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

Keep the powerful accountable

Subscribe for R30/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Seismic surveys on West Coast pose threat to small-scale fishers’...

They are worried about the effect of blasting on the snoek fishery, which is the basis of their income

UK PM Johnson fights back after defection

Wednesday's defection of Conservative Christian Wakeford to Labour served as a reminder of the high stakes at play, with the opposition party surging in opinion polls.

ConCourt clarifies act for asylum seekers

The apex court has reversed amendments to the act that made it difficult for refugees to apply for asylum while making it easy for Home Affairs officials to unjustly detain and deport them.

After the results, what’s next for matriculants?

Late applicants will have a tough time getting into a university of their choice.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…