It’s only natural, then, that during most seasons there will be a team that is more successful than all its peers. One car can easily end up winning four, five, six or even more races than any other car in the field, making the constructors’ championship a forgone conclusion.
But sometimes, those teams can continue to enjoy success year after year, hoarding wins and titles for multiple seasons in succession and leaving other teams scrambling to try and somehow catch up. Over the last 40 years, this level of domination by a single team – and even a single driver – is something Formula 1 has seen time and time again.
In the late eighties to early nineties, McLaren reigned supreme. McLaren’s 1988 season with the MP4-4 – arguably the most dominant car of all time – won all but one of that year’s races. Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna secured four successive drivers and constructors’ championship titles for McLaren between 1988 and 1991.
As the nineties came to an end, the era of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher well and truly began. The pair utterly dominated Formula 1 between 2000 and 2004, winning five consecutive titles together and becoming the most successful team and driver F1 had ever seen up to that point. After an off year in 2005, Schumacher fought for an eighth title in 2006, but was ultimately beaten by Fernando Alonso.
With the introduction of major technical regulation changes for 2009, Red Bull suddenly became a major force at the front of the grid. Sebastian Vettel claimed his first world title at the end of a dramatic season in 2010, but then he and Red Bull were simply unstoppable across 2011 and 2013. The combination took the titles for four straight years before the advent of the V6 turbo formula brought their reign to an end.
Instead, 2014 signalled the start of the Mercedes era. From that season up to 2021, Mercedes won eight consecutive constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ titles – with Lewis Hamilton taking six of them and Nico Rosberg the 2016 championship. Now, however, Red Bull appear to be back on top, with Max Verstappen winning the last two drivers’ titles and the RB19 looking unstoppable in the early rounds of the season.
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Does domination turn away viewers?
But every time one team rises to become the clear, undisputed number one, there are inevitable complaints about how domination risks damaging the sport. Intrigue in every sport thrives on the unknown and unexpected, and knowing who will win before the race weekend begins can rob a race of tension and excitement before it has even begun.
A raft of rule changes were brought into the sport in the midst of the Schumacher years in a bid to shake up grids and inject more unpredictability into F1 as a direct result of Ferrari’s dominance. At the height of Mercedes’ dominant period, team principal Toto Wolff admitted long-term dominance by any team “damages the spectacle” of the sport.
However, despite Hamilton and Mercedes sweeping up record numbers of race wins on their way to becoming the most successful team and driver combination in F1 history, viewing figures began increasing in spite of their constant winning. At the moment, F1 continues to enjoy some of the strongest viewership figures it has ever had – including an all-time high in the United States.
But how does domination affect your viewership and interest in Formula 1? Have you ever been turned off the sport by same the same faces on top of the podium week after week, have you actually been drawn further into the sport by a team performing at a clearly higher level than all of their rivals? Or does it make no difference to your interest in F1 either way?
Have your say by voting in this week’s poll and sharing your views in the comments below.
How has the dominance of a team in Formula 1 previously affected your viewership?
- My F1 viewership greatly increased due to one team dominating (2%)
- My F1 viewership slightly increased due to one team dominating (0%)
- My F1 viewership has been unaffected by one team dominating (54%)
- My F1 viewership slightly reduced due to one team dominating (28%)
- My F1 viewership greatly reduced due to one team dominating (16%)
Total Voters: 245
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117 comments on “Has one team dominating Formula 1 ever impacted how much you watch?”
26th March 2023, 10:06
With dominance of a team being pretty much the norm for the past three decades, with the very occasional closely-fought seasons thrown in to spice things up, I don’t think you’ll find many existing fans who are turned off by that.
Quite frankly, my viewing is more down to drivers than teams.
26th March 2023, 19:37
Dominations aren’t all created equal. Ayrton Senna and Prost had an incredibly dominant car, but that was exciting to watch the entire season.
1993 Williams had a dominant car, but they didn’t run the table. It was still exciting.
2014-2016 was awful domination, but again we had Hamilton and Rosberg fighting hard at the front
But then you have years like 2002, possibly my least favorite. Where the car is historically dominant and the team engage in team orders as if fighting closely with others. 2013 was awful as well, although it started ok. Then 2019 and 2020 were on par with 2002 with how awful they were.
juan fanger (@juan-fanger)
27th March 2023, 7:17
I stopped watching for a while in the Ferrari domination era, even though I like Ferrari as a team but watching Micky Shoe win races even when his teammate should have won, solely because of team orders, was disappointing.
But I did sort of like 2014-2016 because of the intrateam battle, particularly 2016 when both drivers were doing their nut.
27th March 2023, 13:28
Fully agree with this. The worst kind of domination is when the number one driver is favoured over the number two, even when they’re quicker overall anyway. This mainly been seen with the Schumacher/Ferrari years and to some extent with Verstappen last year. When you have this set up it can remove the hope of a good race as you know it will take unusual circumstances for the number two to challenge.
26th March 2023, 23:42
Wrong. My enthusiasm for Formula 1 waned with each passing year from 2014. So much that in recent years I only purchased a general admission ticket for the Melbourne Grand Prix. For the first 22 years of this event I always purchased a grandstand seat.
28th March 2023, 18:02
…and the early 2000s weren’t a problem? While the Mercedes domination of the 2010s certainly wasn’t great for the sport, at least Rosberg was allowed to fight Hamilton on fair terms. And after he left Ferrari upped their game to actually give Hamilton a run for his money on occasion.
It’s a problem with the framing of the question. One team being dominant is fine if both drivers are of similar ability and are allowed to fight. That just wasn’t the case through Schumacher’s domination of the early 2000s, Vettel’s early run through the 2010s (especially 2011 and 2013) and last season, with little sign that it will change.
And it’s taking me away from F1 completely. I want to watch competitive racing, and F1 just isn’t providing that at the moment
26th March 2023, 10:06
The only thing that has really affected my F1 viewership has been it disappearing from FTA TV. I’ve never got back into watching the races, live or on delay, after my viewership declined during that period.
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
26th March 2023, 19:53
This! This is the most important influence upon viewership of F1 races. While there are costs to producing a high quality broadcast with excellent commentary that need to be recouped, and I’d much rather pay to watch a race than to have the race and commentary interrupted by adverts, there are people who just don’t want to or can’t afford to pay to watch races.
26th March 2023, 10:28
F1 is a passion for me so I always watch, this since around 1990/91 and every dominance was different.
The most boring periode for me was the Schumi/Ferrari era.
They didn’t have to push at all because the great car/tyre combination they had.
Another problem with the Schumacher era was that he was a clear number one.
When Mercedes dominated you had inter team battles with Rosberg and Hamilton, making it much more fun.
After Rosberg left, Ferrari came back and in 2021 Verstappen vs Hamilton was amazing!
The new rules should be left stable now for a very very long periode so teams can get closer at the top once again.
26th March 2023, 19:00
I actually stopped watching F1 in the Schumi/Ferrari years, and only picket it back up when I happened to see a race again in 2005 with Alonso showing really fine, which got me back watching regularly @solidg.
For me added to the Car/tyre dominance, with added Schumacher effect, there also was the almost inevitle protectionism the FIA showed them in far too many occasions, where the likes of Williams, Mercedes, Red Bull never had that much (in many cases the exact oposite)
Steve Rogers (@beeflin)
28th March 2023, 9:26
Me too. Not only did Ferrari dominate, but Schumacher’s teammates were completely subdued. Only Irvine’s antics as rear-gunner got me interested again.
29th March 2023, 12:57
Similar for me too @bascb, though I’ll add that lack of good available coverage in the Netherlands and working on my PhD, then other events in my life provided further lack of incentive and time to watch during much of the 200x’s too.
26th March 2023, 10:32
I still watch every race, but I’ve found that I start to really dislike dominant drivers in dominant teams after a while. Schumacher, Vettel, Hamilton. I guess I just like to back the underdogs…
Napier Railton (@napierrailton)
26th March 2023, 10:48
That’s pretty much how I feel too.
Always rooting for the chasing driver to catch the leader.
I always watch the races, but I don’t always watch qualifying. I’ve been into F1 for quite some time, but I have found that I’m less interested in watching qualifying when there is one team faster than the others.
It was a long time ago now, but I don’t think I watched a single qualifying session in 2015
Phil Norman (@phil-f1-21)
26th March 2023, 11:25
Your comment @ace and the one below really sum up my attitude to F1. I think a dominant team does reduce my viewing slightly in that I might miss a race or two owing to some other commitment and not be bothered about it.
I think it’s more that dominant drivers are the issue though. I find myself disliking some of them at the time e.g. Schumacher and Vettel when they were dominant, although still respecting them as drivers. On the other hand I found the Hamilton/Rosberg rivalry quite exciting. I am not a fan of Verstappen and never have been.
