Spirit of Formula One is diminishing

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner’s saga continues to sully the image of the team and Formula One as a whole. Photo: EPA

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner’s saga continues to sully the image of the team and Formula One as a whole. Photo: EPA

Published Mar 7, 2024


Comment by Morgan Bolton

Beloved Formula One, why are you like this?

Watching the sport these days is like watching a slow-motion crash – a bus, perhaps? – ponderously, painfully, disastrously sliding towards a precipice that has only a flimsy Armco barrier unable to halt the impending collision.

It could result only in the vehicle smashing through it, launching into the air, crashing hard into the earth (thanks, gravity) and then rolling six, no, seven times before igniting into a fireball of debris.

Methinks it is fair to state that regardless of which side of the divide you find yourself on, Red Bull Racing has brought the sport into disrepute. The Christian Horner saga continues to sully the image of the team and F1 as a whole.

The bitter in-fighting and allegations of impropriety have become bigger news stories than the action on the track – not that the action on the track is newsworthy.

Watching the season-opening Bahrain GP, I recall seeing race winner Max Verstappen at the start and when he crossed the finishing line.

It was clear from the performance that Red Bull are going to be near unstoppable this year, and the predictions of a fourth world drivers’ title for the Dutchman have seemingly been typeset, inked, printed and dried.

That, of course, is not Red Bulls’ fault, but rather the inability of the other big players within F1 – Ferrari, Mercedes and so on – to find a way to topple the dashing bull.

Next year will see limited development due to wholesale engine changes the year after, so 2025 – if Red Bull’s power struggle doesn’t see the team implode – will probably be the same.

That is too far for a sport desperate for drama or rivalry on the track.

Alpine, a works team, are fiddling their thumbs at the bottom of the grid. Imagine an entire works team that is worse than Williams, Haas, whatever Kick Sauber is and the rebranded RB-Honda RBPT team?

It’s clear that Alpine are in chaos, with no reason, rhyme or clear plan to work their way back to the success of early 2000, when they raced under the Renault banner.

They finished a terrible 17th and 18th in Bahrain, and only because Valtteri Bottas and Logan Sargeant had issues that stalled their race.

It sucks to be an F1 fan right now.

And that feeling has only intensified this week when it was revealed that the FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is under investigation for allegedly attempting to interfere with the result of a grand prix.

Sulayem is said to have tried to overturn a penalty incurred by Aston Martin’s Fernado Alonso at last year’s Saudi Arabian GP – this season’s edition takes place on Saturday – which would have reinstated the ‘Spanish Matador’ to the podium.

If it is true, the integrity of the sport is shot, with every decision in the past few years under renewed scrutiny.

Will it be a case of the track, team, machine and driver deciding the outcome, or the political interference from above deciding the result?

The spirit of F1 is diminishing, while the passion of its fans lessens with every race. And that is hard to watch.

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