Formula 1 in 2023 is boring. When a sport consistently gives the same winner for consecutive matches, some fans are sure to be discontent at the lack of a “fight.” Let’s put that into perspective—there are only 23 races this season, and Red Bull’s current world champion, Max Verstappen has a 10-race winning streak coming into the Singapore Grand Prix. That is how dominant he is in 2023. But is it all just a matter of perspective?
Sporting crowns a winner, but the winner is not the sport
Accept it. No matter how much you dislike a player, you still have to give him credit for his sporting ability. I am not a Red Bull fan, quite the opposite really. I support Ferrari, their rival team. Despite my biased position, even I have to accept that Red Bull has the better car and that Verstappen is the best driver in the current season. But this does not stop me from continuing to cheer for my favourite team and their drivers. Why focus on the race leader when there is so much more happening around him? Viewers have a natural tendency to focus on the scoreboard, and in the process ignore all the other intricacies that make a game. A well-angled freekick that didn’t score? Lousy. A beautiful spin by a gymnast with a slight stumble? Unfortunate. A racer climbing multiple positions despite starting from the back? Not worth watching. If this is the current mindset of audiences, then I believe we have lost the purpose of competitive sports, which is to provide a platform for all players to perform. Appreciate the sport as a whole. Don’t just look at the one on the podium, there are still 19 other racers who are eager to prove their worth in Formula 1.
We are watching history in the making
Even as a Ferrari fan, I am in awe of Verstappen’s performance on the track. Each turn and corner is executed with finesse and without flaw. He is pushing the limits of the sport, and is arguably in better form than he was in previous years. We should be proud of it and excited to see how much he can continue to push. A player who breaks records is one to be celebrated, not shunned. At the pinnacle of any sport, spectators anticipate witnessing unparalleled performances by the best players, even when the outcome is predictable, because it is the extraordinary skills, creativity, and dedication of these athletes that continue to mesmerise and inspire fans worldwide. However, this comparison is not as clear-cut when compared to previous sporting legends before him. Every race is not only against the current drivers but also a mental race against past world champions. While Verstappen is far from matching the seven-world championship titles of legends like Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, his journey is a testament to the evolving nature of the sport. Verstappen still has some runway left, and I don’t think we have seen the best of him. We are fortunate to be able to witness the rise of a sporting prodigy in this current era and his achievements should be celebrated as triumphs for the sport as a whole.
Dominance is not permanent
Just as I talked about peak form and performance, we cannot expect the same player to deliver that forever. They are ultimately human, and they do suffer from periods of injury and stress. Given the dynamic nature of sports, the current leader is not guaranteed to hold his spot forever. Coming into the Singapore Grand Prix, I expected Red Bull to win, as it has been for the past 10 races. But I am glad to still have tuned in and watched the race. It was a pleasant surprise to not see Red Bull, but three different teams taking the podium, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finishing first. My favourite team winning the race in my home country was of course the icing on the cake. It is in these occasional moments that we see underdogs rise and prove their potential. It wasn’t too long ago when Formula 1 was dominated by Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, and fans lamented the same idea that races were getting “boring”. But from time to time, contenders came up to challenge his dominance, be it his teammates or younger drivers looking to impress. Every rival team is waiting to take the top spot, and it is only a matter of time before someone steps up to match Verstappen, or even overtake him. When that time comes, it would be a huge regret to hear it from the news. Nothing beats the feeling of watching a historic moment live.
The chequered flag
Formula 1 embodies the essence of evolution, not just in technology but in the spirit of competition. Every lap, every overtake, and every pit stop is a testament to human ingenuity and the ceaseless quest for perfection. While Verstappen’s dominance paints the current canvas, the underlying theme is one of constant change. The unpredictability is the very soul of sports—it keeps us on the edge of our seats, reminding us that in the realm of competition, nothing is ever guaranteed.