I too rarely watch qualifying these days. I have not done so for a couple of years. I only watch the C4 highlights of most races as I don’t want to pay Sky. I don’t like their commentators either.
27th March 2023, 11:29
Then I guess in 1998 and 99 you rooted for M.Schumacher. Or had a dream about Coulthard being WDC??
26th March 2023, 10:54
It’s not made any difference to be honest. I’m more excited by seasons where it’s a close fight but they are very rare!
Usually, it’s down to the battle behind the leaders to keep things interesting and the TV coverage is getting better at just ignoring the dominant leaders – I don’t need to see a Red Bull or previously, a Mercedes cruising around, maintaining a massive lead.
26th March 2023, 10:56
I am of a certain age where I can state that my first GP was the first race win for a Lotus79 (still one of the most beautiful race cars) and whilst my viewing does differ by year if there is total dominance, the biggest loss of viewing was the removal from free-to-air transmission. I now very rarely watch the highlights shows and will not subscribe to Sky and so my viewing is restricted to 3min highlights on F1 app and via radio. I started out only being able to listen on radio ‘back in the day’ and I have ended up in same situation.
Mr Fabulous (@mrfabulous)
26th March 2023, 15:01
I think you and I must have been separated at birth!
27th March 2023, 11:41
Good comment. For me the Brabham Repco was the essence of a true Formula One car and dominant team. Before that it was the 1956 Vanwall, which came good in the next two seasons, that excited me.
Here in Melbourne (Australia, not Derbyshire) we no longer get the late Monday evening few minutes of free-to-air ‘highlights’ and, even though Channel Ten is supposedly live broadcasting the Albert Park Grand Prix this year, I will tune in about five minutes before the start of the Grand Prix. I cannot put up with repeat after repeat of a recorded interview with Danny Ric (and that Oscar fellow too, no doubt this year). There is no way that I will ever subscribe to the Sky thing.
Team dominance has never affected my enthusiasm, nor has driver superiority done that. The biggest F1 turn-offs for me are the night races and the prospect of an entire season of US based circuits – which appears to be happening.
I also have no concerns about team orders during a Grand Prix, after all the teams have a huge investment in both cars and drivers.
26th March 2023, 11:32
It’s really strange.. I started watching F1 in 1998 and never stopped from there on. But when Hakkinen was winning titles I cheered for Schumi, then Schumi dominated and I cheered for Hakkinen, Kimi, Juan Pablo, Ralf and finally Alonso.. I was happy when Vettel got his 1st WDC, then he started dominating and I hated him for that and cheered for Mercedes. And all of a sudden HAM started winning everything and I again hated him for that and wanted Rosberg to get him. 2016 was my favorite year along with 2012 and 2007 (Kimi fan..). Now VER is dominating and I would prefer to have HAM back… What is wrong with me..
27th March 2023, 17:40
I think we’re all the same. Basically, we look at the sport mainly to see the favorites lose.
F1 frog (@f1frog)
26th March 2023, 11:32
The only dominant seasons in the 1950s were Alfa Romeo in 1950 (with multiple drivers in the hunt but they weren’t really racing each other) and Ferrari in 1952 (Ascari on his own) but people watched Grand Prix racing for different reasons back then and each one only lasted one season with 1951 and 1953 were very exciting battles between Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, and Ferrari and Maserati respectively. Then Fangio won the next four but in the latter three he was up against Stirling Moss in similar machinery meaning it was still very close, and in 1954 the Ferrari was better than the Mercedes, so none of these were boring seasons. Stirling Moss was the dominant driver from 1958-61 but because he believed ‘it’s better to be defeated honourably in a British car than to be victorious in a foreign one,’ he didn’t win any of the championships and instead performed heroics in lesser cars, making this period one of the most entertaining in history. The 1961 season could be seen as domination by Ferrari with occasional interludes by Moss, but it was still a close battle between Hill and von Trips.
Arguably the 1962-65 period was the first real era of domination, by Jim Clark and Lotus as he would win almost every race which he finished being the best driver in the fastest car, but as the car was not very reliable this meant that 1962 and 1964 were actually close title battles and went to different drivers. The only seasons that Clark won were 1963 and 1965, but for me these were the two most impressive seasons by a single driver in Formula 1 history, with the Lotus 25 a dominant car in 1963 but Clark still massively exaggerating that with some extraordinary performances such as the win by four minutes in Spa and, allegedly, the first four races of the season were all done on the same set of tyres. And the car wasn’t dominant in 1965, it was probably only slightly better than the BRM, but Clark made it look dominant by winning six races, while also winning the Indy 500, Tasman series, British F2 and French F2. As Grand Prix racing was not so much about close competition in this period, I think the fact that Clark and Lotus were so impressive prevented this dominant era from being boring.
Then Grand Prix racing was wide open from 1966 all the way to around 1983. Jackie Stewart may have dominated the championship in 1969 and 1971 but this was a mixture of, again, driver contribution and other teams dropping the ball, a little like 2022, so these were still entertaining seasons. 1978 was fairly dominant from Lotus and Mario Andretti with the first real ground effect car, but again, only for one season, and there were plenty of races where they were beaten on pure pace. So certainly no dull eras of domination here.
In 1984, McLaren won the constructors’ title by a considerable amount, but it was a very closely-fought season between Prost and Lauda, and they both often qualified less well and had to make their way to the front, with the Brabham just as fast as the McLaren but unreliable, so this was certainly not a dull season. Then Williams had a dominant car in 1987 but it was a battle between Piquet and Mansell, and Senna and Prost also won races on merit. 1988 was the first properly dominant car since 1963 for McLaren, but there was an entertaining Senna vs Prost rivalry that carried over into 1989 when the car was still dominant but by a lesser margin, and this kept this era from being dull, although it is still better when the competing drivers are in different teams, as we got in 1990 with Prost’s move to Ferrari which also emphasised just how much of a difference the two drivers were making.
1991 was McLaren vs Williams, but then 1992 and 1993 were two seasons of Williams dominance using active suspension. I would suggest this was the lowest period since 1952, not being a fan of traction control and because there was a clear first and second driver in the team, but at least the great performances from Senna in the slower McLaren made for a few very entertaining races. 1994 and 1995 were closely fought between Benetton and Williams, before Williams returned to dominance in 1996 but Villeneuve managed to take the title to the last round and Schumacher also won races in the inferior Ferrari (a season similar to Moss in 1961 in this regard), while 1997 was a great battle between Villeneuve and Schumacher, one of the best seasons in modern times.
1998 looked initially to be a McLaren walkover but ended up being a close battle between McLaren and Ferrari, as was 1999 (the season nobody wanted to win) and 2000. Then the era of Ferrari dominance began, and 2001, 2002 and 2004 were perhaps the dullest seasons in Formula 1 history (1994 was the overall worst but it wasn’t boring), because it was one team dominating but with one driver considerably better than the other, as well as everyone else on the grid, while the racing also wasn’t very entertaining due to refuelling, and motor racing was far more about the actual overtaking and racing than it had been in 1950 and 1952 (the only other contenders). 2002 was possibly the worst of all because Ferrari were so dominant that they could just pick and choose the winner of each race in the second half of the season, while 2004 had Schumacher winning 12 of the first 13 races. I think this was the lowest era in F1 history.
The next period of Formula 1 was far more entertaining. Indeed, every season between 2005 and 2013 had the top two in the championship being from different teams, and in five of those seasons there was a final race title decider between drivers of different teams. The only dominant seasons in this period were 2011 and 2013 by Vettel and Red Bull, but there was plenty of great races in 2011, McLaren often having the legs of Red Bull in races, and the first half of 2013, and the seasons were split by two of the best seasons ever in 2010 and 2012. Only during Vettel’s nine consecutive wins at the end of 2013 was this domination genuinely boring and the option tyres were just too bad during the 2013 season.
The next era was made up of domination by Mercedes, but 2014-16 included the intense rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg, with two interesting title battles and the former season included plenty of great races. 2015 was a very bad season admittedly, and I would also include this with the worst F1 seasons ever. But in 2017 and 2018 there was a close battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, and 2019 started off with Mercedes domination but was more interesting in the second half of the season. 2020 should have been terrible but because of all the interesting tracks and the fact that it came after such a long period of nothing at all made it actually a very enjoyable season to watch. This was one of the less good eras of Formula 1 because although there were lots of good things about them, the fact that Mercedes were the best team for seven consecutive seasons did make it a little boring, this being the longest ever period of one-team domination.
2021 was one of the best seasons of all time, along with 1958 and 1976, with Hamilton and Verstappen so evenly-matched and in evenly-matched cars and almost every race being exciting. And in 2022, Verstappen broke the record for most wins in a season but I would still class this as an average season rather than a terrible one because Ferrari were often faster in qualifying and Mercedes good in the races, and having three teams in the hunt for race wins made it interesting, even if they always seemed to ultimately go to the same driver.
