SO MUCH FOR
any drama in Formula One. Last week a bookmaker in Ireland, Paddy Power, declared it was going to pay out to anyone who bet on Michael Schumacher to win the 2004 F/1 title-even though 13 races remain in the season. The bookie is simply acknowledging what many F/1 observers have been thinking for weeks: Schumacher and his Ferrari team are so ruthlessly dominating that they might win all 18 races in 2004. On Sunday in Barcelona, Schumacher, who has won six world driving titles, took the checkered flag at the Spanish Grand Prix by 13.2 seconds to become the first F/1 driver since Nigel Mansell in 1992 to sweep the season's first five races.
Concerned that hegemony is making the sport a snooze, the International Automobile Federation announced several rules changes last week: simpler engines that would cost half as much to build; a single tire supplier, which would limit expensive testing; and a ban on electronic driver aids. The new rules, which start taking effect in 2006, might give teams such as Minardi, which has an annual budget of $35 million, a better chance to challenge teams such as Ferrari ($450 million). Meanwhile, bet on the German.