Formula One

F1 finally gives us the excitement we deserve

13 May 2018 - 00:00 By AFP

An overdose of hype is an integral part of almost any sporting occasion today. Over the last few seasons of F1 we've regularly been promised titanic tussles and nail-biters. The truth is we have rarely been given the excitement we've deserved - and the lack of overtaking and the predictability of it all placed the sport into a prolonged identity crisis.
In 2018, though, F1 fans have had two classics and one excellent race from four, with three different drivers winning for different teams. Mercedes' dominance of the turbo hybrid era seems over, with Ferrari having the outright quickest car in the past three rounds.
Since Melbourne there has been genuine uncertainty over who will win each Sunday. Yes, the safety car has played a big part in deciding the races, but it has amplified the excitement, not created it.The intrigue is not just at the front of the grid, but further down it, too, with the midfield as tightly packed as ever. Two of the stand-out performances have been by young Pierre Gasly taking fourth in Bahrain and rookie Charles Leclerc's deserved sixth here in Baku, earning him F1's Driver of the Day.
Fernando Alonso is, for now, driving the wheels off an under-performing McLaren. Red Bull's, and in particular, Max Verstappen's incident-hit season - two double retirements in three - add spice to the season. Eighteen of the 20 drivers and every team is on the scoreboard and that is noteworthy. Last season Sauber did not score a point at all.Not all weekends will be like China and Azerbaijan, but it has been a fair few years since we have seen a season with as much potential as 2018. Should this continue, it might force those in charge of the sport to reconsider the more extreme end of regulation changes for 2021.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton is hoping he can rely on pure performance and not good fortune as Formula One returns to Europe today. But Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is warning the champions they face an intensified scrap in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton, the 33-year-old four-time world champion, secured an unlikely and unexpected four-point lead in the drivers' title race when he won last month's Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a series of accidents and incidents removed his rivals from the fray.

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