But I fear that the next few years could be the worst in history if Red Bull maintain the advantage they have now. 2023 has so far suggested that, like during the Schumacher era, Red Bull will be streets ahead of anyone else and Verstappen clearly better than his teammate, Perez, meaning there could be no interest in either championship. The fact that DRS is so ridiculously powerful also means that Verstappen isn’t even able to showcase his ability as by far the best on the grid because when something goes wrong for him, like in Jeddah, it is no longer impressive to watch him fight his way back to the front because every overtake is an easy pass. It would be far more interesting if that fightback had required real skill with every overtake rather than just opening the rear wing. So it looks like 2023 could be an entire season of Verstappen dominating, Perez easily coming second, and any setback in qualifying or early in the race being recovered with no trouble at all. But at least there looks to be a close battle for third in the championship between three teams.
The budget cap incident also makes this domination by Red Bull somewhat annoying. Obviously, that minor breach is not the reason why they are so dominant in 2023, because it couldn’t have that much of an effect. But I think it means they cheated to win the 2021 title and if the FIA are not going to take that one away from them, the only fair solution would be for them to have got a draconian penalty that prevented them from winning in 2023 to make up for them unfairly taking 2021. So while Red Bull do deserve to be this far ahead in the sense that they have created the best car by far, they also deserve one less championship than they do have and this will continue to be the case all the time that they are not being affected by any penalty. The cheating also makes the team somewhat unlikeable meaning it is more annoying that they are dominant. But it may be that Liberty Media introduce new rules just to take away their advantage for the sake of the show, which would also be quite unfair and not really what Formula 1 should be about.
I think the three most exciting drivers in Grand Prix history are Tazio Nuvolari, Stirling Moss and Gilles Villeneuve, the common link between the three being that they were all widely-considered the best and fastest of their era (although I think Alan Jones was better than Villeneuve), but drove in less competitive cars and performed heroics in them anyway. Unfortunately, most eras of dominance are less interesting because the best driver on the grid (Schumacher, Hamilton, Verstappen) was also in the best car, but the performances of Alonso in recent years, and Hamilton in 2022-23 suggests that it is far more difficult to stand out in a lesser car in current Formula 1 than it was in the past, and so the most entertaining racing comes when there are multiple great drivers in similar competitive cars.
It is also interesting that the more regulated Formula 1 seems to get, the more long periods of dominance by single teams you seem to get. This seems counter-intuitive as cars look like they are more similar now, but I think it is also a consequence of the sport being more professional, making it more difficult for a team to make considerable gains.
Sonny Crockett (@sonnycrockett)
26th March 2023, 11:39
Does your post come in audiobook form?!
26th March 2023, 13:00
How smart am I?
I tried the large print version, amazingly it was worse. 😵💫
26th March 2023, 13:18
Great summary of F1 history. One thing that stopped F1 being too predictable in the past was car reliability. No one could guarantee to finish every race without mechanical issues and often cars were difficult to get the most out of. To a certain extent some teams would focus development on making fast cars reliable, reliable cars fast or bring in huge changes to the cars mid season.
Cars these days are so reliable and so optimised and everything is quite standardised without other variables like engine type, tyre manufacturer, wildly different aerodynamics, car dimensions, car weights which affect performance from track to track.
Another factor is that comparatively easy overtaking sorts the field out almost regardless of the events of the race weekend. In the last few years we have had races where Hamilton or Verstappen have started near the back, yet been favourites to win. So the anticipation of “Anything can happen in F1 and it usually does (Murray Walker)” is not really there at the moment.
27th March 2023, 11:53
Holy cow, was that a comment, or a whole new Racefans article posted in the wrong place?
29th March 2023, 12:59
Let’s promote this into at least a post of the day, but really, it might be a ‘responder’ article @f1frog, thanks for that.
26th March 2023, 11:33
What bothers me the most, as a non-British, is this persuit of making dominance by a team/driver look bad done by British media. For instance Sky F1: It’s been a constant stream of them claiming how boring it has become, how bad it is for fans and raising questions if/when rules need to be changed to turn the tables.
Yet NONE of this was the case during Mercedes’ dominance. I watched back several streams of F1-races during the 2014-2020 era with Sky commentary and not a single time, even after Mercedes destroyed everyone, was the question asked whether it was bad.
With Sky Sports being the go-to commentary for everyone who watches with proper English commentary (and not Buxton and co), they really should do a better job being less subjective for drivers from their country. Because at this rate I’m not bothered by the dominance of a team, but the complaining by Brits and their media about the dominance of a team/driver that isn’t theirs.
26th March 2023, 11:58
Yeah – it’s just the way it is with the British media. Its like the coverage of the Olympics – they’ll cut to a random sport to show a British person in 50th place take their turn and then they’ll cut away to something else because obviously no-one cares about someone who isn’t British competing! Often they just cut to the studio because they think that’s more interesting than a watching a non-Brit.
It’s a shame that Sky’s commentary gets used outside of the UK because of the obvious bias but they pay Liberty enough that they’ll never get questioned.
26th March 2023, 13:43
@petebaldwin It does appear that FOM are trying to push their own commentary a bit more. A huge advantage for them is that they’ve managed to lure Alex Jacques back, after a couple of poor seasons (as much as I quite like Buxton as a presenter, I don’t like his commentary style to be honest. And while they had Ben Edwards last year, it was only for about half the races). And now there seems to be a closer partnership between C4 and FOM, with C4 getting the FOM commentary (with Jacques) and FOM able to utilise some of the C4 talent such as DC.
Additionally, the FOM feed is now being used on the YouTube highlights for both Qualifying and the Race, which have used Sky since they were first properly implemented in 2017, which suggests they’re trying to get their feed more out there. I wonder if this will eventually lead to more people abroad using the FOM commentary instead of Sky’s.
26th March 2023, 16:31
Yeah I’ve been watching them for a couple of years now, we used to go to Sky commentary, mostly because I like Brundle, but this year we’ve been using theirs and it’s honestly no worse. My main complaint would be that they have a habit of digressing, which seems to stem from BBC radio commentary (Crofty has the same habit).
I call Buxton ‘The Excitable Man’ thanks to his pre-race piece to camera. It’s not a compliment.
26th March 2023, 18:16
@george The only reason I still use Sky’s commentary when watching live and not the BBC radio comms (I don’t have the option of the FOM commentary live, being in the UK) is because of Brundle and Kravitz. I just don’t fit with Crofty’s commentary, and if it wasn’t for what those two bring to the race I would have switched over the radio long ago. FOM’s commentary even has their own Brundle if I’m not mistaken! (I’m assuming Alex Brundle does at least some F1 co-commentary as well, he’s very good on the F2 broadcasts)
And with regards to Buxton, I have fallen out of touch with his content a bit over the last couple of years. I used to really enjoy Paddock Pass, Tech Talk (when Buxton fronted it with Mark Hughes) and the similar content, but since that’s been replaced by the Weekend Warm-Up and Weekend Debrief I haven’t quite been able to gel with it as much. And I do sometimes feel he’s been transformed more into a hype-man and less of a journalist a bit over the last few seasons as well.
26th March 2023, 13:40
I remember a lot of talk, across all media including Sky, about how “boring” Mercedes’ dominance was, even with a serious battle between Hamilton and Rosberg.
27th March 2023, 13:01
It did not even come close to what we see nowadays. I agree with Steve. If F1 ever wants to become a truly professional global sport they need to cut their ties to the UK. Kicking out Sky would be a good start.
28th March 2023, 8:29
Many things have changed.
I don’t doubt that there is British bias in the British F1 coverage*, but I’m pretty sure there would be a similar level of reaction in today’s climate of the newly-dominant team had a British driver. The reaction to Mercedes’ dominance, relative to general media reactions at the time, was very similar.
* Do remember that the British Sky F1 coverage is British. Even if this gets used elsewhere in the world, it’s still British coverage produced for British audiences. It’s not their responsibility to change it to suit an international audience it was never intended for. I’m not the biggest fan of Sky, but I don’t think they can be held responsible for other countries refusing to produce their own content and using Sky’s British coverage instead.
29th March 2023, 13:14
It’s a bit odd, since Horner remains one of the most heard on Sky team principles, and his gaslighting undoes a lot of any other anti-Red Bull stuff they might, or not, have on there in my opinion (and also, because he so rarely says anything other than they points you know he’ll make, still don’t get why he’s ever asked), so on the whole there is some sort of balance.
Especially since over the last two decades, the British press have a lot of anti-Hamilton stuff most of the time, but we don’t read much of that on the international feed so I always thought that’s why Sky felt they needed to compensate with praise. Now, in the Alonso year, I would agree that UK newcomer vs. Spanish 2xWDC was unhinged though to be honest, it was also pretty wild a driver/team development to follow.
