I have a confession to make. A livid one! My interest in Formula 1 has been gradually declining and I hardly watch the damn thing any more.
No, it’s got nothing to do with the horrifying accident at the Dunlop Curve that left the prodigiously gifted Jules Bianchi with severe head injuries. Injuries to which he succumbed a week ago.
It was a terrible tragedy and my thoughts are with his family. His sister asked everyone to find solace in the fact that ‘he died doing what he loved most.’ But, who are we kidding? She and the rest of us would rather he lived doing what he loved the most.
But no, the reason why Formula 1 doesn’t interest me any longer is frankly, it bores me. I’m bored of the rampant dominance of sports dynasties that has come to characterise the sport. The childlike fervour for fast cars and uninhibited prejudice for a certain driver or team, while cheering as a kid, is gone. And the highest class of single-seat auto racing lacks quality high-strung, cliff-hanging close racing encounters which I yearn for.
Let’s go back in time and try to understand what I’m trying to remark here, shall we? Ferrari won six titles between 1975 and 1983 and eight between 1999 and 2008. McLaren won six titles between 1984 and 1991. Williams won five titles between 1992 and 1997. More recently, Red Bull won four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013. Having won sixteen out of nineteen races in the 2014 season and three out of four in the current, it looks like its Mercedes’ turn to dominate the sport. You see the trend here, don’t you? Since 1975, there have been periods of utter dominance by different constructors. Other constructors did come close certain seasons but in the end, ‘coming close’ is not what these teams are after. All this does is it makes the sport poorer in terms of entertainment.
In a survey conducted last year, it was found that Formula 1 viewership in Latin America has seen an astounding fifty percent decline. Viewership in Italy and Spain decreased after each race, based on Ferrari and Alonso’s performance. Oddly, even with Mercedes’ domination and Nico Rosberg’s successful season, Germany’s ratings too reported a steady ten percent decline.
Formula 1 has never been one for fairy tales of the underdog, due to heavy regulations and costs. Add to that, hybrid quieter cars with fuel-conservative drivers makes the sport less enjoyable. But now’s the right time to look into these regulations and technology. Closer contests will certainly increase viewership when its ratings in key markets have been dramatically low for the past few years.
For now, let’s just hope Bernie and Jean are listening!