In recent years, F1 has enjoyed a resurgence on a global scale. The sport has entered a new dawn with its increasing popularity catapulting it to the forefront of motorsport. What was once an archaic world operating amongst the exclusivity of the elites, has now opened its doors to a much wider audience. The appointment of Liberty Media as Formula 1’s new owners in 2017 has been an undeniable game-changer as they have modernised the sport and brought it into the 21st century.
The most notable change that would’ve hooked a bundle of new fans is Netflix’s F1 series Drive to Survive. The show sought to offer an inside perspective into a sport that had been shut off to the public for so long. With it came an influx of viewers who assisted in launching the international revival of Formula 1, especially in the US.
As F1’s reach continued to traverse the sporting world, it also delivered on track and reached a crescendo that was the iconic 2021 season. The expectations of Formula 1 had been set unrealistically high following the season, so this would only lead to an inevitable downfall as we reached 2022. What was initially billed as possibly the most exciting sport to watch, has now turned into a monotonous routine that is struggling to keep the attention of its new fans.
So, why has Formula 1 become so boring?
Verstappen. Red Bull. The current tight hold that Red Bull have on the sport has turned each race weekend into a predictable outcome in place of what was once a thrilling battle between the best drivers in the world. Now, we still have ample battles between the drivers up and down the grid, it’s just that P1 is almost certainly locked in by Max Verstappen before the race weekend has even started.
Formula 1 is no stranger to periods of sole domination by one single team but for any new fans, this may be unfamiliar territory. For those who experienced the Hamilton/Mercedes era, the Vettel/Red Bull era and the Schumacher/Ferrari era, the past couple of seasons will feel like history repeating itself. We’re seeing the same pattern just with a different driver and different team.
We’ve seen some drivers suggest that a rule change may be apt in order to shake up the grid and provide a break in the current lull that we’ve seen take over the sport, but with impending regulation changes in 2026, this doesn’t look likely. Much has been said about the sport’s current state as many people have been quick to voice how boring it is watching Verstappen win week in and week out. This backlash cannot be understated as recent reports suggest that Red Bull’s dominance may be beginning to hurt the overall sport.
One of the biggest F1 broadcast channels in the States, ABC, has reported a 25% reduction in its viewership this year compared to 2022, which roughly translates to 650,000 views. Whilst it’s not all doom and gloom, it is worth considering how big of an impact Red Bull’s reign will have on the sport. Although the number of fans attending races has shot up, will this be enough to keep the sport afloat?
With Red Bull looking unbeatable at the moment, it may be a couple of years at least before we get a season that even comes close to what we saw in 2021. The teams have gradually managed to chip away at the astronomical gap that Red Bull had at the beginning of the season but it’s still not enough for any team to legitimately challenge Verstappen for a race win.
Every sport will go through its ups and downs, but can Formula 1’s fans hold on long enough to see the pinnacle of motorsport reach its next high?