But, having lived in Germany, following F1 on RTL Germany, really, no, Sky nor BBC have egregious bias towards ‘home’ drivers and teams (which are all but Ferrari, Haas, and in its time Toyota in some sense!) in comparison. And any Dutch person (hi) who’s watched F1 on Ziggo over the last few years also has little base to say that British F1 coverage is more biased than the norm either (how lacking in any criticism towards ‘onze Max’ can one be? Yes says Ziggo, but we can show more of it). It’s apparently partly a feature of sports media in general that separating fandom and journalism is hard.
Hm, or perhaps it’s not a coin
29th March 2023, 13:15
Eh, that last half a sentence was supposed to be completely deleted, lol.
29th March 2023, 18:37
You’re not wrong there, he’s been attacked in the press for most of his career over here.
I think this is definitely correct. I’ve not seen non-biased sports reporting from any nation when they had a national stake. So, though there is British bias in the British F1 media, that’s only to be expected.
And, again, the British Sky F1 coverage is primarily produced for British audiences. The fact that it gets bought in where other countries don’t produce their own doesn’t and won’t change that. If people want coverage without British bias, they need to get someone to produce coverage without rather than lambast Sky.
Sonny Crockett (@sonnycrockett)
26th March 2023, 11:35
I still watch but with very little excitement.
Compare that to MotoGP, where any one of 10 or more riders could win, and which I think about all day leading up to the actual race!
26th March 2023, 11:42
Is that why many attendances and viewing figures are in decline in MotoGP? You can have too many winners. Humans are narrative based creatures and too many winners isn’t really what people want. They may say they want that, but it’s not what they want.
26th March 2023, 12:35
Yeah it’s like going from one extreme to the other. I don’t want different winners every race – if 10 or more drivers win a race during a season, it dilutes the importance of a race win…
At the same time though, if a driver in the 2nd fastest car puts in the drive of his life but he’s not in with a chance of winning the race, it dilutes the achievement of the winner…
Mercedes did an incredible job previously and Red Bull have done the same now. Unfortunately their level of dominance means Lewis and Max have won championships that are a bit meaningless… People will look at the numbers and say “wow” but the reality of it is that winning a drivers championship in a car as dominant as they’ve both had is just a case of finishing where they should do – it’s about as impressive as Albon finishing 12th…
26th March 2023, 13:16
You say it’s meaningless but again, what people say isn’t actually reflective of how they behave. By almost all metrics one can fathom, Max and Lewis have the most meaningful motorsport titles on the planet, and it’s not even close. It quite clearly reflective in the numbers of people who interact with F1. Their titles clearly mean something.
It’s interesting you bring up the idea of someone finishing 2nd dilutes the achievement of the winner. I don’t agree but it does show the narrative potential of dominance. it allows other stories to come into play that otherwise wouldn’t be considered. Without the vast differences in cars then someone getting a top 10, or points finish, in a bag of spanners becomes meaningless. But take Bianchi in the Manor at Monaco. Those stories can only exist when there’s dominance potential within the technical structure. A Manor points finish wouldn’t mean anything if a small number of teams weren’t dominant.
26th March 2023, 13:18
@sonnycrockett yeah but for me MotoGP is now missing the great rivalries. I just loved it when Rossi/Marquez/Lorenzo were going at it. Rossi and Marquez are spectacular to watch as they are true masters of the sport.
The riders have been a bit inconsistent lately where even riders with the top machinery seem to be struggling to do well and can’t even hang with the front pack.
Many riders seem to be struggling for form lately including Morbidelli, Miller, Mir, Rins, Zarco, Vinales, Binder.
The only consistent ones have been Bagnaia and Quartararo. The only surprise has been Aleix Espargaro with Aprilia.
Seeing Marquez struggle is very tough as we all know he’d win the race.
26th March 2023, 17:46
@petebaldwin and @freelittlebirds and Alan Dove I agree about having too many winners. You could have a season where pretty much every race is won by a different driver. I can’t speak too much about MotoGP because I don’t follow it too closely, but Formula E has had a similar problem as well. Yes it adds an element of unpredictability, but it also makes it difficult to follow and for storylines to develop. For example, the 2020-21 FE season (eventually won by De Vries) saw no driver win more than 2 of the 15 races, and they went into the final double-header in Berlin with 18 drivers still in contention for the championship. EIGHTEEN. And out of 15 races, De Vries only scored 4 podiums and didn’t even reach 100 points (despite using broadly the same points system as F1). Not saying that De Vries didn’t deserve it, just that the whole season was so convoluted that it was very, very difficult to understand what was going on, and it didn’t allow for any proper rivalries to develop. In comparison, one of the reasons 2021 was such a good F1 season was because of just how far above the rest of the pack Lewis and Max were, and the closest in recent memory we got to having so many winners was of course 2012, but by the end of the season even that had condensed down into just Alonso vs Vettel.
26th March 2023, 11:47
You can’t look at dominance in isolation with regard to viewing habits. There’s interaction between periods of dominance and periods of relatively close competition. There’s an interplay that needs to be accessed. Someone who might fade over a dominant season may be way more liekly to interact with an interesting (subjectively speaking) seasons. What I mean by that is you don’t get special seasons (2021 etc…) if every season is special. This is why any persuit to ‘even’ the competition, could cause decreasing viewership over a period of time.
Humans need narrative. F1 provides narrative, way more than other forms of competition precisely because of the ‘dominance potential’ mechanism within its structure.
28th March 2023, 8:34
Yeah, humans love using weighted random number generators to produce narrative.
Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
26th March 2023, 12:16
Unaffected because I love the sport so much, never a miss a race. I don’t like domination, but I respect it.
This is competition, not entertainment.
27th March 2023, 13:03
Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair)
26th March 2023, 12:18
The last 10 years of F1 has seriously tested my patience. We were spoilt during the highly competitive V8 era where multiple teams and drivers fought for championships, and since Vettel went on the 9 wins in a row streak, F1 has been sorely lacking in competition at the top. I went through Mercedes domination hoping that one day we would get a season like 2008, 2010 or 2012, and although the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry was fairly entertaining, it was merely a plaster on what F1 was becoming.
Then Liberty Media took over and turned F1 into a TV show, and although 2021 has probably been the only properly good season in the last 10 years, I don’t think the events of Abu Dhabi happen under a governing body that puts sport before entertainment, which I’d say was the case until the Americans took over.
I didn’t watch much of the 2022 season as I was initially excited by the new regulations hoping they would launch us into a highly competitive era with good racing, and then 2022 looked like it was going to be the most boring season since 2015, so I kinda checked out at that point. Having seen the prospect of 2023 being yet another dreary season, I won’t be watching the races and instead keep up to date on Twitter. I will instead be watching other series more closely such as IndyCar.
I don’t blame Red Bull or Mercedes for making the sport boring, they are there to win, not to entertain. I guess growing up in the V8 era gave me a false impression of F1 and it turns out that it usually isn’t this close.
28th March 2023, 12:37
There’s different kinds of dominance. I’m not a fan of the utter dominance of the early Mercedes years and the Ferrari ears of shumi (especially when there’s no rivalry within the dominant team). But I don’t mind a slightly dominant car as long as there’s some rivalry, either within the team or an up an coming driver from a second tier team biting the leader.
I would hate any real Balance Of Power (le mans-style) to come into play in F1. The regulation changes (like the anti porpoising stuff last year to narrow the gap) are annoying enough. This is a competition of constructors as much as a competition of drivers. I want to be in awe of Newey’s car designs and Merc’s engines at least as much as being impressed by Alonso, Lewis and Max and their skills.
Besides, there’s plenty of racing going on even if P1 is accounted for. The most interesting battle in Bahrain was for P10. That’s great. Even more great: It was broadcast by FOM. Who cares if the throne is occupied by a driver in a dominant car as long as the race is interesting, the drivers in the dominant cars drives as well as their cars.
What really bugs me – and can turn me from attending races or watching on FOM – is when drivers in dominant cars fail to dominate, though. I’ll keep a close eye on Perez and Sainz this year. And Alonso/Stroll need to capitalize on what is still the best engine in a Newey-cloned chassis, or I’ll be hugely disappointed. Alpine has the car to pick the three remaining points after the four better teams every week. That’l be interesting to see. So, even with a dominant car in P1/P2 we have an interesting battle between Marc, Aston and Ferrari and the race for P9/P10 between the rest. Wonderfull.
I’ll probably always attend races. Dominance or not. Doeasn’t matter in itself. I might skip watching at home if the broadcast fail to show the actual racing in the midfield due to a combination of British drivers in dominant cars taking all focus by biased crews; but that’s a much different discussion…
26th March 2023, 12:26
Who would have guessed that nobody really wants a dominant team or driver….? At most it is tolerated (with respect, generally).
Nobody should be surprised that a racing series that is micromanaged to this level can be so dull and boring at times.
All the interesting points and unpredictability is regularly engineered right out.
