Sunday Roast: Formula One has been ruined

Sunday Roast Corby F1

SOME sports are better watched with the sound turned down. Rugby league, for example, will make your brain hurt if Ray ‘Rabbits’ Warren is punishing the punditry.

A man who earned his nickname because it only takes two rabbits’ brains to exceed his IQ, by a factor of 50, it would be unfair to describe him as a person who speaks before he thinks, because that would suggest he had other options.

Throw in the grumpy, lumpy Phil Gould and every game of league makes you pine for the days when Roy and HG were simulcasting on Triple J.

AFL, however, has excellent commentators, who actually add something to your appreciation of the game, as do the NBA and NFL experts on ESPN and even, surprisingly, Lleyton Hewitt when he joins Jim Courier in the box at the Australian Open for tennis.

Motor sport, obviously, is a televisual spectacle best experienced in surround sound with your speakers turned up to I Hate My Neighbours. Or at least it used to be.

I’m currently going through an upsetting divorce from one of my favourite sports, Formula One, and it’s taken me a little while to realise why.

Anyone who’s ever attended a grand prix live will tell you that the ear-shattering, skull-thumping noise of the cars is one of the best things about it. Better even than the overtaking, clearly, because otherwise I might have given up on it a few years ago.

Obviously it’s simplistic to blame a festering lack of care factor – I even missed Daniel Ricciardo’s first win, which appalls me on many levels – on a change to noise levels I’m only hearing via television anyway, but the fact is the sound problem is symptomatic.

After all, I’ve put up with the simpering stupidity of the infamously cock-voiced James Allen, and that didn’t put me off, but seriously, this year’s cars sound like a beehive being poked with a stick, two suburbs away. Where’s the visceral thrill in that?

Frankly, a V10 is a real F1 engine. Even a screaming V8 will do. But a 1.6-litre V6 with hybrid technology? If I cared less, it would be netball.

Adding to the perfect shit storm, this season is turning into a procession of Mercedes domination, which is somehow even less attractive than several years of Sebastian Vettel winning everything.

Sure, Lewis Hamilton has his charms – he’s a proper racer for a start – but Nico Rosberg? I interviewed him once and after five minutes I gave up and started asking questions of a cardboard cut-out of him that happened to be in the corner of the room, just to see if I could tell the difference.

I’m not the only one disheartened, though. Even Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo suggested this week that F1 “isn’t working” (presumably at least partly because his team isn’t winning), adding that he might pull his iconic cars out.

He made the salient point that the governing body seems to have forgotten that people watch the racing “for the excitement – nobody watches racing for the efficiency, come on”.

“People watch racing to be entertained,” he said. “No one wants to watch a driver save gas or tyres. They want to see them push from here to there. It’s sport, yes, but also a show.”

Sadly, it’s a show I no longer want to watch, although I do wish Our Daniel all the best.

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.

Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!