F1: “Not much of a driver’s championship” – The monumental increase in budgets spent on the cars together with some teams of 1500 employees have significantly shifted the emphasis from Formula 1 being about the old time skills of the drivers and since the millennium F1 is more about the best manufacturer.
This is clearly evidenced in the number of repeat back to back WCC titles won. Since 1999 Ferrari have 6, Renault 2, Ferrari 2 more, Red Bull 4 and Mercedes 8.
3 teams only have won 20 titles in 23 years.
In the first 49 years of F1, the best back to back record was from McLaren who won 4. Ferrari and Williams had 3 and 7 different teams had double WCC’s.
The quote above, which implies F1 is more about the car than the driver comes from an interesting source. During the Indycar pre-season media event this week, 4 times champion and 5 times runner-up, Josef Newgarden, shared his thoughts about F1 and it’s relative competitiveness to Indycar.
“For me the allure of F1 I think is the gravity of the cars. When I think about F1, I think about a manufacturers championship, trying to build the quickest cars that you can within – I should say within an unreasonable budget. That’s what was exciting about it.”
So for one of the USA’s most accomplished racers, his view of F1 is that it is more about spending gazzilions to build cars as technically complex as moon rockets.
Josef was on the GP3 track to F1 in his younger years following a successful run in British Formula Ford. Though a disappointing season with Carlin in 2010 saw the American head back over the pond and pursue a career in Indy.
Over time the allure of racing in F1 for Newgarden has faded as he reveals, “The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been in racing and watched Formula 1, I don’t know it’s somewhere I really want to race. It doesn’t look as much of a driver’s championship to me.”
There have been many who have compared the differences between F1 and Indycar over the years, but Joself’s view is simple.
“I think IndyCar is really where you’re going to get the most competitive product as a racing driver,” Newgarden said. “When you’re a driver at the top level, you want to have an opportunity to compete, to win the championship, to win big races regardless of your situation. I think unfortunately that’s not present in Formula 1.”
The Indycar title in 2021 was taken by a newcomer to the series, just out of his rookie year, Alex Palou. Lewis Hamilton was the last driver in F1 to achieve such a feat back in 2008.
And amazingly for the fans of Indy, for 16 consecutive years, the Indycar title has been decided at the last event of the season.
Newgarden makes an eloquent point; if you want less predictable races and to see the best driver on the day win the race, watch Indycar.
If you want to see which manufacturer gets it right year after year and wins more races than they lose, watch F1.
And for those of you who believe it’s all Lewis, or Seb, or Michael – maybe think again.