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Formula 1 is wonderful for those of us invested in it: a compelling concoction of high-speed complexity and adrenaline-filled competition. We ‘insiders’ hang on every twist and turn. But step outside the echo chamber for a second and all is not well.

Fernando Alonso is right - F1 is too predictable. Far too often, to the untrained eye and mind, it is simply boring to watch. Every race cannot be a classic, and it’s tricky to produce consistently great racing without resorting to artifice, but sport sold as spectacle cannot simply hope for the best.

Singapore and Russia were two perfect cases in point. Japan, saved by Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo starting out of position, was only marginally better. Few other major sporting events can be over so quickly yet drag on for so long…

Momentum is key. In most major sports – football, tennis and boxing, to name but three – one party won’t hold continuous advantage. No football team enjoys 100 per cent possession; tennis players must share responsibility to serve; boxers only fight for three minutes at a time before the bell tolls.

Momentum always travels in two directions, or is at least periodically arrested, even if one side wins comfortably overall. In F1, momentum too often travels in only one direction: the quickest driver, in the quickest car, gains a head start in qualifying and remains unchallenged – unless some random occurrence intervenes. 

It will require fundamental change to make F1 more appealing. I would suggest binning Friday practice altogether; turning qualifying into a bespoke event (with championship points awarded); and starting each grand prix in reverse championship order (because reversed grids make racing unpredictable). ‘Purists’ will scream blue murder, but people must be persuaded to care in this outrageously competitive media age.

As Alonso regularly points out, the main source of intrigue lies in off-track “polemics”. Such stories form the centrepiece of this month’s magazine, as we analyse the circumstances behind Esteban Ocon’s difficulty in securing a 2019 race seat, and bring you extracts from a new tell-all book about Kimi Räikkönen – one of F1’s most enigmatic characters.

That Räikkönen will continue in F1 beyond his 40th birthday, despite losing his Ferrari seat, suggests he still loves racing enough to make a backwards step. It’s little wonder Kimi can’t shake the bug – he gets to feel the rush of F1 like few can.

And therein lies the rub. F1, and all of us invested in it, must find new ways to engender enthusiasm for a world few people can fully appreciate. It’s time for a sport whose mission statement is to ‘unleash the greatest racing spectacle on the planet’ (at eye-watering cost) to get on with the unleashing.

Ben Anderson
Editor

Inside the issue

This month's features include

The unseen Kimi Räikkönen
Exclusive extracts from Kimi’s authorised biography show a different side to the reticent Finn

Kimi: the Sauber move
Why the 2007 world champion has taken a step down the grid

When your face doesn't fit...
Out of a drive for next year, what’s gone wrong for Esteban Ocon?

Into the lion's den
Lando Norris on pressure and making it to F1

Eye on the champion
A photographic essay behind the scenes at Mercedes, with ace snapper Paul Ripke

You ask the questions: Marcus Ericsson
The Sauber driver answers questions from our readers

Stunt driver
Christian Horner tries to get an Aston Martin onto two wheels

History of McLaren
The first part of our new series kicks off with Bruce McLaren and the founding of the team

Plus

Racer’s edge
Peter Windsor on Mario Andretti’s debut pole

Under the hood
Pat Symonds on the value of aerodynamics

Straight talk
James Allen: motorsport’s leaders grapple with existential questions

Profile
Chloe Targett-Adams, global director of promoters & business relations at Formula 1

Grand prix greats
Nigel Roebuck’s memories of Patrick Depailler

Now that was a car 
The car that returned McLaren to the winners’ circle, the controversial MP4-12

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