F1 branded a ‘joke’ and dictated by ‘politics’, blasts IndyCar legend

Jamie Woodhouse
Start of the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023. Results

Start of the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

IndyCar stalwart Will Power branded the competition in F1 a “joke” and feels sorry for the drivers suffering through that and the “politics”.

Formula 1 is regarded as the pinnacle of motorsport as the top drivers and personnel go to battle in the effort to field the best challenger and driver combinations to secure title glory.

Naturally though, this has led to lengthy periods of one-team domination in Formula 1, with Red Bull and Mercedes having traded that top spot since 2010.

Red Bull would win four Drivers’ and Constructors’ title doubles from 2010-13, before Mercedes won eight Constructors’ and seven Drivers’ crowns from 2014-21, with 2021 being a rare season where these teams were effectively on a par as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton delivered an all-time great title battle.

Now we are back to the days of Red Bull being on top, the Austrian outfit having sealed a fresh title double in 2022 and seemingly are well on the way to another, winning all seven races so far in F1 2023, Verstappen claiming four of those as he marches towards his third title in a row.

IndyCar meanwhile, America’s premier open-wheel racing series, is what is known as a ‘spec series’ where drivers compete in the same chassis, in theory therefore creating a level playing field.

To that point then, Power said Formula 1 would be “much better” if all the drivers had a car like that dominant Red Bull RB19. But alas, that is not the case.

“It’s so tough [in IndyCar], an amazing field, the toughest field in the world, and people need to know it, especially compared to Formula One,” Power told NBC Sports.

“Formula One’s a joke as far as competition, but not as far as drivers. They have amazing drivers. And I feel sorry for them that they don’t get to experience the satisfaction we do with our racing because that is the top level of open-wheel motorsport.

“I think Formula One would be so much better if they had a formula like IndyCar. I love the technology and the manufacturer side of it. I think that’s awesome. But from a spectator watching, man, how cool would it be if everyone had a Red Bull?

“You simply know Max is going to win every race if something doesn’t go wrong. Imagine being a guy coming out as a rookie, and you probably could win a race. It would be really cool to see. But you know that would never happen with the politics over there.”

But, if everyone did have a challenger at the level which Verstappen does, then Power believes the outcome of races would be nowhere near as predictable as he perceives it to be.

To that point, he name-dropped the likes of seven-time World Champion Hamilton, two-time champ Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris, regarded as a champion in waiting with the right machinery, as drivers who must all be “frustrated” with the situation.

“I think this [IndyCar] should always be about the team and driver getting the most out of a piece of equipment that everyone has a chance to do so,” he said, “that’s the ultimate driver series.

“Who wants to win a championship when you’re just given the best car? It’s just ridiculous.

“There’s got to be a bunch of those guys that must just be frustrated. Think about Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Lando Norris, Alonso. Those are some great drivers that don’t get a chance to even win. They’re just extracting the most out of the piece of equipment they have.

“All I can say is if everyone had a Red Bull car, there’s no way that Max would win every race. There are so many guys who would be winning races. It’d just be similar to [IndyCar] and different every week, which it should be that way for the top level of the sport.”

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A fantasy Formula 1 which would be fun to watch

In reality, a spec-series Formula 1 is probably never going to happen. Considering the “politics” which Power mentioned, the teams would simply have too much to lose.

Half-baked efforts have been made by the series to bunch the pack up, a budget cap, more restrictive, overtaking-focused regulations and a sliding scale on permitted wind tunnel-testing time all measures designed to create this tighter grid without just going all in on giving them the same cars to compete in.

The battle to land one of the 20 Formula 1 seats and be part of the World Championship is fierce, and it would be fascinating to see how these drivers got on if, like in their junior days, the best were then pooled together in F1 with that equal machinery.

Surely the likes of Hamilton, Alonso, Norris, Russell and more would be battling it out with Verstappen and giving us true unpredictability over who would win from one round to the next.

But alas, this stuff of dreams will likely remain exactly that.