Eras of F1 Dominance

Formula 1 is entering a new era of Mercedes dominance. Four races into the 2014 F1 season and Mercedes have won all four races, with a Mercedes 1-2 in the last three.

Predictions of a Mercedes dominated season and a Mercedes driver as world champion are becoming a reality with every race.

This has dented the Red Bull hegemony but will it get boring?

By 2011, teams and fans alike were getting bored with Vettel. Back to back races being won from pole from the young German, made the sport very predictable.

In Valencia 2011, he ran the race virtually unchallenged. With Lewis Hamilton commenting at the time, “it’s finished really…in the sense of the championship, it’s almost over already”. Predicting the race winner was easy as his championship win that year, taking it five races early at Suzuka.

Vettel and Red Bull’s dominance bears striking similarities to the historic record breaking victories at Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. His reign spanned from 2000-2004 and arguably they were more easily engineered wins than that of Vettel’s.

Sebastian Vettel faced more rigorous regulations with regards to fuel and tyres.

Custom made tyres are a thing of the past. With tyre management becoming one of the key tests to any driver looking to become world champion. An end to refuelling meansdrivers in the fastest car don’t have the advantage of cruising to the front without needing to overtake.

Unlike Schumacher, Vettel faced a team mate that put his status of “number one” driver to the test.

Having a “number one” in a team like Mercedes, with two competitive drivers, capable of winning the championship is difficult to manage.

Mercedes were praised for allowing their drivers to fight at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Allowing for some sensational racing, not seen in a long time. This was not the case in both Red Bull and Ferrari, where team orders were used more frequently to ensure victory (usually of their favoured driver) and safe return of both cars. But this doesn’t mean that team orders won’t be used by Mercedes in future races to ensure both cars across the line, seen in Malaysia 2013.

Ultimately, this inter-team rivalry will be the defining factor for this Mercedes dominated era. The Rosberg and Hamilton team-mate rivalry has been likened to that of Prost and Senna at McLaren. This element making it ultimately different from the Vettel and Schumacher era. Bahrain may have been a Mercedes dominated race, but it was an entertaining dominance, with pure racing because of this element.

It may seem pre-mature to assume Mercedes will dominate the season, but Mercedes comfortably lead the Constructor’s Championship with a nearly 100point lead. Solid top point’s finishes from both Mercedes boys means they dominate the driver’s standings.

As the season progresses, the question will be, who Mercedes will ultimately choose to lead the team. This undoubtedly will be the cause of unprecedented friction in the Mercedes garage. But for the fans, an interesting turn of events and will keep the racing and title fight alive.


Dedication or Obsession?

With only about 20 races on the calender per season, every race is crucial. Not only for the teams and drivers, but fans.

Fans of F1 are perhaps one of the most dedicated I have seen of most sports. Whether it be waking up at 5am for qualifying, staying tuned for free practice (even though it has no bearing on race results really) and better yet, not even switching off when qualifying/race has been delayed for several hours (e.g. Korea 2010, Canada 2011). It’s a sport that requires dedication on all fronts.

I love that when I get on my Twitter to tweet about the injustices of the steward’s decision or post a pretentious quote on racing, my F1 community is there doing the same thing. Race after race, they’re there, 6am on a Sunday is not usually peak tweeting time, but for fans of F1, it is.

For me, F1 has become my life. From lights out at Spa in 2010, I have been hooked since. I make plans around it, I date the beginning of the season in my diary. A little obsessive I know. But when you want it to be a career choice, it becomes your life. But there are thousands of others who want the same; walking down the pitlane, getting an interview from a Lewis Hamilton fresh from getting his pole, another one from a pissed of Vettel, standing in the Ferrari garage. A dream (sounds corny, YES) shared by thousands of fans. Does this make me a dedicated fan or just an obsessed one?

Some tell me, they love how passionate I am about the sport, and that this passion will get me far. But at the same time, the intensity of my passion can come across a little obsessed, you only have to look at my Twitter to see how much I dedicate my time to it. I laugh at girls who constantly tweet about their obsession with One Direction but how am I any different? But I’m not going to stop just because of this. As I said, it’s a sport of dedication and dedicated I shall remain.