On Deck: The increasingly predictable world of Formula One

On Deck: The increasingly predictable world of Formula One

Did you know that the 2015 Formula One season is set to kick off this weekend in Melbourne, Australia?

Did you also know that Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton is the defending world champion, unseating Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel last season after the latter won the previous four world titles?

On Deck: The increasingly predictable world of Formula One I ask this question because, apparently, a lot of fans of the sport have grown increasingly disenchanted with the lack of drama surrounding the world title picture. It’s a situation that has plagued Formula One for years, essentially boiling the question of who the next world champion is going to be down to who has the finest technology in the pits.

There have been seasons in recent memory that have provided semblances of drama—the 2012 season was arguably the last of them all—but for the most part, recent Formula One history shows a compelling lack of competition among rival manufacturers, turning past seasons into competitions between teammates. It happened last year with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and it happened far too frequently during Red Bull’s four-year reign in Formula One.

Granted, rules changes and the constant evolution of technology has largely contributed to the overall lack of competition in the sport. If one constructor found a way to improve its car that its rivals couldn’t or didn’t do, then that’s a great deal for the constructor. It’s not their fault that their competitors didn’t think of said technology in the first place. That’s what remaining fans of the sport would say and I get that.

But when was the last time they did anything like that to build up the drama and suspense in Formula One? Remember in 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen won his first and only world title in the most dramatic way possible? How about Lewis Hamilton avenging his 2007 choke job by pulling off a Raikkonen just one year later to win over Felipe Massa? That was spectacular stuff and you were at the edge of your seats the entire season.

The last few years? Well, not so much. This season? I’m not getting my hopes up.

Take a look at the current betting odds being offered a week before the season starts in Australia. Hamilton’s the favorite at 4/7 odds and the closest competitor—the only competitor—within spitting distance is his own teammate, Nico Rosberg at 9/4 odds.

Four-time champ Vettel is the next closest on the board and he’s all the way down to 14/1. He’s followed by former Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo at 18/1, Ferrari’s Raikkonen at 25/1, and Williams Martini’s Valtteri Bottas at 30/1.

Doesn’t inspire a lot of choices, does it? Wait, it gets even dicier when you look at the Constructor’s title picture. Mercedes is the clear favorite, and by clear favorite, I mean 1/8 favorite! You think Ferrari has a chance? You can take a stab at it at 14/1 odds.
Williams at 20/1 odds, Red Bull at 25/1 odds, and McLaren at 33/1 odds. These long shots may have a shot if Mercedes suffers through one technical failure after another, but the chances of that happening are pretty unlikely.

I can’t remember the last time I made a bet on Formula One. I think it was the year Brawn GP somehow came from out of nowhere to dominate the 2009 Formula One season. Now that was a fun year, not because of the one-sided nature of the season, but because a huge underdog ended up becoming the dominant side.

Is it wishful thinking to hope that Force India or Sauber injects some life into this season by turning the tables on everybody and speeding away with the driver’s and constructor’s title?
In so many words: Yes. Yes it is.