2021 was the peak of not knowing what would happen next – which is why it has the reputation it has and why so many people still refer to it. No dominance, almost complete lack of predictability and a great on-track product – and a fair helping of controversy to make it even spicier.
While it doesn’t (or can’t) be like that all the time, F1 would certainly do well to raise the bar to get rid of seasons that can turn dominant.
Provided in-season rule changes affect everyone, I see no reason why they shouldn’t be used to ensure a better on-track product.
We all watch F1 to be entertained, after all.
27th March 2023, 13:16
I agree dominance is non desirable but respected. However, 2021 was the worst season in F1 I have ever watched. Not because of the absence of a dominant car (which is actually great) or any of the racing and battles, but because of the fair helping of controversy. Probably FIA’s lowest season ever, completely incompetent. Particularly in a year where that help was certainly not needed (since there was no dominance). Raising the bar by getting rid of seasons that can turn dominant by applying in-season rule changes is not something I support. You state it affects everyone, but for instance in 2021 (in-season tyres change) it particularly benefitted the rear end of the Mercedes, without which they would never have been in contention for any title in 2021. A similar attempt was made by Mercedes in 2022 with the in-season change around porpoising, although unfortunately for Mercedes it did not have impact on the other cars. So artificial trickery imho is equal to cheating. Once a season is underway, you need to play it. Entertainment must always be secondary to anything in sports. People can go to the movies if they want scripted hollywood content.
27th March 2023, 15:16
But almost certainly the most interesting, right?
Competitors ‘cheat’ – sporting administrators just apply their own interpretations of the rules however they see fit.
Many rules can be and are changed in-season. Safety changes, for example, usually have direct sporting consequences. Tyres often change in-season – it’s up to the teams to get the best from them.
Every rule in F1 is artificial. Nothing about it happens naturally or without provocation from a set of often arbitrary and conflicting rules.
Even if F1 were the purest of pure sporting contests conceivable with absolutely no regard whatsoever for its presentation, appearance or reception, you’d still be watching for its entertainment value to you as a viewer. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be watching it at all. Entertainment is its value to viewers – as the only other value it has it to participants as an activity, and to financial stakeholders to make money.
28th March 2023, 8:58
For most of the season, that can just about be stretched to cover what we saw. The stewards have a great deal of leeway and discretion. There were disturbing patterns, extreme inconsistencies, and interpretations significantly different to those we’ve seen in the past, but they were all within the bounds of the rulebook.
Until the final laps of AD, that is. To see the sporting regulator of the sport I loved literally ignore the rulebook completely to artificially create a final racing lap, especially in a situation where that effectively guaranteed a change in the outcome of the race from that which we would have seen if the rules were followed, was an absolute kick in the teeth for any fan who believed F1 was a sport.
The entire season was a mess. It was an exciting season to watch, but the worst I’ve ever seen for consistency and fairness even before AD. I would rather only see periods of dominance again than watch another season as farcical as 2021.
26th March 2023, 12:26
I would say it’s not so much one team dominating so much as one person dominating, or inbalanced teammates in a dominant car.
I don’t mind one dominant season but generally tune out some time during season two or three. There’s a lot of sport to be watching. F1 is some of the best viewing around when it’s good, but when it’s bad or predictable, it’s really bad and predictable.
Was a bit young during the Schumacher years, saw quite a lot of the fun period between 05 to 10. Tuned out for the last two Vettel years, I understand one was good and the other a bit lame.
Watched the Hamilton vs Rosberg years, one team dominated but there was plenty of intrigue. Did not stick around to watch Hamilton paste Bottas and Ferrari Vettel into a fine dust.
Tuned back in during the pandemic year, partly because there was a lot less to do, Ham dominated but it was a fun year with different tracks and some great races, also one can make time for 17 races, 23 is really too many. Obviously enjoyed the Ham vs Verstappen nirvana year. Watched a lot of last year for the new cars, did look like it was going to be fun for a bit then Redbull cracked on and Ferrari self imolated so the intrigue went out of it and by the end I was getting kind of bored, pre-season and the first race indicaite it was going to be more of the same so, doubt I’ll watch much.
Haven’t actually watched a second of live racing this year, suspect I won’t watch the highlights if things don’t pick up either, mostly due to having other plans which is really the crux of it. During years when it seems like there will actually be a title race I don’t make plans when a race is going to be on.
Lots of people might say, the title race isn’t all that happens in F1 but, for me it is the thing that binds the whole sport together, if there isn’t a title race I just cannot get that excited about like, a competative midfield or whatever.
26th March 2023, 20:55
Races can never be too many, this week I was like: wow, it’s already friday, if only there was a race, but nah, have to wait till next week.
26th March 2023, 20:56
But in any case not a great season, I find it more boring when there’s such dominance level.
26th March 2023, 12:38
Unaffected for me. I’ve never minded about a single team or driver regularly winning, or at least not enough for a turn-off.
Just a part of F1 & inevitable for a non-spec series.
John Beak (@johnbeak)
26th March 2023, 12:43
I’ve started watching F1 when they started airing races on TV in my country in 1998. I became hooked and watched every race (with the exception when I physically couldn’t access a TV – cursed summer camps making me miss Spa).
This was before widespread home internet, therefore my information sources were limited to magazines and books. That gave me no to limited insight when it comes to midfield, back of the field and junior series. Winners get most coverage.
When Schumacher and Ferrari started dominated in the early 2000s, it quickly became boring. Qualifying format meant that they often didn’t start on pole, but surely they would make their way through in the race. Especially during 2002-2004, I would regularly walk away from the TV the moment Schumacher took lead.
This also impacted the amount of other F1 media I consumed, to the extent that I was surprised to see new teams appear and change names in the first races of 2005 and 2006.
My viewership commitment hasn’t fully recovered until 2009. By then internet media (notably a blog named F1Fanatic – thank you Keith & co.) were readily available.
Following seasons saw new teams win, which felt fresh enough. Red Bull “domination” featured some of the most exciting seasons in 2010 and 2012 and even the two years where Vettel won the title comfortably still regularly featured 4 teams within at least and outside shot for race wins. Therefore I wouldn’t call that era a domination.
Then came the Mercedes era. Having had years of access to content providing more insight into the midfield battle, I still had enough incentive to follow the races and behind the scenes development closely although wins were pretty much only contested by a single team large part of the time.
My younger self couldn’t do that in the Ferrari era. Furthermore, now I was able to more accurately assess talents of the people in midfield and end of the grid teams. For example, I failed to identify Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso’s seasons at Minardi as outstanding at the time, but by the mid-2010s it was easy for me to understand which up-and-coming talents are performing well despite finishing outside the top ten most of the time due to inferior machinery.
F1 has enough stories going on to stay exciting regardless of who’s winning, but only if you have enough insight into what’s going on beyond the sharp end of the field.
There has, however, been something else making me consider my commitment recently. That being the number of races expanding beyond reasonable.
Having many F1 weekends wouldn’t have been an issue when I was a kid. Now that I have to sustain myself, it’s hard to justify having every other weekend occupied by races, plus keeping up with behind-the-scenes stuff in the meanwhile, when I could be using that small amount of free time for working on personal projects or learning new skills for personal growth.
16-17 races was optimum in my opinion. But that’s another topic entirely.
26th March 2023, 13:05
A team dominating the sport may not necessarily affect whether I watch the races but it will affect whether I skip through the races faster since I can’t watch most of them live. It mostly affects my enjoyment. Rivalries are of course the best thing for the sport and drama is the second best thing.
Ideally, we’d have a rivalry like Hamilton vs Rosberg or Hamilton vs Vettel or Hamilton vs Verstappen every season. Of course, it’d be nice to have other drivers listed there but the team has to allow their drivers to race and Ferrari and Red Bull don’t do that so they are generally the proverbial party-p00pers.
A second best would be some drama like Multi-21 between Webber and Vettel.
People seem to be getting along way too well in F1 ;-)
26th March 2023, 13:16
I’m probably less excited for the rest of 2023 than I ever have been for a season since the Schumacher era. I’m not a fan of any particular driver or team, so who is dominating doesn’t make a difference… but I do very much dislike it as a spectacle, and I think it’s far worse when the dominant team has a clear number one.
That said, I don’t think the domination itself is the only thing responsible for my current rut, as I’ve always been able to appreciate the midfield/battle for the podium almost as much as the race for the lead.
My appreciation and love for F1 has waxed and waned over the 25 years I’ve been closely following it. I haven’t yet missed a race in those 25 years, but I’ve recently started tuning into races half an hour after the start (on a recording) and forwarding through bits to eventually catch up with the live session by the time the chequered flag falls. Same with qualifying, and I’ve stopped bothering with practice. That’s been gradually becoming more common for the last few years, and during that time we’ve had a variety of ‘dominance’ and ‘non dominance’ spells, which haven’t made any difference to the steepness of the downward slope.
