In a way, the BBC’s decision to end its F1 coverage three years early, on money-saving grounds, is immaculately timed, however regrettable it feels.
For one thing, today’s races are really only contests between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and in identical cars at that. And even these battles have become tainted: for a third of them Hamilton hasn’t even needed to put his back into it.
For another, the “British interest” that has reliably attracted local audiences is in rapid retreat. Those with longish memories will never forget the mass appeal and huge audiences generated by “our Nige”, but there’s nothing like that now.
Despite his third championship, Lewis Hamilton’s following is in decline. For all the he’s-finding-himself excuses used to account for his increasingly weird dalliances with dogs, haircuts, earrings, tattoos, funny hats and woeful rap music, it is clear he has lost the interest of the public; the Beeb’s own Sports Personality voting made that clear.
Jenson Button still does a great job (and ironically, might still become a programme-saving element of the new BBC Top Gear), but listening to him putting a brave face on finishing 12th - again - has become a sad part of Sunday afternoon, not entertainment or enjoyment.