For someone who grew up watching Hakkinen and Schumacher famously battle it out for on track supremacy and greatness, a true fan of F1 can only despair at the way the sport has drearily deteriorated in the last few years. Back in the late nineties the flying Finn and German ace would turn up at each race weekend and fight from the first practice session on the Friday all the way to the Chequered flag being raised on the Sunday. It was never clear who had the advantage at the different tracks and often any pre-race predictions went straight out the window once the five red lights went out.
The cars of that era were louder, faster and just generally better than the ones competing now. I appreciate from a technical point of view the modern day equivalents are exceptional in terms of the technology applied. But from a fans perspective who want none stop action and racing the new Formulae are dreadful. Through no fault of the drivers or teams the cars are always kept within their limits to preserve their equipment for as many events as possible due to the excessive and suffocating grip the FIA’s rules have over each team. Therefore during races you will hear teams asking their drivers to ‘preserve’ their tyres or turn the engine down and this is why the cars are over five seconds a lap slower than they were ten years ago.
All of this has culminated into a dreadful spectacle. A lot of British fans have, wrongly, convinced themselves that because a British driver is currently winning races regularly that the sport is good to watch. It is not. It is no better than when Vettel and Red Bull won everything in their sight for four straight years. If anything it is worse. This was a period most British fans found frustrating and cast a large haze of suspicion over the German champion that his dominance was solely due to the superior technology at his disposal. In fairness to Vettel two of his championship winning years (2010, 2012) were some of the best the sport has seen. At the last race during his first title triumph it was mathematically possible that one of four drivers could win the championship. During the Hamilton and Mercedes dominance this has never been the case.
Hamilton has crushed his team mate Nico Rosberg in 2015 and in fairness it was only due to bad luck that it was not the case last year. Make no mistake Hamilton is a deserved three time world champion and it would have been wrong if he had retired with only his 2008 title triumph to his name. He has amassed 43 victories to Vettel’s 42 both astonishing achievements. Although it is interesting that the two have never fought each other for a world title despite the rivalry on paper and considering that they are the premier champions of their time this is strange.
Another strange point is the perception that Vettel cannot fight on track and only wins when leading from the front. Proponents of this absurd conclusion have clearly never seen the incredible move at the Italian Grand Prix where the German overtook Alonso around the outside of the Curva Biassono at over 150mph. Arguable one the greatest moves of all time in Formula 1.
What does Formula 1 need to improve? It needs competition. I don’t think many people will mind where it comes from but fans need another one or two teams to challenge the Mercedes cars. If Red bull can rectify their engine concerns and Ferrari continues their development into next year then 2016 could be a great season. If not then fans are in for: another one driver; one team dictating narcolepsy inducing 9 months.
In yesterday’s Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying Nico Rosberg made it five pole positions in a row with his Mercedes team mate 0.078 seconds behind in second. Will Hamilton win? With the way this year has been who really cares?