So… my viewing has reduced, but I don’t know why. Maybe the accumulated impact of one-team dominance has played a role, on top of the other stuff I’ve disliked recently. Or maybe I’m just falling out of love with F1.
26th March 2023, 15:18
It’s hard for anything to be compelling for that long, and since it’s a time period where not a whole lot has actually meaningfully changed about F1 (contrast to say, 1970-1995) then it’s probably normal that it gradually takes more to be convinced to invest time.
Speaking for myself, the awful look of the 2009 cars definitely took a huge bite out of my interest in F1 generally. Yes it’s superficial, but those goofy narrow rear wings and huge front wings never looked right to me. It’s been better since 2017, but unfortunately by then the cars had become super long and close to weighing a tonne. You can put all the fancy hybrid tech in them, but it’s not going to change physics. A 5,5 meter long car weighing over 900 kilograms is never going to be as nimble and on edge as smaller and lighter cars.
26th March 2023, 13:18
I’ve switched off this season due to Liberty’s ongoing quest for races in countries with human rights issues, a desperation for Saudi and other oil money, the heavy and lethargic cars now more dependent on aero than ever before, and the persistent terrible stewarding and rule changing/enforcement.
We’re only a few races in and I already feel vindicated, especially after the Alonso mess.
Fortunately Formula E has taken a real step forward this season. I hope Racefans ups its content compared to F1 – stories are slow to appear and few in number for a site dedicated to motorsport news and results.
28th March 2023, 13:01
I’m going to have to give FE another shot, I think. I tried previously and found, while the races were relatively exciting, that was often more down to the drivers crashing than the quality of racing (not to mention the gimmicks). However, that was a few years ago, they deserve another chance.
I have watched a couple of Extreme E events, and they were compelling. I just haven’t become as invested as I am in F1 (let alone as much as I was pre-2021), so I only caught them when I happened to notice they were on…
26th March 2023, 13:54
I got bored during the Schumacher years and it definitely affected my interest in F1. Early years of Mercedes domination at least had two drivers in one team competing hard but in Schumacher’s day his teammate wasn’t allowed to really compete against him. The later Mercedes years had other teams catching up and that changed the dynamics.
The new era will get boring if there is such a dominance from Red Bull, but there is a glimmer of hope from the last race that Verstappen’s teammate will not lie down and be trampled.
But which ever team is dominant, it can seriously detract from the interest and entertainment from F1 unless there is some competitive element still left behind.
28th March 2023, 13:12
I think that’s very fair.
Perez is not good enough (IMHO) to even come close to Verstappen in an even fight, the team clearly (and rightly) favours Max, and Max isn’t prepared to do anything to help his team mate. Perez may not “take it lying down”, but he is unlikely to provide any serious competition for Max over the course of a season. This makes other teams the only possibility for any competition for the top of the WDC, and it’s looking highly unlikely any of them will be able to make enough of a stride forward to make any sort of challenge.
As much as people complain about Mercedes’ dominant period, at least we didn’t have this situation. Rosberg was good enough to compete and, by the time he left, the other teams had stepped up enough to present a challenge. This was actually fairly unusual for F1 dominant periods and provided a level of excitement even during the initial period where the Mercedes was virtually untouchable.
Short Circuit (@jjohn)
26th March 2023, 14:09
Dominance doesn’t affect me
Can’t travel far these days, last London trip was 32 hours from home to wheels down Heathrow. Need medical documents and explanations for drugs. Not trying that out with law enforcement in any other countries.
Not boohoo poor me. Got a could have a good three year “warranty” from docs and into year 8 now!
Loss of free to air does affect and my ability to suss out coverage on net does.
The usual F2 dramas? DILLIGAF.
Short Circuit (@jjohn)
26th March 2023, 14:10
26th March 2023, 14:55
Obviously the people who come to this website are unlikely to be the ones affected by team dominance.
David BR (@david-br)
26th March 2023, 15:03
Slightly less likely to watch all the GPS or quali sessions. Two kind of dull races so far in 2023. I mean, there’s stuff to be interested in but for how long this season, I don’t know. It seems to me that FIA/Liberty have quite knowingly tipped the balance in favour of Red Bull (and to a lesser extent Ferrari) over recent years to dethrone Mercedes. What they need, though, is ‘narrative’ – which is where I think they may come unstuck. The only possible narrative is a Mercedes resurgence or Aston Martin getting close enough for Alonso to pose some kind of threat to RB/Verstappen dominance. Verstappen versus Perez isn’t going to happen – it’s a Schumacher-Barrichello scenario, far, faraway from Prost-Senna. If the other teams can’t get close, how on earth are FIA/Liberty going to sell some excitement?
26th March 2023, 15:03
A team/driver dominating be it for 1 season or several has never bothered me or affected how I watch.
I’ve always just looked at it as been a part of the sport because a team/driver having a big advantage over anyone else has been something that has been a part of the sport not just from the start of the F1 world championship in 1950 but going back to the very start of the sport itself.
And actually when you look back you notice that even in races & seasons where the victor is considered to have dominated today things are still a lot closer & we get significantly more competition overall than was the case in times past.
26th March 2023, 15:03
It is absolutely affected. I guess with time, seeing F1 cars drive around isn’t that exciting on its own anymore. So if there is no ‘story’ to get invested in, or some competitive unpredictability that could make watching the whole thing relevant – then it’s usually highlights-only for me. And while the qualifying highlight videos F1 makes are generally very poor, their race highlights videos tend to cover all the relevant moments pretty decently (which I suppose is a poor reflection on current F1 in and of itself, but that’s another subject).
With so many racing series now offering a solid online experience it’s a case of whether I want to catch up with a whole bunch of those in about an hour or so, or spend close to 2 hours watching just F1. It’s usually an easy choice.
I still wouldn’t watch most of the weekend if F1 did have a competitive battle for wins and titles, but the races themselves – like in 2021 and the first half of 2022 probably would be seen live.
26th March 2023, 16:09
Periods of dominance build in a long term narrative of David Vs Goliath to which new legends are born. So there is a story to get invested in and this is partially why F1 IS so dominant itself. People have it completely backwards.
Other racing series aren’t in the same universe as F1 and provide absolutely zero competition.
26th March 2023, 17:26
Legends are overrated. How many people still talked about Schumacher two seasons into the 2013 season? Does anybody miss Vettel from the grid today? How many younger fans even know that Button isn’t just a charming guest commentator?
People care about ‘F1’. This was Ecclestone’s brilliance. F1 attracts a huge audience, indeed far in excess of any other racing series. But that’s mostly a marketing success rather than indicative of any special qualities F1 may or may not have as a racing series. Ecclestone and his cohorts managed to turn F1 as it had been until the late 70s into a professionally run entertainment product with guaranteed team attendance, fixed calendars, an overarching season-long narrative, and a general ‘made for tv’ setup.
26th March 2023, 15:23
I answered “slightly reduced”, but that might be partly just a natural fluctuation. For example, I wasn’t that engaged with the 2001 or 2002 seasons partly due to the Finnish broadcasting team changing (and me growing older; I started watching in 1996 and was in my late teens when Schumacher dominated), not just because Ferrari domination. Same with Red Bull’s success later on; I watched and recorded every practice session and news snippet from 2008 onwards, until around 2013, and I realised I was tired and started watching predominantly just the qualifying and races.
26th March 2023, 15:31
In the past: no
It’s actually a combination I watch less races. There are to many races for me to care about the “boring” tracks. Combined with excellent reliability and DRS I just can’t be bothered to watch them.
The other factor is that we can now stream so many racing every weekend. When I started watching f1, there wasn’t a lot of live racing on tv, so I took what I could get. Now I pick the series I like the most every weekend als my time watching racing is limited.
26th March 2023, 15:45
Actually Vettel’s era wasn’t that bad to watch. 2010 & 2012 were brilliant. Different drivers and teams still had a chance to win a race. If you don’t believe me after Hungarian GP 2013 Keith Collantine seriously expected Hamilton to win a championship.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
29th July 2013, 9:00
The gap is too wide
I disagree: Hamilton is within two wins of Vettel with nine races to go. We’ve seen similar deficits overturned in shorter spaces of time.
26th March 2023, 16:39
And Vettel won all 9. :)
26th March 2023, 16:51
I have to stand up for Keith. Hamilton went even further :)
First Mercedes win gives Lewis Hamilton belief he can win 10 races. His victory in Hungary has instilled belief in his Mercedes.
“Last year I didn’t feel like I had the car to win 10 races,” Hamilton said. “This year I feel I have a car that can win 10 races. The tyres are going to play a massive part of that but I truly believe in this car. It feels awesome.
It feels it’s there with the Red Bulls and the Lotuses. I think our pace was very similar. If we can continue with that qualifying pace, get ourselves up front and have the tyres working as they did [on Sunday] we can fight with them.”
