It’s difficult being a fan of a team that is not just not winning in F1, but barely edging towards competitiveness most weekends. Fans of anywhere outside the top few teams can expect to tune in without anything to really cheer for every time their side hits the track.
This is not played like other sports. Nottingham Forest fans don’t have to watch every Manchester City game to keep up with their team but Williams loyalists will witness every dominant Red Bull turn in the hope Alex Albon might scrape another point this year.
Full credit to the TV director for actually showing the Spanish Grand Prix scraps between Nyck de Vries and Oscar Piastri for 14th, or a genuinely exciting battle between Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda for the last couple of points places.
Out in front Max Verstappen’s only moment of jeopardy was self-induced, getting a track limits warning while he was going for fastest lap, as his team frantically told him to reel it in.
He could have been penalised twice and still kept the lead, though, so it was hard to feel too worried even for a Red Bull supporter.
Considering it involves driving at hundreds of miles an hour in highly engineered rocketships, F1 doesn’t have much tension to it currently.
There have been no safety cars for two races and no retirements for three, which is a good thing. Chaotic Sundays and bad reliability isn’t how the sport should be.
It is odd, though. Nico Hulkenberg noted in Barcelona: ‘We don’t get many safety cars these days, no?’ Which, for a Haas driver, means there aren’t many chances to score points.
If all the Red Bull, Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari cars finish then the other six teams only have two places to play for in the top ten.
Which means teams aren’t taking risks. For a Williams or Haas there is no point turning the engine up at races they know they won’t be competitive in and bringing the car home safe isn’t a driver failing in a budget-cap era. It’s not a very exciting sporting spectacle to root for, though.
At least we live in the internet age, where there are other ways to follow and fellow backmarker fans to commiserate with. And, there’s always a chance conditions in Canada next week will suit your team’s car better.
Fast women are forced to operate incognito
Last year, shortly after W Series had to curtail its season early for funding reasons, Formula One announced a new programme for women on their way up the junior series ladders, the F1 Academy.
Not running on the grand prix programme and with only 15 cars, it is a 21-race championship in F4 cars intended to give the women involved enough track time to make the step up to Formula Three.
It is not broadcast live, with only a highlights shows making it to YouTube, and they have barely a couple of minutes of each race.
Marta Garcia is leading the points table with Hamda Al Qubaisi chasing her despite recovering from a horrific hand injury earlier this year.
There are definitely stories to tell about it but it’s hard to know what they are given none of us can see it.
W Series collapsing meant F1 Academy was hastily put together but for a series where drivers have to raise six-figure budgets to compete, it is in incognito mode.
Invisible to the paddock, drivers are not being given a platform to showcase themselves or prove their skill. For a series that will make or break the next step of some of their careers, it’s a shame no one will really know how it happened.
Ferrari are sliding backwards
Charles Leclerc was asked after the Spanish Grand Prix if he thought things would get worse before they got better. He said: ‘I would struggle to think it can get worse than that.’ He might regret that by Canada.
Plenty of teams are struggling in 2023. But that is less of a surprise in the midfield compared to Ferrari’s dire performance. Leclerc’s P19 qualifying and pit-lane start was a new low but Carlos Sainz’s race was maybe more damning.
Leclerc’s Sunday was wrecked before it started but Ferrari turned Sainz’s front-row start into a depressing slide back down the field. Fred Vasseur’s leadership was meant to bring coherence to a confused Maranello but, with every race, the car and the team’s response to it gets worse.
Tifosi have been quick to question previous chiefs but resignation seems to have set in this year. They have had worse seasons on paper. But while other teams develop, the red car is going backwards. Barcelona was a brutal show of where they really stand.
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