There’s a certain magnetism, though Fernando Alonso.
An F1 legend and seasoned veteran, albeit one with immaculately tousled hair, when he speaks it’s impossible not to listen. Throughout his career he has imparted enough wisdom to last a lifetime.
On this occasion, however, this author must contradict him. His frustration with the state of the sport led him to label it as “predictable” and “too boring”. Harsh words indeed, and there will be many race fans inclined to take the same view.
First of all, it would be a good idea to look back over the last few years. Alonso got back into his car with Alpine in 2021 after a two-year hiatus. When he returned, a new list of exciting regulations was to be introduced in a reorganization.
Fernando Alonso has criticized Formula 1 for being too ‘predictable’ and said it is ‘too boring’.
Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are often at the front and fight for victories
Of course, that was delayed by the pandemic. As well as the budget cap, the regulations should help make the sport more competitive, from the top to the bottom of the grid. This year we are beginning to see these changes.
But Alonso is obviously not impressed. Asked by No If the new cars were successful, he would reply, “So-so. Unfortunately, Formula 1 is still very predictable.”
He then pointed to the title fight, adding: “It’s all about Red Bull and Ferrari. Only Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez can win.
“I don’t know of any other sport that’s like this.
Red Bull star Verstappen (left) and Ferrari ace Leclerc (right) went wheel to wheel in Austria
“The GPs are more fun now and you can fight better with these cars.
“Nevertheless, I find it too boring, but it is also part of F1. There will always be teams that are faster than others.”
The basis of his argument is difficult to erase. The Drivers’ Championship goes to either Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc, while it’s only Red Bull and Ferrari who will be battling for the Constructors’ Cup this season, with Mercedes outnumbered.
But if you zoom out to see the big picture, this isn’t just a two-horse race. This is the best of the best, with running and tussling around every corner and straight to triumph. This is a long season where one mistake can lead to heartbreak.
Leclerc took the checkered flag first on that occasion, but the sport is not a two-horse race
Yes, the end result might be predictable — but the journey to get there really isn’t.
Let’s start this counterargument with the bubbling excitement of seeing cars driving wheel to wheel at outrageously high speeds. The new regulations were introduced to support this type of fight, and overtakes are significantly more common in this campaign so far.
The past few years have been marred by drivers getting stuck behind slower cars lap after lap, overtaking seemingly impossible as the dirty air hampered their own performance. This is still an issue, but races are closer and predictions are harder to make.
Granted, riders can push these tournaments too far. Look no further than Sebastian Vettel for evidence of this after he asked “What’s going on with these people?” after his collision with Pierre Gasly, which caused him to skid in Austria.
Sebastian Vettel was thrown off the track after dangerous driving by Pierre Gasly
His frustration was understandable, but the passion, skill and hot-headed will to prevail is still palpable in many drivers and can perhaps be traced back to their karting days. This constant advantage helps attract viewers.
Next we will move on to sprint races. They’re here to stay and certainly help add more vibrant drama to a race weekend. While not always as entertaining as fans would like, they give drivers another chance to hit the track with speed.
Three sprint races are planned for 2022, with six more next year. More World Championship points are also now offered, with eight available to the winner.
They are short bursts of action, about one-third the length of a normal Grand Prix, and are held on a Saturday to set the starting grid for the next day’s main show. Qualifying therefore takes place on a Friday to put the order for the sprint together.
Sprint races are also here to stay, with three scheduled for this year and another six for next year
Teams have less time to prepare as the number of training sessions is reduced and riders have headaches about how much risk they are taking in the sprint. You want to collect as many points as possible but avoid a devastating collision.
Fernando Alonso dragged himself from 11th to fifth last year, while Lewis Hamilton made a memorable bounce from last to also finish fifth in a sprint. Both examples show that sprint racing gives drivers a second chance at success, provided they can up the ante.
We will now briefly go into the new regulations.
When the FIA began rewriting the rulebook, they wanted to increase the number of overtakes and help create more high-speed wheel-to-wheel drama. They will believe they have achieved this – or start to do so.
There’s also an element of unpredictability. Red Bull and Ferrari are the clear frontrunners, but they’ve also suffered from reliability issues. Sainz’s engine recently blew up and Leclerc has also survived its fair share of scratches.
Technical issues have plagued drivers this year, with Carlos Sainz narrowly escaping a fire
Verstappen can now lead the overall standings, but also had to deal with mechanical problems. That has kept the Drivers’ Championship in balance, although there’s no denying Red Bull have the advantage in the reliability stakes.
Across the rest of the grid, it looks like Mercedes are bouncing back from their nightmare start, with Lewis Hamilton and the impressive George Russell working together to secure a number of impressive podiums. Do you still think F1 is boring Fernando?
McLaren and Alpine have an equal mid-table tally of 81 points, while Alfa Romeo and Haas have also caused quite a stir this season, with Mick Schumacher recently demolishing the field to claim his first points in F1.
After that, AlphaTauri, Aston Martin and Williams have a lot of work to do to improve.
So the new regulations appear to have shaken up the pecking order at both ends of the standings, and the way teams have attempted to overtake their cars to meet these requirements has generated much discussion even just a few months later.
Lewis Hamilton has bounced back from a difficult start this year, claiming multiple podiums
Surely that also refutes the notion that the sport is too predictable?
Finally, let’s take a look at last year’s stunning mayhem.
It was almost like it was written using hit Netflix series Drive to survive in the head. Every angle of this dramatic finale is captured in crystal clear HD and beamed into your living room.
Toto Wolff’s fear was visible in every pixel, while Verstappen’s wild celebrations and the delirium in the Red Bull garage provided the perfect contrast.
For some, it was a joyful observation. For others, they will never see it again.
That is the duality of the sport and F1 is full of it. In just one race we have deviated violently from Hamilton, who continued his long streak of dominance to usher in a new era; one that will see two new racers go head-to-head for years.
Verstappen’s controversial Drivers’ Championship triumph was captured from all angles last year
Yes, the circumstances surrounding Verstappen’s triumph were just wrong and should never have happened. There’s no denying that Hamilton was clearly robbed.
But in the longer term, with new race directors and a slew of groundbreaking releases thrown into the fray, the sport has never been more exciting to watch.
Alonso has every right to be frustrated, but there’s plenty to enjoy.
Not even Netflix’s sky-blue thinking writers could have come up with anything better.