Sebastian Vettel suggested in his blog this week that F1 was losing its way and urgent action to prevent its popularity slide should be taken. The Ferrari driver identifies one of the key problems currently being that fans are bored by Mercedes domination. The swift response to the German’s claims – for those other than Vettel ‘lovers’ – has been simple and obvious, and for the simple reason that history demonstrates this state of affairs is normative in Formula One.
Now Vettel prides himself on being a scholar of F1 history, however he apparently has neglected to do some simple comparisons to the last 25 or so years of the sport. Since 1988 Formula One has seen extended periods of domination by a team.
88-91 McLaren – 4 years
91-94 Williams – 3 years
95 Benetton – 1 year
96-97 Williams – 2 years
98 McLaren – 1 year
00-04 Ferrari – 6 years
05-06 Renault – 2 years
07-08 Ferrari – 2 years
09 Brawn – 1 year
10-13 Red Bull – 4 years
14-15 Mercedes – 2 years
If we remove the one-year wonders, the average period of dominance for a team is 3.125 seasons. Mercedes have currently one, for two years in a row.
During the McLaren 1988-91 four years of dominance, Ayrton Senna won 3 (non-consecutive) of those four drivers’ titles; other than when Schumacher was at Ferrari, no other driver has achieved this number of titles with the same team.
So were Mercedes to win the F1 constructors’ title again in 2016 and Lewis again become world champion, this has been the story in 15 of the past 25 years. Same team, same driver winning year after year.
So who is being highly critical of Mercedes? Clearly Sebastian would like to be back at the top of the tree, yet the consistent complaints about Mercedes dominance are not emanating from Ferrari, Williams or McLaren. Each of whom know what it’s like to dominate the sport.
Whenever we read anything, it’s always worth asking who is behind the story and whether they could possibly have an agenda which would skew the opinions expressed therein. Well, a quick glance back through the last six months’ headlines reveals the key protagonists continually busting Mercedes’ balls for winning are none other than Bernie Ecclestone, Christian Horner et al. and Sebastian Vettel.