26th March 2023, 15:53
Dominating takes something away from F1 but I still watch every race. I grew up in the Michael years and to be honest
back then well before I was 10 I wanted to kill him. I was so angry because I remeber him winning everything. When I played the games half of the time I crashed in to him or started as him and finish last. Vettel era was frustrating because I was team Alonso. Mercedes domination remind me of Michael era because it felt like it. I don’t know what it’s like to be a fan of someone who always wins. I had a few of those kind of moments in other sports but it was back when I was a kid and didn’t follow them as closely as F1.
It seems like Germany boreded themselves watching Michael because people spoke about it when Vettel was winning.
26th March 2023, 16:40
I am big fans of both and F1 may be bigger, but IndyCar is WAY better for excitement! No comparison.
26th March 2023, 16:43
I was Schumi’s #1 fan but even I was so bored of him and Ferrari winning all the time. I never missed a race. But I was very bored for a long time.
26th March 2023, 21:13
I was also a schumacher fan but wasn’t bored; I found the merc era terrible and am now getting bored about red bull dominating too, despite me actually liking the team.
26th March 2023, 16:46
Domination hasn’t affected my viewership because I persevere, not because I enjoy it. I persevere because I know how exciting the sport CAN be and hope for this to return.
Also I find it interesting that people consider the Schumacher/Ferrari domination to be so bad/boring in particular. They didn’t not dominate 2000 or 2003, meaning there were only three seasons of out right domination, arguably the fewest of the 3 major examples of domination since 2000.
What Mercedes have done has been awful and far more prolonged. 7 consecutive seasons with, at absolute best, a competition between the two Mercedes drivers and even that’s a stretch.
I sincerely hope Red Bull aren’t about to do the same thing.
26th March 2023, 17:25
Generally I will watch all races until the mid-season. If by July – August one team AND one driver is dominating I only watch occasionally from there, mainly tracks that I love and just watch 30mins recaps of the other races.
Regardless of what people think, utter dominance is not that common:
Red Bull dominated 2011 and 2013 but 2010 and 2012 were very close.
Mercedes dominated 2014 to 2017 but I didn’t mind 2014 and 2016 because the Hamilton – Rosberg fight was quite OK. Surely the other teams were so far back it was like Formula 1.5 but still, the winning driver was not a given. In 2017 and 2018 there was an early Ferrari challenge that faded.
2019 was pretty dominant for Mercedes but at least we had Charles and the illegal Ferrari PU to provide some interesting racing. 2020 was probably the worst recent season, 2021 was epic and 2022 was interesting until Ferrari imploded. 2023 seems like it will be a repeat of 2021 but let’s wait and see.
26th March 2023, 21:15
There must be a mistake here, 2023 a repeat of 2021?
26th March 2023, 18:06
Although I am a relatively new fan, one thing I have found is that different dynamics in the title battle affect how I assess a race more than how much I watch. I started following during the Hamilton vs Vettel title battles in 2017 and 2018, so got used to a couple of championships where there was at least some competition. Since then I’ve experienced 2 years of Merc dominance, one of the title battles for the ages, and a year of Red Bull dominance (partly inflicted by Ferrari’s persistent habit of shooting themselves in the foot), and what looks set to be another year of the same.
What I have found is that I appreciate a good race more in a dominant season than in one where there is a close battle. I’m going to use a few examples here:
2021 Spanish GP: Lewis makes an extra stop and chases down Max, making a late pass for the win. Before the 2021 season, most of us would have killed for a race like that at Catalunya. But against the backdrop and hindsight of the rest of the 2021 season, it feels distinctly average.
2019 Hungarian GP: Very much the same formula as above: Lewis makes an extra stop and chases down Max, making a late pass for the win. But this one sticks in my memory better for some reason. And I think that’s down to the fact that in 2019, seeing someone be able to challenge the Mercs made a race more exciting, and more like on of the season’s highlights.
However, just because the championship feels like a foregone conclusion, doesn’t mean that the races have to be boring. A good example that I remember is the 2020 season. Sure, Merc won 13 of the 17 races, but I think there are more races I remember vividly than from the previous two seasons combined. The Austria, British, 70th Anniversary, Italian, Tuscan, Turkish, and Sakhir GPs were all fantastic (and I strongly remember Bahrain, albeit for very different reasons), even if Merc won ran away with both titles and won 4 of the 7 races I mentioned.
I don’t think its necessarily the dominance that makes a season boring, it still comes down to the quality of the individual races. And at the end of the day, that’s why I usually continue to watch, even if it is a bit dull, because you always hope today will be the one that’s different. After all, one of the last races that I did just ignore and not make any attempt to follow live was the 2019 German GP, and we know how that turned out.
26th March 2023, 18:09
No, it kinda of helps I’m a fan of Michael Schumacher, even if he was dirty at times, and the team didn’t allow their second driver to compete with the first driver. I liked the races during the Red Bull era(2010-2014), they were quite exciting. 2014-2016 was good for the Hamilton-Rosberg battle. 2021 was quite epic, even if race direction and Michael Masi were in cahoots, and Verstappen started driving dirty in the last few races.
26th March 2023, 21:35
Verstappen’s extreme defense was the only way to keep the championship going once mercedes went back to having a much faster car the last 4 races, any other style of driving would’ve meant delivering the title to hamilton.
David BR (@david-br)
27th March 2023, 1:54
@esploratore1 Mercedes took a new engine for Hamilton and exploited the power advantage well. Plus Hamilton was also very clearly in form over the final set of races. Those fact didn’t justify Verstappen’s driving in Brazil or, especially, in Saudi Arabia. But he got away with it thanks to relentless Red Bull pressure on Masi and FIA. I still don’t see him as a legitimate winner of that championship.
Le Jimster (@lejimster82)
26th March 2023, 19:13
I think when I was younger and Schumacher was dominating, I would watch F1 occasionally and fall asleep if Schumacher was lapping everyone. At some point I started picking out individual drivers to follow, so I would watch their race really closely.. That helps keep you awake and engaged.
Still, even if you have a driver to follow overall the races aren’t as entertaining if a driver you don’t care for keeps winning race after race, year after year. So I wouldn’t say I was or am fan of Schumi, Vettel, Verstappen. Hamilton changed a lot since his McLaren days, I used to be a big fan, but I can’t stand him now.
Regardless, I still watch every race in full, 99% of them live (except possibly Australia and Japan if I’m super tired..). I try to watch the majority of the practice sessions and full replays of qualifying as I’m usually at work.
26th March 2023, 21:34
Schumacher never lapped everyone at ferrari, but he did once at benetton, the one race where he and senna fought in 1994, brazil, he also got really close, only missed the team mate, in the following gp.
Jim from US (@jimfromus)
26th March 2023, 19:21
I don’t think dominance by 1 team matters as long as there are compelling stories. This season, the battle between VER and PER could be epic, and I think that extends to almost every team because the teammates throughout the grid are closely matched. Unfortunately, the manufacturers don’t seem matched at the moment as reliability issues will cause the teams to be close and not straight performance. Much too early in the campaign to call it a bust.
Jan Schoonderbeek (@clearbrooke)
26th March 2023, 19:43
I watched F1 from 1987 onward; I stopped watching completely due to the Ferrari dominance in 2001 or 2002, after falling asleep on the couch watching a race – only being awakened by the podium ceremony music. Only came back in 2014 when I was wondering what, if anything, young Verstappen could do…
26th March 2023, 21:38
Verstappen was considered a future world champion by almost everyone, but mercedes was so strong I doubted if he’d ever get the car for it, and as soon as he got a really competitive car in 2021 he did it, was really interesting, then unfortunately his car ended up dominating, as if he needed it, 2022 could’ve been very interesting too with him vs leclerc in similar cars.
Tommy C (@tommy-c)
26th March 2023, 20:21
Not one bit. At the end of the day, F1 cars are incredible pieces of machinery that will hold by attention whether they’re racing wheel to wheel or not. I would happily watch a single car lap and it would be more entertaining to me than many other things. Teams finding more time than others has always been a thing and it’s to be expected every so often. Spec series exist if performance equality is the primary factor for one’s entertainment. I’ve only missed about 3 races live since 2007 and the ones I missed I watched on replay without knowing the result. Quite the feat with Australia’s timezone difference!
Pironi the Provocateur (@pironitheprovocateur)
26th March 2023, 20:36
Ever since I’ve started watching in 2003, I missed only the better part of 2013 and then the 14-16 period. So from my personal experience, the strong dominance is definitely a factor, especially long-term one.
26th March 2023, 21:33
Only if it’s Red Bull. I find Christian Horner to be a whinging git who politicizes everything that happens to him, or anything related to Red Bull. I believe he’s the only team principal who’s threatened to sue people for telling the truth about his team.
Similarly, when Vettel, and now Verstappen, are winning– it’s all about them, not about the quality of their team or the fact that they’re fortunate enough to have a car designed by the most successful aerodynamicist in F1.
