F1 Needs to Put on a Show and Take Fight to Mercedes

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany drives during the race at the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 29, 2015. (Reuters Photo/Thaier Al-Sudani)

By : Alan Baldwin | on 5:53 PM November 30, 2015
Category : Sports, Motorsport

Abu Dhabi. Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene has made it his mission to wipe the smile off the face of Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff next season but others fear Formula One is stuck in a rut.

With the sport facing a long list of challenges off the track, and the usual doom-laden headlines, the lack of competition is causing concern after two years of Mercedes domination.

The 'Silver Arrows' won 16 of 19 races, took 18 pole positions and a record 12 one-two finishes in 2015 with Britain's Lewis Hamilton collecting his third title and second in a row.

Ferrari won the other three races, the same number that Red Bull managed to prise off Mercedes in 2014 when the champions also won the remaining 16 on their way to both titles.

"Crisis is a strong word but there are things that need sorting out for the future," said Red Bull principal Christian Horner, whose team have yet to announce what engine they will have next year after rivals refused to supply them, when considering the sport's state of health.

"Formula One ultimately has to be a show, it has to be entertainment and it has to appeal to a broad spectrum of fans and spectators."

Whether it has done that this season is dubious, with remarkably few overtakes for the lead and 11 races won from pole.

The last two seasons have been an internal battle between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and the German's main push this year was too little too late even if he closed off the year with three wins in a row and six successive poles.

Mercedes scored even more than in 2014, when double points were awarded for the final race, and their drivers finished one-two overall for the second year in a row.

Too predictable

"Predictable and serial winning is difficult for any sport," said Horner, whose own team won four successive drivers' and constructors' titles until the new V6 turbo engine was introduced last year.

"We were accused of it but we never enjoyed the continuity of success or longevity of success," he added. "Two of our world championships went to the last race and we never ever finished first and second in a world championship.

"Inevitably with that kind of predictability, people get turned off. It needs a rejig to bring it closer together. I don't think anybody wants to see Fernando Alonso just taking part. We want to see him competing."

Alonso, who moved from Ferrari to McLaren at the end of last year, has had a hard season and ended the championship raging against the stewards and surrounded by talk of a possible sabbatical.

McLaren, in the first year of a new partnership with Honda, endured their worst ever season with the Japanese manufacturer under-estimating the challenge they faced and unable to do much to improve the engine under rules that limit development.

They will hope to be much better next season but their rivals will not have stood still either and Horner, whose team's Renault engine was also well off the pace, said the rules had to change.

There is plenty of discussion for 2017, when a major revamp is due, but until then the sport must make do with what it has.

The best hope – maybe the only hope – is for Ferrari to be in a position to mount a serious challenge, and Mercedes have said they are wary of the growing threat from Maranello, but Horner was skeptical.

"I think the regulations are extremely stable for next year so obviously Mercedes will inevitably carry on the dominance, such is their margin," he said.

"They will undoubtedly be nearer the top of the curve and get lesser returns than others but it's an enormous gap for any of the teams to fill.

"I'm not sure what the bookies would offer for a repeat performance next year. I shouldn't think the odds are too good."


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