“You know how you could fix F1?” my husband asked me while we were laying in bed the other day. “If the team that dominated the championship just fucked off after they won.”
“Yeah, but they get paid based on how many points they score,” I argued.
“Okay, then pay them to fuck off.”
At first glance, the idea—gleaned, I must admit, from The Grand Tour, where Jeremy Clarkson argues that this is in fact a bad idea which means in reality it must actually be good—is kind of smart. After Lewis Hamilton breezes home with his World Championship win five races before the end of the season, comfortably lining Mercedes’ constructor points, what’s the point of watching the rest of the year? There isn’t one—not unless you’re invested in which driver is going to come home fifth overall in the championship.
The simplest way to solve that problem would be paying the dominant team to go away. Great job, Mercedes—here’s a lump sum, go have a nice vacation. Now, we’ll let chaos reign.
Suddenly, that last stretch of the season that would have been absurdly boring because what’s the point if the championship is already won becomes the most exciting part of the whole season. Suddenly, a ton of new teams have the opportunity to compete for a win. Maybe Pierre Gasly will have a shot at his second win with AlphaTauri. Maybe Williams could score some points. I’m having trouble seeing why that would be a bad thing.
I think the main arguments against this is that it would cost more money and that it’s also kind of gimmicky. So, let me run you through why I disagree with both options.
First of all, F1 is an expensive sport. Yes, I know it’s trying to implement cost caps and reduce how much it takes to compete, so sending the championship winners off with a lump sum and also paying for the winning championship points of the teams and drivers left competing is counterintuitive. You’d spend more money.
But my argument here is that it would be a small price to pay for a better product. And, even more appealing to me is the fact that those smaller teams—like Williams—would have a chance to actually score more points and earn more money, which would then be used to make their cars more competitive the following year, thus theoretically making the championship battle last longer.
And in terms of gimmicks, it’s probably one of the least gimmicky thing you could do compared to some of F1's other ideas, like installing sprinkler systems to make artificially wet races or reversing the grid for the start of the race. It’s not like adding stages to the race the way NASCAR did. It’s not introducing impossibly complex legislation that makes no sense to the casual viewer.
It’s asking the most dominant team that everyone knows to be dominant to take an early start to the off season. Then, we’d get a chance to evaluate the quality of the other drivers and teams left to duke it out.
I’m kind of facetiously claiming this would be easy, but I know that there’s a lot of stuff I’m not taking into consideration, like sponsors that want their brand visible for every single race or tracks that depend on drawing a crowd by ensuring Lewis Hamilton is going to race. But I have to say that it’s an argument that has some merit and is worth having a serious think about.