Hamilton in the Mercedes never neglected to thank the team, both trackside and back in the factory, for his wins.
In order to win in F1, you’ve got the have the car, the team, the driver, and a bit of luck– and drivers who don’t respect that annoy me.
26th March 2023, 21:38
I’m shutting down my interest little by little and only watch qualifying sessions and races, when these arent too early or too late in the day.
There have been way too many bad seasons and i understand that this port just isnt very entertaining. There are better things to do and to watch.
26th March 2023, 21:42
I’m also less interested in the season because there’s not a real fight for the win most of the times, I think I’ll keep watching them anyway, at least could be an interesting 3 way battle for 2nd.
26th March 2023, 23:56
doesn’t bother me if one team dominates, to me that’s part of what F1 is…the whole development race. however i would say the races since the hybrid era have (in my opinion) been a lot less exciting than they were pre 2014. that’s not to do with a team dominating though, i think it’s just down to drivers driving ‘within themselves’ so much due to how much they have to conserve tyres/the engine/everything these days. also they just get fed so much information via the radio (and also through the data the team have gathered which is far more advanced than what it used to be), they’re doing very little decision making themselves. a lot of the time most of the drivers seem half asleep during races. that’s not their fault, it’s just what F1 has become.
Phil Norman (@phil-f1-21)
26th March 2023, 23:59
I answered slightly reduced. I think a dominant team does reduce my viewing slightly in that I might miss a race or two owing to some other commitment and not be bothered about it.
I think it’s more that dominant drivers are the issue though. I find myself disliking some of them at the time e.g. Schumacher and Vettel when they were dominant, although still respecting them as drivers. On the other hand I found the Hamilton/Rosberg rivalry quite exciting.
I started watching F1 in the mid 1980s so it’s been a long time. My interest has been pretty constant throughout. I think the only periods that really tried my patience were the 2002 to 2004 Schumacher era and then some of years of Vettel’s repeated wins.
I think it’s becoming more difficult though because of the time commitment involved. I am sure I am not alone in wishing F1 had stuck to 18 to 20 races. 23 or more is just too many. And of course if events are dominated by one team or driver it becomes easier for the commitment to viewing to become less important in the greater scheme of things.
27th March 2023, 18:44
@phil-f1-21 I generally agree, but I’m always cautious about this:
I did that a few times in 2019, and missed Austria (particularly put off by the borefest that was France the week before) and Germany, two of the best races not just of the season, but of the hybrid era (in my opinion). Since then, I’ve always tried to keep a following on the race. Even if I haven’t been able to watch it, I’ll check my phone a few times during the race (I’m no good for avoiding spoilers!) or stick it on the radio if I can.
Definitely agree about too many races. I find about 20 or 21 to be the right amount personally, but the 22 of last season and 23 this year just starts to drag it out a bit.
27th March 2023, 18:45
I’ll also add that having 3 (or now 6) sprint races also doesn’t help in terms of the season feeling too long.
27th March 2023, 0:28
I think it depends if there is enough intrigue to keep me interested. I was a bit bored in the 2001-2004 period when Ferrari started to dominate. I didn’t mind the Vettel years as there was a lot of gooodn
27th March 2023, 0:34
good battles. The Mercedes years were predictable but the first 3 felt like Hamilton getting the titles he deserved having narrowly missing out previous years. I enjoyed the Ferrari battles for a few years then 2019-2020 got a bit boring. The recent Red Bull domination feels cheap due to the cheating. I think had 2021 gone to Hamilton, people would have more patience with RB dominating. I’ve not stopped watching and will likely enjoy seeing how Mclaren and Mercedes try to recover this year and whether Ferrari get their act together.
David BR (@david-br)
27th March 2023, 2:00
@slowmo Precisely what I was thinking the other day. The leniency with which Verstappen was allowed to drive in 2021, plus FIA’s refusal to accept Masi had utterly messed up the end of the final race, not only denied Hamilton his 8th title (and Liberty/FIA the story of a new bar being set) it also tarnished Verstappen’s first championship and took the edge of last year, which would have been all about him as a new champion and Formula 1 entering a new era.
27th March 2023, 1:22
As a fan, I continue watching so I can see how the teams I like fair against the rest of the field. I think a more interesting question would be, “how does the dominance of one team in F1 affect your willingness to spend money for tickets to GPs and on other merchandise?” I’m part of the Tifosi, and always have been since the days of Gerhard Berger, but I’m not planning on spending a lot of disposable cash on any GPs this year with the RBR dominance, although Fernando has me questioning that.
27th March 2023, 5:46
One team dominating has never been an issue for me.
The sheer volume of races, sprints etc has , as has the moving of the start time one hour (or more in some cases) as it ruined my ability to watch races live.
I started cherry picking races last season as there were just too many, and found that after years of watching every single race, I wasn’t really bothered by missing a fair few.
When this season started, it was pretty obvious that the chasing pack wasn’t going to catch up so I’ve not even bothered to watch. Saved a bundle on Kayo subscription as well.
As I feared, the introduction of the new regulations and budget cap has led to one team getting things super right and the rest floundering. In pre budget cap days at least two teams would’ve been throwing obscene amounts of cash at developing new cars to accelerate their competitiveness but these days, if they got it wrong, they’ve essentially relegated themselves to another season of poor performance rather than bringing a huge (sometimes complete B spec) upgrade during the season.
I’m not advocating that the budget cap be removed, just pointing out that this was always going to be a consequence of having it if teams get things wrong and a heap of teams did.
For now, I’m OK with not watching/attending. With the obscene prices for attendance these days, it’s unlikely I’ll attend in the future, but I might start watching (some but definitely not all 23 or so) again in a season or two when other teams get their collective acts together.
27th March 2023, 6:34
Enjoyment took a dive with each dominant period, but then the focus became the mid pack. The commentary was pitiful during some periods, with some on each commentary team being over the top about their favourite drivers, I remember after Vettel was booed on the podium, after that Brundle became over the top with praise and gushed all over him like a schoolgirl. I swear he has to have a Vettel pin-up in his bedroom to this day.
27th March 2023, 8:12
Been watching / reading since 1970.
Here’s the thing.
The cars (and drivers) were exciting to watch in the “old days” regardless of how many passes, how tight the battles, etc. Those cars had more power than grip, and were small and agile.
Today’s cars are fundamentally boring to watch, almost w/o regards to how much passing and dicing is taking place, particularly under DRS. Today’s cars have more grip than power, and it’s like watching a pack of locomotives.
27th March 2023, 9:02
The only era of F1 where my viewing greatly reduced was during the domination of Ferrari/Schumacher in the early to mid-2000s. Didn’t start watching again until 2009.
However, this was not necessarily related to Schumacher’s dominance (although as a Brit, his driving against Damon Hill will never be forgiven), but more due to my visceral hatred of ITVs coverage. As one who’d been used to the BBC, having to tolerate adverts during the race was intolerable. Also, never did like the grooved tyres and refuelling era.
When the BBC lost the rights to Sky in 2015, as I was already a Sky HD customer, I got Sky F1HD for free, which is the only reason I’ve not cancelled my Sky subscription. As it’s still the best way to watch F1 in the UK.
27th March 2023, 11:15
It entirely depends, a lot of the problem comes from whether anyone else is given a chance, especially within the dominating team. If you go back to Ferrari’s last period of dominance cars weren’t as near-bullet proof reliable as they are now so even dominating teams may break down giving others a chance to snatch a win.
Mercedes’ period of dominance wasn’t as bad as people like to make out as they frequently had either Ferrari or Red Bull to contend with and once they’d fended them off the two drivers were given equal chance to win, something Red Bull isn’t interested in doing.
When you get one team easily dominating through dubious methods with a clear number one driver then dominance becomes an issue.
27th March 2023, 13:34
Previously no, now yes.
I watched 90% of races during previous period of dominance. However, there are far more races nowadays. Previously, getting to race four and seeing a season of dominance means I still watch another ten or eleven races if I do 90%. Doing the same today, watching 90%, would mean I watch about seventeen (not including sprints). Ten I can manage, whereas seventeen is too much. I would prefer to just watch an entire season of another type of motorsport.
If Alonso did not have a good car this season I might have already stopped largely watching, just keeping up with the results and just watching Spa, Suzuaka and Interlagos.
27th March 2023, 22:17
dominant car is okay.
team orders are turn offs.
i have seen Barichello,and Massa cry after loosing a race due to team orders, that is really bad
Duncan Idaho (@didaho)
28th March 2023, 13:38
I didn’t care too much when RB or Merc were dominating prior to 2020, plenty of other things to keep an eye on than the WDC or even the race win.
But my overall viewing has stayed about the same since the reduced season in 2020 – seems the more races there are, the less interest I have in any particular race and it certainly tailed off last year after the Ferrari challenge hit the wall.
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