As thick clouds rolled ever closer to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, fans turned to the radar instead of the race broadcast in hopes of watching something interesting. The promise of rain was far more exciting than the on-track Formula One action, where almost a full minute separated the top three positions from the rest of the grid for a significant period of time.
F1 is chronically boring. We’ve known that for a few years now, but nothing has changed no matter how high our hopes grow at the start of each season. Praying for a surprise rain shower or a yellow flag to save the race just isn’t sustainable for any racing series, let alone the so-called pinnacle that is F1.
I’m of the opinion that this is a bigger problem than F1 makes it out to be. The Powers That Be generally seem to shrug it off as the nature of the sport, throwing fans the occasional bone to present the illusion of change. But the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix has been about what we can come to expect from F1: a parade.
For a change to be of any significance, it needs to be systemic. There’s a chance that cost caps could theoretically level the playing field, but I can’t quite see it reversing decades of ingrained attitudes regarding dominance and flippant spending. There is, as Racing Point has shown, always a loophole.
While I’ve jokingly suggested implementing NASCAR’s stage system, it’s also pretty obvious that F1's problems (like NASCAR’s) can’t just be patched over with the gimmick band-aid. I found myself wondering if the Spanish GP would be more entertaining with sprinklers wetting the track so that I wouldn’t have to hit ‘refresh’ on the radar over and over—something that I’ve absolutely hated in the past.
Lewis Hamilton won the race from pole position, with one of the few significant changes in position when Charles Leclerc spun his car and was forced to retire. There were no yellow flags. Even the three pit stop strategy couldn’t save the race. Even Hamilton himself seemed as bored up front, like that one obnoxious kid who brags about how easy the final exam was.
2020 has given us a chance to play with the schedule and see what works. Barcelona, unfortunately, is one of those tracks that just doesn’t seem to put on compelling races. It might be time for some systemic change, starting with getting rid of the tracks that just grow more and more boring as the years pass.