The Blog

The (F1) World Will Not Accept Domination

My amended title quote by Mikhail Gorbachev sums up F1 in 2014, now we are five races into the season and the sport is being dominated by one man and one team. Not Sebastien Vettel and Red Bull Racing, but Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes...

My amended title quote by Mikhail Gorbachev sums up F1 in 2014, now we are five races into the season and the sport is being dominated by one man and one team. Not Sebastien Vettel and Red Bull Racing, but Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. For the first time in the 22 years I have avidly watched Formula One the driver I passionately support is dominating the victory laurels. I have watched the Schumacher years and recently the Vettel years and tried to keep upbeat about everything else that is going on in races. I have wondered what it feels like when your favourite driver is consistently winning. The answer: I love it. But after the recent domination of Vettel's run of four championship titles I completely get why some (maybe a lot) people will just see this as another year and another driver in the best car.

But 2014 is different.

Winners in motorsport are usually drivers who have the best technical package, and looking back on past winners of Formula One, the person who has lifted the Drivers Championship has often also been in the Constructor's Championship winning team. Over the past 20 years, only three drivers have lifted the title when a different team have won the Constructors title:

1994 - Michael Schumacher (Benetton) / Williams

1999 - Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) / Ferrari

2008 - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) / Ferrari

Sebastien Vettel is not a bad driver. But he has unquestionably had the best car at his hands for the past four seasons. He has also been the golden boy of the Red Bull development programme - much like Lewis Hamilton was at McLaren having nurtured him from an early age. Vettel's teammate last year and for five years previous was Mark Webber - Mark was never going to be allowed to compete really with Vettel. On the podium at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2013 Mark's vocal opinion of Vettel's protection within the team was made very public.

Mark Webber on podium at Malaysian GP 2013

So once the Red Bull car was in a position of being so far ahead of the rest of the field Vettel has had a very comfortable margin, protection within the team and the result is him becoming one of the most successful drivers in the history of the sport.

So why is 2014 any different?

Mercedes have won the first five races with Nico Rosberg (Australian GP) and Lewis Hamilton (Malaysian GP, Bahrain GP, Chinese GP and Spanish GP). We have domination from Mercedes and an impressive run of form from Hamilton. However, the Bahrain GP explains why F1 this year is different. Mercedes have given one simple instruction (as does every team) to their drivers: don't take each other out. Additional to that however is they are allowing both their drivers to battle it out for the title. Whilst Hamilton is three up on Rosberg, there have been tiny differences between them - mainly from qualifying, but also some sterling defensive driving from Hamilton when Rosberg has been clearly faster. This battle will continue through the season and I hope it does.

When you look back on the history of F1 and fans reminisce over the best seasons, people often talk about 1988. 15 out of 16 races won by McLaren-Honda with Alain Prost winning seven and Ayrton Senna winning eight races and taking the title. My favourite season in the time I watched F1 was 1996 when Damon Hill won the title - his closest rival was Jacques Villeneuve, who was Hill's teammate. When people argue that a driver only wins the title because he is in the best car - who better to have as a rival and eventual championship runner up, than your teammate?

This weekend is the crown-jewel event on the calendar once again, the Monaco Grand Prix - the race that started in 1929 and is the same spectacle back then as it is today. It could be a pivotal race in the championship as if either Hamilton or Rosberg make an error in the race it could have repercussions in the championship - it has taken Hamilton four race wins to claw back a 25-point deficit to Rosberg. It will probably be a procession though but is still a marvel to watch 200mph cars twist their way around a circuit that would never be allowed to be even proposed in today's world.

On a side note...I've overheard over the past week that very casual viewers of F1 will watch the Monaco GP. Please do...but don't comment on how processional or boring it is - I recommend you watch the Canadian GP in two weeks time instead - that will be a far better race...