Is Formula One in Danger of Becoming Too Predictable?

Lewis Hamilton won his fifth Drivers’ Championship crown by finishing fourth in the Mexico Grand Prix. Only a victory for Sebastian Vettel and a finish outside of the points for Hamilton would have kept the race for the title alive, but the Brit held his composure on the track to finish fourth. It was enough to see off the threat of the Ferrari driver.

Although the race for the crown did not have the twists and turns of the tense battle between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the 2016 season, there was enough drama to keep fans and punters interested throughout the campaign. The drawn-out process of the season can be a frustrating aspect for betting markets considering that the new technology employed by bookmakers allows users to punt on virtual racing. It offers immediate results over a three-minute period rather than the weekly races found in Formula One, which are drawn out from the start of the season in Australia in March to the end of the term in the last week of November.

Given the simplistic approach of virtual betting, punters do not need to know team names, drivers or the conditions, which are so influential in deciding the outcome of races. For the casual fan, the prospect of a quicker experience can be more enticing than waiting out time for odds to appear and the action to commence. Hamilton’s dominance of Formula One, especially during the middle to late stretch of the season made the sport predictable at times. The brilliance of the 33-year-old, along with his Mercedes team, allowed him to canter to the crown.

2018 Mexican Grand Prix, Sunday - Wolfgang WilhelmWhen the race is as straightforward as Hamilton has found this campaign, the casual punters will likely not take as much interest in the races and will look for an alternative whether elsewhere or in the virtual racing world. Vettel has threatened in the early stages of the last two terms. The German has enjoyed fast starts, winning back-to-back races in Australia among other triumphs in the opening month of the two campaigns. However, Hamilton has battled back successfully to take a stranglehold of the Drivers’ Championship before sealing his title before the final race.

Battles in the past either between Hamilton and Rosberg, or between Vettel and Fernando Alonso – when the Spaniard was at the peak of his powers – were must see-events on a weekly basis. In 2016, the race went down to the wire when Rosberg had to produce a strong performance in Abu Dhabi to fend off the challenge of his Mercedes team-mate and rival for the Championship. The beauty of the sport is the drama that it can provide. It puts a simulated race into insignificance with so much on the line, producing events that can never be replicated on the screen.

Over the last two seasons, Formula One has lost the drama due to Hamilton’s brilliance behind the wheel. Although there have been dominant eras in the past for drivers of the ilk of Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio, the sport needs serious competition for the Brit to avoid another predictable outcome in the 2019 campaign.