Let me first state for the record, my name JohnPierre E Rivera and I’m the young age of forty-nine. As to the first, I commonly go by JP. As to the second, I have been watching F1 for quite some time now and I can unequivocally say (for the record) no one team’s dominance has ever been bad for F1.
That notion is a smoke screen, a red herring, for people that don’t appreciate how hard it is to win even just once, let alone multiple times in F1. Or for the fans of teams and drivers that are not winning. Every sport has teams and their dominant eras. American Football had Joe Montana and the Niners, now it’s Tom Brady and the Patriots. Baseball had the Yankees, at times it was the Dodgers, the Oakland A’s come to mind as well, in the seventies Cincinnati’s big red machine with such players as Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and of course Pete Rose. In Basketball the Celtics and Bird, the Lakers, Kareem and Magic, and then again with Shak and Kobe the Spurs with Tim Duncan to name a few.
Then there is racing. Do the names Penske, Ganassi, or Force, ring a bell? How about Johnson, Steward or Gordon?
I have not even scratched the surface yet with Porsche and Audi winning in so many formulas on so many different continents in so many different eras that it makes me wonder why any manufacturer or driver would want to go up against them, quite frankly.
Now it is Mercedes dominating F1 and all of a sudden this is bad for F1. When Ferrari and Michael Schumacher were beating everyone into oblivion was that bad for the sport? Was the gives-you-wings Red Bull-Renault-Adrian Newey-Sebastian Vettel juggernaut bad for F1?
Going back a few years, did Williams’s domination ruin the sport? Going back a little further than that to one very special year in the late eighties when a certain white and orange liveried car piloted by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost won every Grand Prix of the season minus one, did that leave the sport torn and tattered and in such a shambles that it failed to capture the imagination of the motoring world henceforth?
No, no, no, no and I’ll throw a couple of extra no-s in for good measure.
Say what you will about the lack of competition in F1 in its current state, but I don’t buy that for one carbon fiber minute. F1 is free market economics, Darwin’s natural selection and human ego personified and that is just fine by me. Who cares if from time to time there is a team or a driver or both that smash the competition into itsy bitsy pieces of also ran’s? That is the point of the exercise, to win and without mercy beat your opponent. Guess what? The opponent does not want mercy!
This is why Senna being the king of Monaco was so great and if he had anything close to a decent car everyone else was at a huge disadvantage. This is why fans are awestruck when Michael Schumacher puts in a number of qualifying laps to overcome a 20+ second deficit back in 1998 at the Hungarian GP and finish on the top step of podium at the expense of David Coulthard who should have won. And this is why it is equally grand to see Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg these last two years win just about everything under the sun. I love watching athletes or teams dominate. Be it in tennis, downhill skiing, boxing, you name it. I also love a good match, an even match, but the two are not mutually exclusive.
Maybe I don’t mind Mercedes or any team dominating due to the fact that I know winning in F1 is one of the hardest undertakings in any sports endeavor. So many things have to be millimeter-perfect and then, more perfect than that. While it is true these last two years have been reduced to a two horse race, what we should be celebrating is the execution by a team to get 99.9% of everything it did right.
At its most fundamental F1, if we are to existentially look at it, is not just about winning races and a championship. At its core it is the pursuit of absolute perfection.The perfect lap, the perfect race and the perfect strategy. The perfect pit-stop. It is also the perfect set up, the perfect aero kit, the perfect chassis balance. It exists in all sports in some way, shape or form. In baseball there is the perfectly pitched game, in bowling there is the magical 300 score. In golf the perfect approach shot. In figure skating or gymnastics there have been those moments when the performance is so flawless the score card from the judges has no deductions leaving that perfect 10 or 100. There are many more examples.
Does anyone say that a baseball game was boring because there were no hits by one team? No! It is celebrated, that rare no-hitter! Does anyone complain when the breathless figure skater holding roses gets a perfect score and all but ensures no one else can win the gold? No, because the fans and competitors alike saw something beautiful, rare, and incredibly difficult to do. To merely bear witness to the perfect performance is sheer joy and fulfillment for fan and competitor alike.
That being said, a car is not an ice skater or a pitcher, and it can get a little tedious watching Lewis or Nico just pull away at ease when they want to. But we should be directing our attention to what Mercedes has accomplished in this most complex and difficult era of F1. We should be focusing on the fact that the team Ross Brawn put together, and Toto and Niki helped to consolidate, has raised the bar in F1. Just like Helmut Marko, Adrian Newey and Vettel in the era of double diffusers, off throttle blowing and the black art of down force did prior to them. And just as Luca di Montezemolo, Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Michael did before them with the innovations that kept their competitors behind the fancy red cars.
To be honest I did not think it was possible to dominate any more comprehensively than Red Bull and Vettel did with their recent eight titles. It will be a tall order to match. But by just about everyone’s yardstick Mercedes has produced a much more dominate car, a masterpiece. And I for one am not complaining, I am celebrating the fact that the people from Brackley and Stuttgart have taken F1 to yet another level. You should too.