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F1: Major talking points ahead of the Australian Grand Prix

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The Australian Grand Prix Photo BBC
The Australian Grand Prix. Photo/ BBC
  • Formula One returns this weekend with the Australian Grand Prix, we look at the big talking points ahead of the weekend action.

Formula One returns this weekend with the Australian Grand Prix, we look at the big talking points ahead of the weekend action.

Tension at Red Bull

christian horner Photo Sky News

Christian Horner. Photo/ Sky News

Red Bull’s internal conflicts may have subsided somewhat, but there are still unanswered questions.

The future of Verstappen has been a major topic of discussion between Saudi Arabia and this race, and from what knows, the Dutchman has a contract condition that might lead to more strain.

The clause, which permits Verstappen to quit if Helmut Marko’s term ends, was purportedly added to his contract without Christian Horner or other senior members of the parent company’s knowledge. Marko’s position as a director of Red Bull Racing made this possible.

This is undoubtedly a topic that will be discussed because Verstappen has a lot of media commitments before lights out. It will be up to him to once again block it out once the visor comes off.

Will history be kind to Hamilton?

Lewis Hamilton has a good track record at the Australian GP Photo Overdrive scaled

Lewis Hamilton has a good track record at the Australian GP. Photo/ Overdrive

Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time World Champion, will be relieved to learn that the next location is one he has performed well at in the past because his 2024 has gotten off to a slow start. His P7 and P9 places him ninth in the Drivers’ standings.

Hamilton has won the pole position eight times at the Melbourne circuit; the Hungaroring is the only team that can claim a higher total. Given Red Bull’s domination throughout the race, it appears that if they are to lose, it will probably be in qualifying.

Hamilton has not yet finished higher than seventh in the W15, but with a break in between races, he will be optimistic that the Brackley team has worked out at least some of the issues.

Ricciardo and Piastri home race

Ricciardo and Piastri Photo Sportskeeda

Ricciardo and Piastri. Photo/Sportskeeda

Only two Formula One drivers are competing in their home race this weekend—Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri—but they both have quite different emotions about the competition.

Melbourne-born Piastri comes home in 2023, having had a successful year and making Australia proud of one of its own.

Even though Piastri was just three races into his Formula One career the previous year and was driving a McLaren that was far from the front of the field, he is back on the grid as a reliable driver who is undoubtedly well-liked by his local supporters.

Another well-liked character is Daniel Ricciardo, although he is now again debating his own future.

After receiving a lot of attention leading up to 2024, Ricciardo has had a difficult time thus far. His fellow countryman Alan Jones has been critical of him after he failed to win points in the first two races.

Melbourne has never been one of Ricciardo’s best circuits, but he would want to start his season well down under.

Horner and the FIA on a collision course?

The disclosure that Christian Horner‘s accuser has filed a formal complaint with the FIA after Red Bull rejected it is another item on the agenda.

The unidentified accuser contacted the sport’s governing body twice about the Red Bull team principal: on February 2 and again on March 6, as the BBC first reported. In the meanwhile, Red Bull has suspended her.

“At the FIA, inquiries and complaints are received and managed by the Compliance Officer, and the Ethics Committee where appropriate,” the FIA stated in response. Both organizations function independently and maintain absolute confidentiality all along the way.

Since FIA officials don’t often hold news conferences on a grand prix weekend, Horner will likely be questioned once again. This is a topic that never really goes away.

Australian GP times to affect viewership

f1 cost cap regulations

Formula one cars. Photo/GoodWood

The declining viewing statistics will have undoubtedly drawn the attention of F1 executives in their London office to a concerning trend.

ESPN in the US reported 920,000 views for the Saudi Arabian race; nonetheless, that was a decrease of more than half a million from the 1.52 million viewers in 2023.

Yet is that an uncommon piece of information. As a reflection of a global decline, Sky F1’s numbers fell by 6% in 2023 compared to 2022.

For obvious reasons, fewer casual fans will watch the Australian Grand Prix if Verstappen maintains his dominant championship. If this trend continues, the event may rank among the least viewed in recent memory.

The scheduling of the race always presents a challenge for the TV companies, which is one reason why that can occur. Grand Prix watchers on the US East Coast will have to stay up until midnight to see the race, which starts at 4AM UK time.

The start time of 9 PM, which some may consider a prime TV window, is only available on the West Coast, but there will be plenty of competition on a Saturday night, including the continuing March Madness.

F1 is hoping Australia can break the trend of lower viewership statistics in both races thus far, but all the signs point to a no.

I am an ardent sports enthusiast interested in writing about football, motorsport and athletics.

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