JUNE 15, 2023

Three F1 bosses play down TV ratings slump

Three Formula 1 bosses think Red Bull's utter dominance can be stopped.

Toto Wolff, Azerbaijan GP 2022
© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Three Formula 1 bosses think Red Bull's utter dominance can be stopped.

Amid the sport's generally soaring popularity, the TV ratings have taken a big hit recently as Max Verstappen cruises almost unchallenged to his third consecutive drivers' title.

"People need unpredictability," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told the American broadcaster CNBC this week.

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

"I think next year we can fight on an equal footing with Red Bull," Wolff continued. "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."

Wolff's counterpart at the small American team, Gunther Steiner, also thinks Red Bull's rivals managing to catch up is only a matter of time.

"I would say that for the rules to work you have to give them time," he told AS newspaper this week.

"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," Steiner added.

He also told Marca newspaper at an event to promote the Spanish translation of his book: "It's like last year - no one would have said that Aston Martin is going to jump to second place.

"There are always unknown things in F1, and also Red Bull cannot escape the budget limit. There are nine teams currently figuring out why they are going so fast," Steiner said.

Also not overly worried about the TV slump and Red Bull's dominance is Franz Tost, the departing long-time team boss at Red Bull-owned Alpha Tauri.

"I'm not worried," he 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."

However, Tost admits that the 2023 season is basically a write-off for Red Bull's rivals.

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