I had a bit of a road trip from Monday through Tuesday evening. A quick drive from St. Louis to Atlanta and back in 24 hours. I like driving and people ask why I didn’t fly but to be honest, I’d spend 6 hours in airports and rental car shuttles versus just driving it for 8 hours and enjoying the beautiful Tennessee River Valley, Nashville, Chattanooga, and the wonderful foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. A Glorious part of the country.
As I stopped for petrol, periodically, I would check the responses to my editorial piece about Sebastian Vettel’s comment regarding the four one, two finishes so far this season. There were several folks who agreed with my comments and many who didn’t. The perfectly normal rebuttals about Ferrari needing do better or that Vettel wasn’t complaining when he won four title on the trot were littering the comments section and TPF timeline via social media.
I completely understand that and as an initial reaction, I expected that. As I drove through Tennessee and into Kentucky, I told myself that when I got home, I would try to actually do a little legwork to show all of you what I was babbling about with regards to this Mercedes domination and the hybrid era.
To my delight, when I finally got home, I checked my email and was surprise to find a nice message from our TPF reader/listener, Matthew Douthat, who had taken it upon himself to do some number crunching to also shed light on my thoughts in the editorial piece.
I emailed Matthew back and told him the story about how I was going to do that when I got home because I was seeing a lot of false relevancy comments about Ferrari or Red Bull to Mercedes of today. There is very little equivalency and F1 would probably prefer you not think about these numbers.
With that in mind, I am going to post Matt’s comments and number crunching and then I am going to add a few of my own.
Here are Matthew’s comments:
1999 — 2004 Six Ferrari Constructors’ Championships
• 101 Races
• 63 Ferrari wins
• 62.4% win rate
• 13 different winning drivers (including Jarno Trulli’s moving roadblock in Monte Carlo. Ferrari had four different drivers over this period, with three of them winners. Other winners: MH, RS, FA, HHF, JPM, JT, DC, JH, KR, GF)
• 6 different winning cars
• The cars sounded F****** awesome
2010 — 2013 Four Red Bull Racing Constructors’ Championships
• 77 Races
• 41 RBR wins
• 53.2% win rate
• 8 different winning drivers (Pastor Maldonado included. RBR had two different drivers, both winners. Other winners: FA, JB, LH, NR, KR, PM)
• 6 different winning cars (Williams and Lotus included)
• Still sounded pretty awesome
2014 — 2019 Five Mercedes Constructor’s Championships (plus one due by Dec. 1, likely to arrive early)
• 104 Races
• 78 Merc. wins
• 75% win rate
• 7 different winning drivers (Mercedes has had three different winning drivers over this period, so the remaining wins are split by SV, KR, DR, & MV)
• 3 different winning cars
• Why did I bring these earplugs to the race?
What you can see by Matt’s numbers is that the strike rate is very high with the current hybrid era Mercedes. As Matthew says, “presuming I did my arithmetic right”, it would suggest a level of dominance unmatched in recent F1 dominations.
I’ve seen some calculations that pick time periods that stop short of including the recent 2016 through 2019 data and this impacts the percentages. I’ve read reports based on seasons which can seem as if Ferrari and Red Bull enjoyed a similar strike rate but that doesn’t tell the complete story.
When you go to the race results from 2014 through 2018, you see the finishing times and the gaps to the nearest rival (non-Mercedes). I’ve not made a spreadsheet and calculated the time gap averages but it would be an interesting stat. What is clear is the Constructor’s championship point deltas and while that tells a clear story, it doesn’t capture the actual engine performance advantage and that’s something that cannot be easily determined.
What becomes very clear for me is that the Ferrari domination and Red Bull domination was perfectly in keeping with past decades of F1 dominance by McLaren, Williams etc. The Mercedes domination is also in keeping with the history of the sport.
However, this is a level unseen before facilitated by a hybrid engine regulation set heavily guided by Mercedes and with a lack of regulation changes with regards to the current hybrid engine design, this performance advantage is continuing to dominate the series and increase their strike rate. The interesting point will be the 2020 engine regulation set and if the engine doesn’t change, it could continue for some time.
There is a chance that the chassis regulations could change dramatically enough to throw Mercedes a curve but as good as that team is, I don’t they’ll get caught out.
What information or statistics do you feel are important when considering the current Mercedes form and 5 titles on the trot? Is there something that you feel is compelling either way?
Fantastic article! The problem is the tech regs. And look, F1 knows this, but they can’t change because the fans still have this fantasy of “road relevancy” and “new technology for the future”. Until the F1 fan base and stake holders can say to hell with “developing technology”, F1 will be dominated by certain teams. Maybe F1 would be better with tech regs so simple they don’t need companies like Mercedes to compete in it. I’d be happy to see privateer teams running with V8 engines made by Gibson, Mecchachrome, and Cosworth…..
A agree…great article…and I also agree that this domination is both unprecidented and unhealthy. On the “disagree’ front, I don’t think the average F1 fan cares one bit about “road relevancy” or “tech for the future”. It’s the manufacturer execs and boards that demand that sort of thing to provide cover for the massive investment required.
Absolutely agree with your ‘rant’ on the last episode of the podcast. Thanks for the fact figures, which, honestly, don’t make me feel happy about the fact that anything will change soon this season. Maybe a glitch in the matrix in Monaco, or a rain race would help, but with global warming nowadays, that’s even very unique to have. I would like to add one variable, which aides to this mercedes dominant era, which is the lack of in season testing. With this ‘cost saving’ rule, teams, and some fans, know that if you have a crap car at the… Read more »
If I had opted for the monthly F1 TV Pro and this continues thru May I would definitely cancel. I’m stuck with my annual subscription. Definitely going monthly next year.
Now in the mode of looking at the spoilers to decide if the next race is worth bothering to watch. Bad omen for F1.
Good research, can’t really argue with the evidence. Would be interested to know though of the races Ferrari won, how many didn’t they win due to a mechanical issue. Likewise how many have Mercedes lost due to mechanicals. See how that balances the statistics, I suspect Mercedes domination will still come out higher but be interested to know.
Even with Mercedes dominance, I still enjoy F1 more than other series. The front if the field may be set after the first lap, but there is real racing elsewhere in the field. Ther is nothing like watching Verstrappen work his way through the field.
At least the cars are not identically bodied spec cars like other major race series, both open wheeled and “stock” cars.
I am not saying I disagree but if you look at the pattern over the years you have to factor in reliability. As reliability has improved as years have gone on, dominant cars have a greater effect. They may (I’ve not checked the numbers) be just as dominant as the past but also just that much more reliable so have a greater hit rate. Two facts I agree with are that Mercedes are dominant and Ferrari are making mistakes they can’t, if they want to be competitive. Don’t just blame the engine though. F1 is a complex sport and if… Read more »
Good analysis, but I would be more curious about the different drivers winning. Vettel completely dominated Webber in the RBR domination and likewise Schumacher over his team mates. I feel, and could be wrong here, it hasn’t been the same picture during the Mercedes era. Camt blame Mercedes they are simply doing a better job that Ferrari and RBR. What you can blame is the two teir grid that has now emerged. Haas and Racing Point are two of the best teams in my opinion when you consider points per £ spent. Teir 2 also has the best on track… Read more »