‘So boring to watch’ – ESPN host gives controversial take on Max ‘Vanderstoppen’ F1 dominance

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen holding his helmet after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

Eyebrows have been raised after ESPN’s Pat McAfee gave a damning verdict on the state of Formula 1 in the Max Verstappen, or ‘Vanderstoppen’ era, a series for which ESPN holds the United States broadcasting rights.

Formula 1 was looking to instigate a new era of closer and thrilling on-track action unlike anything seen before with the new 2022 regulations, though it has turned into the era of Red Bull and Verstappen.

Max ‘Vanderstoppen’ domination ‘so boring to watch’

Off the back of his maiden World Championship triumph in 2021, Verstappen has gone on to add the 2022 and 2023 titles to his collection, winning a remarkable 15 and 19 grands prix respectively in those two latest title-winning years.

And Verstappen has quickly snuffed out the hope that a challenger would finally emerge at the start of F1 2024, having led home a pair of Red Bull 1-2 finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The topic of Formula 1 and Verstappen came up when multi-time NASCAR champion Kyle Busch appeared on the ‘Pat McAfee show’ on ESPN, where he mispronounced Verstappen’s surname as ‘Vanderstoppen’.

ESPN may not be best pleased to have then heard McAfee go on a rant about F1 which would do little to convince their viewers to tune into the series, rights which they pay up to a reported $90 million per year for.

“19 of the last 20 races is Vanderstoppen,” McAfee began, which drew a smile and a “that sounds like a watch” joke in response from Busch.

McAfee continued: “He probably has one. So the Vanderstoppen watch and the Vanderstoppen dominance has just become so boring to watch. He’ll win the pole and then the races are like time trials.”

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Verstappen’s continued stranglehold on Formula 1 has brought the controversial subject of possible FIA intervention back up for debate, with the governing body and F1 itself distancing itself in recent times from the idea that they could get involved to level the playing field.

And Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has quipped that he will not “fall into the trap” that Red Bull team principal Christian Horner did in 2015 by calling on the FIA to intervene, back when Mercedes were the dominant force.

“I don’t want to fall into the trap of my fellow team principal from next door in 2014 or 15 who said we should change the regs because it [Mercedes] is too dominant,” Wolff told the media after the Saudi Arabian GP.

“I think they’ve done the best job of all the teams over the last two years, credit where credit is due. I mean they are literally disappearing into the distance as they want, and there’s nobody else close.

“But there is not a huge performance differential with everybody that follows depending on the track, is just they are in a different league and that is our sport.

“It is an honest sport and the best performance is being rewarded from car, machine and man.”

Red Bull has won a staggering 38 of the 44 grands prix held so far in Formula 1’s ground effect era.

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