Comment: As Sebastien Vettel cruises to a fourth World Championship, the lack of a contest spells the death of Formula One

It is not sport. It is time-trialling and it won't do

This quote from Lewis Hamilton should make Formula One scream. "I was really, really happy that at the end, I could see Fernando [Alonso] was catching, so I was just looking after the tyres to wait until he started to push. When he did, I just reacted a bit and when he was going to try and bring out an extra 10th [of a second] I was going to bring out two 10ths."

Hamilton was speaking after the US Grand Prix in Texas last week and might have been inadvertently articulating the death of Formula One. In the United States, sport is predicated on entertainment. There was precious little of that watching Sebastian Vettel take an uncontested eighth successive victory.

F1 is selling the idea of high-octane drama, wheel-to-wheel derring-do, death-defying skill, not an unaccompanied toodle along empty roads on a Sunday afternoon, which was essentially the lot of Vettel in Austin. In the search for anything remotely interesting, the cameras were compelled to focus on meaningless midfield arm wrestling.

Hamilton's reflections concerned the fight for fourth place, for goodness sake. What on earth is happening when two former world champions, two of the sport's genuine ticket sellers in marques you might have heard of called Mercedes and Ferrari, are involved in some kind of tyre-protection strategy on race day? Ok, there is some skill in the husbandry of rubber, but that does not translate to good TV nor put bums on seats in the numbers required to keep this show on the road.

I'm a fan. I spent a good chunk of my professional life in the Formula One paddock. I acknowledge the brilliance of the brains that bring these magnificent prototypes to the track. The skill and courage of the drivers is beyond question. You try covering 3.5 miles, lap after lap, posting times within a 10th of a second. But none of this skill is conveyed to the viewer. There is no sense beyond the first corner that anything is being contested.

Hamilton has a chance of securing third place in the drivers' championship on Sunday. He's not interested in that. His season ended with blown tyres at Silverstone that took him out of a race he was leading and ultimately out of title contention. For the latter half of the season there has been only one man shooting for victory. That, ladies and gentleman, is not sport. It is time-trialling and it won't do.

Five years ago Hamilton gave us one of the most riveting finales in recent memory. Needing to finish fifth to take the title, his hopes were seemingly knocked sideways by rain at the final race in Brazil.

Championship rival Felipe Massa was three corners into a lap of honour believing the title was his after taking the chequered flag. Hamilton killed that dream and fulfilled his own by sweeping past the fading Toyota of Timo Glock almost within sight of the line. The season went down not only to the last lap but the penultimate corner.

In that mad climax F1 showed why, when it gets it right, there is little to beat it for raising the pulse rate. When it gets it wrong, is there anything more soporific? There is nothing glamorous about falling asleep in front of the telly.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable