- The surprising podium from the 2020 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix in Monza (From L to R: Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll). All rights retained by Formula 1.

The Engineering Paradox in Formula 1

Formula 1 has always aimed to be the pinnacle of automotive technology, but that could possibly hurting the sport.

1w ago


There is no denying that what the 12-time consecutive World Champions (6 Constructor, 6 Driver's) Mercedes-Benz AMG Petronas Formula 1 team have achieved is nothing short of extraordinary. Throughout the hybrid era of Formula 1 (2014 - ), the Brackley-based ├ęcurie has had such a dominant car, they've not had any real competition in the field--not even from the likes of their closest rivals Aston Martin Red Bull Racing or the Scuderia Ferrari racing teams. In 2020 however, the performance gap seems to have widened even further, with Ferrari's Charles LeClerc stating that their car is "extremely hard to drive" and Red Bull's Max Verstappen win in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix being the only non-Mercedes win yet, this season. Until now.

I started watching the Italian GP at 8:00 AM this morning (living in the United States), eyes half-shut, not expecting much. Indeed, I was about to shut off the race after the first 15 laps or so because there was just no action whatsoever. By lap 20 however, Magnussen's break-down followed by the safety car made me open my eyes a bit more. I was just expecting a series of pit-stops, but at least the ordering would have changed and the field would have been closer together again. However, at that very moment, Martin Brundle mentioned a team error and possible penalty for Lewis Hamilton. Now, it pains me to write this because I have such an enormous amount of respect for Hamilton, but I was suddenly very excited. The dominance of Mercedes and especially Hamilton was so massive that it sometimes seemed the only way we got a more diversified result (hence, more exciting race), was for Hamilton to be penalized or DNF. Then, LeClerc crashed, causing a Red Flag. Now I was fully awake, very excited for the sequel, but most importantly, tremendously relieved to see the Monegasque was unharmed.

What happened next, I won't even summarize, mostly because I can't find the words to express the thrill I felt of being an F1 fan again. The unpredictability, the "unusual" young race leaders, the under-dog teams leading the pack--it had it all. This race reminded me what it felt like to watch racing at its very finest; it reminded me of Sebastian Vettel's win with Toro Rosso back in 2008; it reminded me of what Formula 1 was all about. It's incredible to see the the amount of work and engineering that goes into making the best racing machines possible, which Mercedes have most certainly achieved, but at the end of the day, when a team is so far ahead of the others, it becomes a bit repetitive, even boring. In short, Formula 1 is at its best when it becomes a Driver's championship, rather than a Constructor's--this, I fear, is what has been taken away from the sport due to Mercedes' engineering brilliance during the Hybrid Era. I, for one, am glad I did not turn off the race. I haven't enjoyed a race this much since the Mercedes duel in the desert between Hamilton and Rosberg back in Bahrain of 2014, even though it arised from a series of unlikely events.

Perhaps Ted Kravitz and the gentlemen at Sky Sports are correct: maybe we should implement reverse qualifying in Formula 1? What do you think?

A massive congratulations to Pierre Gasly, the entire Scuderia Alpha Tauri Formula One Team. You deserve this win and so much more!

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Comments (5)

  • Good article and finally, a good race - even Hamilton actually did some racing today (for the first time in ages). A few repeats of action like today and we can actually start referring to 2020 as a proper championship year...

      13 days ago
    • Absolutely! Unfortunately, given the number of things that have to go wrong for these kinds of races, I don't think we'll see anything like this soon. Still, any race that has the top contender(s) in the midfield is a much more worthwhile...

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        13 days ago
    • With the current level of Ferrari, who knows what means they will utilise to not finish a race over the rest of the season - could spice things up a bit more yet...

        13 days ago
  • Hopefully 2022 will bring the field closer. Great post!

      13 days ago
    • That's what I'm hoping! Although there will always be front-runners, if it can at least be a bit more spontaneous, it'll greatly improve the fans' viewership experience.

        13 days ago