and Red Bull in the return to ground effects aerodynamics in 2022.

So, these are the facts, and my view is that we need to abandon the idea of F1 being the pinnacle of motorsport innovation, for the show, the sport needs to move towards a highly regulated spec series formula, where all teams basically run the same engine, chassis and electronics, creating a situation where the driver is the main factor in deciding who wins races. I understand that my view is a minority one, but F1’s biggest growth period was in 2021 when Hamilton and Verstappen went at it hammer and tongs, coming down to the last race of the season to decide it, in this case, in a controversial way.

In 2023, one driver, Max Verstappen has won 18 of the 21 races run so far, and you would not bet against him claiming a 19th race win in Abu Dhabi. Outside of the hardcore fans, who would want to watch a race where the winner is almost predetermined, barring any mechanical issues or crashes. I’ve been watching F1 since 1987, and in recent years, I’m a casual watcher, often watching the 30 minute highlights.

In the past, I would get up early, or stay up late to watch races live, including the pre-show and post-show programs, and I’m considering skipping 2024 altogether. When I watch a football game, I genuinely do not know who is going to win, but in F1, even if the top driver in the top car starts from 15th place, you still expect him to finish on the podium, if not win outright, this is not what any sport should be.

This was proven by the lackluster ticket sales for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, initially, tickets were selling for over $1,600, with reports of prices being slashed by over 80% for some sessions as the race weekend approached, I believe that F1 is overpriced and underwhelming, especially in the US races, you’re not going to attract new fans when the races are predictable and overpriced, especially in today’s market. This is even more true when the race organizers cannot ensure that practice sessions start on time because they failed to secure manhole covers, destroying the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, and then forcibly ejecting paying attendees before the second session eventually started hours late at 2:30am local time.

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