Team bosses divided as Max Verstappen takes a toll on TV ratings

While Red Bull has taken a strong lead in the 2023 season, its rivals believe there is still time to catch the title-holders.

As Max Verstappen continues his seemingly unstoppable march towards his third consecutive drivers’ title, Formula 1 is witnessing a significant decline in TV ratings. 

While the sport’s popularity remains high, the lack of unpredictability due to Red Bull’s dominance is taking a toll on viewership. 

In response, team bosses from Mercedes, Alpha Tauri, and Haas have emphasised the need for competitive balance and patience.

Toto Wolff, the team principal of Mercedes, acknowledged the importance of unpredictability in keeping the sport exciting for fans. He believes that the show and the sport are interconnected, but also underscores the significance of adhering to the rules and recognising the deserving winners. 

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

Despite Red Bull’s current supremacy, Wolff remains optimistic, stating that Mercedes will strive for equal footing next year by rectifying technical missteps and leveraging the principles of physics.

“People need unpredictability,” Wolff told CNBC. 

“The show and the sport are inextricably linked. But there are rules, and whoever wins by those rules deserves to win.

“I think next year we can fight on an equal footing with Red Bull.

Article continues below

“In recent years we have made a few missteps on the technical side, but this is physics, not mysticism – and we will be back soon.”

Guenther Steiner, Wolff’s counterpart at Haas, echoed the Mercedes chief’s sentiment, emphasizing the need to give the rules time to work. 

Steiner praised Red Bull’s impressive work but suggests that with more time, the entire grid could close the gap and create a thrilling competition. 

He highlighted the tight qualifying session in Monaco, where 15 cars were within a one-second margin, as an example of what the future may hold. 

Steiner also pointed out that Red Bull is not exempt from the budget limit and believes that the other teams are actively analysing their performance to catch up.

“I would say that for the rules to work you have to give them time,” Steiner told AS newspaper.

“Red Bull’s work is impressive, but in Monaco there were 15 cars in one second in qualifying. With more time, I think almost the entire grid will look like that.

“If there was no Red Bull, the fight would already be fantastic,” he added.

Franz Tost, the departing team boss at Red Bull-owned Alpha Tauri, remains unperturbed by the TV ratings slump and Red Bull’s dominance. 

He asserted that their races are consistently sold out at almost every track, emphasising the importance of national heroes to drive viewership. 

While Tost concedes that the 2023 season appears to be a write-off in terms of competing with Red Bull’s performance, he remains hopeful for future challenges.

“I’m not worried,” Tost told Osterreich newspaper. 

“No matter where we go, we are sold out at almost all the racetracks.

“The fact that the ratings are falling in Germany and Austria is mainly due to the lack of national heroes.

“In terms of performance, yes,” he said when asked if Red Bull can deliver an unprecedented clean-sweep of victories.”

READ: Belgian GP organisers meet with F1 CEO

Despite the concerns surrounding TV ratings and Red Bull’s dominance, the Formula 1 community remains steadfast in its belief that the sport will regain its competitive balance. 

Teams are optimistic about their ability to catch up and create thrilling battles on the track. 

As the season progresses, fans eagerly anticipate the emergence of new rivalries and unexpected outcomes that define the essence of Formula 1.