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F1's slow death proves change is needed now

F1's slow death proves change is needed now

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F1's slow death proves change is needed now

F1's slow death proves change is needed now

This time of the year is synonymous with sporting excellence and fans have been treated to some brilliant events recently… just not on race-tracks in Formula 1. It kills us to say it, but is F1 just about the most boring sport to watch right now?

Sunday saw Mercedes take a fifth-straight one-two finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, extending their record-breaking start to the 2019 season and matching the best run in their history.

In essence the action was done at Turn 1 as Lewis Hamilton out-launched the pole-sitting Valtteri Bottas and romped away, the Finn facing no challenge from those behind.

Of course, Mercedes being the team to beat is nothing new in F1, but the total lack of challengers to the Silver Arrows is killing F1.

Ferrari are, of course, the main culprits and perhaps we need to look at ourselves in the F1 world for hyping up the Scuderia to such an extreme after pre-season testing.

Maybe it just speaks to the desperation to see something new.

Constantly aiming both barrels into the feet of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc incredibly isn't working out for the red cars and both had to be given team orders to let the other by in Spain – a clear sign that the strategy was well off.

Red Bull also can't hold a candle to the Silver Arrows, despite Max Verstappen driving the wheels off his RB15 at each race this year.

Not only are Mercedes dominating, but the racing at the front remains dull and predictable, despite the regulation changes for 2019.

The same five drivers have taken the top five places at every race this year and Pierre Gasly's improvement might see that extended further in the races to come.

This is F1's biggest problem. In the fight for casual fans and eyeballs on the product, Liberty Media cannot afford for this to continue.

Just look at a few other sports this week.

In football, the Champions League semi-finals served up two of the most astonishing results in the competition's history. At the start of the week, Manchester City moved ahead of Liverpool in a brilliant title race and Sunday's race in Barcelona was head-to-head with their battle on the final day of the season.

Given the Premier League's global pull, it would be no surprise to see F1's television audience take a major nosedive, especially around the 50-minute mark of the race once the football kicked off.

There appears little hope of turning things around. Verstappen admitted as much this week, having seen Tottenham defeat Ajax in the final minute of their match through the lens of Dutch coverage.

"You can’t [replicate the drama in F1]. It’s basically like being three laps down and suddenly the guy wins the race.

"It’s just a different sport, different things can happen, the emotion as well. It’s like one that game is decisive for the rest of the championship. It’s different: We are doing 21 rounds."

Of course, many fans of F1 are quite strident in their dislike of football, but there are many other distractions.

The NBA Finals have delivered brilliant action, with the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets' clash putting two of the best players in the league – Stephen Curry and James Harden – head-to-head.

What F1 would give for a proper, even battle between its biggest stars.

Instead, Hamilton has had a relatively free run at the title in four of the last five years and only his team-mate – with no experience of a championship campaign – appears in any kind of a position to deny Hamilton taking his sixth title.

And this is not to denigrate Hamilton and his achievements. Nothing is given to him and his consistency of performance since 2014 has been phenomenal.

It's just not good for F1, and F1 fans, to see one team, and often one driver, go with such a weak challenge.

It's not up to Mercedes to let the others catch up, but it is up to Ross Brawn and his team to properly level the playing field.

The race behind the top three teams hints that this is possible. The midfield battle is truly stunning although replicating that at the front of the field is not common in F1 by any stretch.

Still, F1 seem reticent to show such battles in its live coverage. Close racing is often consigned to replays in favour of live coverage of the gapped-out efforts up top.

The current state of things cannot be allowed to go on, fans will not arrive in F1, and even the most ardent will begin to leave, if they haven't already if the current state of affairs goes too much longer.

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