The 2022 F1 racing season is now well underway, and, well, it’s been more exciting than usual. We are two races in to the new season, and any suggestion that it was going to be more of the same have been blown out of the water. Ferrari, a team that was expected to struggle, is at the top of the Constructors’ Championship, with its drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, leasing the way in the Drivers’ Championship. Mercedes, which was expected to continue its dominance over F1, has yet to place a driver 1st or 2nd.
In short, there is a sense of unpredictability about F1 that hasn’t been present in several years. This is reflected in the online betting markets for the sport, where the likes of Lewis Hamilton has seen his odds gutted from where they were preseason. While last year’s champion, Max Verstappen, remains the favourite, there is a sense that anything can happen, and that includes seeing a surprise champion.
Unpredictability adds to growing sense of F1 drama
While having unpredictable results does not, in and of itself, make for a better sports event, there was certainly something lacking in that department in F1 in recent years. Yes, last year’s battle for the world title between Hamilton and Verstappen went down to the wire, hanging on a knife edge in a controversial finish in Abu Dhabi. But generally over the last decade fans of gone into races thinking that maybe one or two drivers have a serious chance to win. As for an entire season, you could bet your bottom dollar that Mercedes would triumph, with Red Bull in second.
The sport did fine throughout those few years – F1 will always have millions of diehard fans around the world. But as for appealing to the casual fan, the lack of true drama was always going to cause a disconnect. It felt like there were few characters in the sport, and very little controversy. The finish to last season and the unpredictability of this one so far has gone a long way to making amends, recapturing the imagination of those fans who wish to see a sport with a gripping narrative.
F1 will be heading to Sin City in 2023
Of course, there is always the chance that business as usual will return. Mercedes stuttering start only spans two races and it’s not as if experts and bookmakers are ruling out a Lewis Hamilton title victory. However, Mercedes seems to have some big issues that will take months to iron out. By the time the Mercedes team gets its car in order, it might be too late. Regardless, the fact we can tune into a Grand Prix with the knowledge that anything can happen is going to make this season a little more appealing to the legions of disgruntled fans who felt the sport had got out of touch.
There’s some other good news for F1 fans this week, as it was announced that from 2023 there will be a Las Vegas Grand Prix. Let’s face it: F1 is often about aesthetics. It’s one of the reasons they have night races in locations like Singapore. But having the Las Vegas Strip as a backdrop to a Grand Prix race is on a whole other level.