Formula One: Even Arnie can’t mask the troubled start

After several withdrawals and a processional one-two win for Mercedes, the Hollywood star’s surprise appearance at the podium ceremony provided a rare moment of cheer.

But even Schwarzenegger’s dazzling smile, and banter with winner Lewis Hamilton, couldn’t mask the problems facing F1 at the start of the new season.

With only 15 cars making it to the grid for the opening race, the fewest since 1963, questions are being asked about the complex hybrid engine technology which is giving many teams a headache.

New outfit Manor didn’t make it out of the garage, and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) dropped out with mechanical problems on the way to the start.

Max Verstappen, who became the sport’s youngest driver aged 17 years and 166 days, also had a bitter-sweet day when the Renault power unit in his Toro Rosso failed on the 34th lap.

Engine-supplier Honda’s struggles on their reunion with McLaren were underlined when Jenson Button was delighted just to finish the race, even in last place.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo echoed the assessment of many when he called the race, which Hamilton led from start to finish, “boring”.

“For sure it’s not great for the people,” said Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel, commenting on the sparse field. 

“(Formula One) is a difficult challenge. It is complicated – maybe it got a bit too complicated.”

Red Bull, dominant from 2010-2013, said they may even consider pulling out of the sport. Team principal Christian Horner called for new rules to rein in Mercedes.

“I fear the interest will wane,” Horner told reporters. “I didn’t see much of Mercedes on the television and I can only imagine that it isn’t interesting watching a procession so the producer was looking for other battles going on in the race – except there weren’t that many cars to look at.

“The highlight for me was Arnie Schwarzenegger on the podium.”

Vettel was accused of switching off fans in droves during his march to four world titles with Red Bull, and another lop-sided season will not help Formula One’s appeal.

And when told about the complaints, the response from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was blunt.

“There is this wall in Jerusalem that you can stand in front of and complain. Maybe the guys should go there,” he said.

The problems look stark, but crisis is nothing new to a sport where drama behind the scenes often exceeds the spectacle on the track.

And like Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, it keeps coming back – starting with Malaysia in two weeks’ time. – AFP

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

Western Cape Judge Mushtak Parker faces second misconduct complaint

The Cape Bar Council says his conduct is ‘unbecoming the holding of judicial office’

‘My biggest fear was getting the virus and dying in...

South African Wuhan evacuee speaks about his nine-week ordeal

Border walls don’t stop viruses, but a blanket amnesty might

Why South Africa should consider amnesty for undocumented migrants in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories