In what can only be termed as brutal honesty probably never seen before in any other sport, defending Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has admitted that the sport has lost its charm for the viewers and strongly criticized the FIA, the governing body for its colossal failure to make the races exciting.
What did Hamilton say?
Speaking after winning the French Grand Prix, his sixth win in eight races, Hamilton was quite pessimistic about the future of the sport unless large-scale changes were made to make it more competitive. He recently attended a World Motorsport Council meeting in Paris to discuss the situation, but that has only made him more uncertain. He said,” How it’s set up, just from watching when I was there, it’s not good – really not good. They won’t like me saying that. I see the mess we’re in, I see it every year.”
He further continued, stating” I empathize with fans watching and thinking ‘ugh’ about a race like Sunday’s. I race my heart out, but it might not be so exciting to watch. That’s why I committed to going to the meeting.” And he has a point, since the start of 2017 only two drivers outside the top three teams have had a podium finish. In fact, such breathtaking is their stranglehold on the game that Hamilton could wrap up the title by the time the Monza Grand Prix rolls in if Mercedes were to continue in the same vein as they have so far, which seems the most likely scenario. It would be his sixth title in seven years.
But he did defend the teams and racers…
Hamilton was, however quite clear that the teams and racers had no part to play in making the sport boring. According to him,” It's really important that people realize it's not the drivers' fault -– this is a constant cycle of F1 for years and years. And before I got to F1. It's because of the way Bernie (Ecclestone) had it set up and the decisions they made then.” He added, ”Until that structure changes, it will be the same in my opinion."
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff had a similar opinion. He said,” I hear you and from a fans' perspective I get it," he said, "But I think it's an unfair question because what would you do in our shoes? You would continue to push relentlessly for performance. It is what we do. But the fans see a race that is less enjoyable to watch."
Can we expect changes anytime soon?
Formula One’s sporting boss Ross Brawn has been working on a fresh template for the sport that is most likely to reflect on the 2021 regulation changes, but progress is slow. The key stakeholders, teams and even the racers have all been chipping in with their thoughts to make Formula One lively again, where the focus is less on the glitz and glamour and more on superior racing and breathtaking passing moves.