No matter which army you fought for – Max Verstappen’s or Lewis Hamilton’s – after last year’s Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy, at least that event had one thing: something on the line.
Last season looked as if we were embarking on a period of Formula 1 where three constructors could fight it out all year round, like the good old days, and coming to the end of single constructor dominance.
But ahead of this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, we’re back to a sport which has very little left on the table to fight for – maybe that’s why governing body the FIA have waited so long to issue their punishment for Red Bull’s spending cap breaches.
Max Verstappen was sublime on his quest for a second world championship, but as with his first title controversy remains.
Red Bull have been found guilty of breaching the spending cap, a restriction placed on budgets to try and minimise the gap between the big three – Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes – and the also rans.
McLaren boss Zak Brown said this constituted cheating while seven-time world champion and runner-up last year Lewis Hamilton said the whiff of rule breaking “brings up a little bit of emotion”.
Formula 1 leads and innovates on so many themes in sport – look at Drive to Survive and the subsequent copycat series’.
But its governance has come under fire for its decisions on and off the track: controversial race calls, locations of Grands Prix, the ever-growing calendar. The list goes on.
Quick, swift action on the Red Bull saga could have quashed the subsequent discourse, but that wouldn’t quite be Formula 1, would it?
Instead a vacuum for fan conspiracy and infighting opened with unfounded figures, calls of cheating and general argumentative behaviour – all completely avoidable.
So when there is nothing left to fight for except race wins, is this really how Formula 1 wants to get headlines – lagging on important decisions that fans are passionate about?
Mexico has become a modern icon on the Formula 1 circuit; its stadium-like arena and carnival atmosphere are intoxicating to onlookers.
The focus should be on that race, and then Brazil and Abu Dhabi – the difference between third and fourth in the constructors’ standings, for example, equates to millions in crucial funding.
The storylines on the track remain, in spite of both titles being wrapped up, so it is a shame to see the sport allowing itself to be embroiled in off track matters that could have been cleared up a lot earlier.
At least, though, it will make a good episode for the next series of Drive to Survive.