I’m With Toto On This One…

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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.

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Sakae

Problem is not with “that the people from Brackley and Stuttgart have taken F1 to yet another level”, but that we have rules in effect that handcuff competition, and create roadblocks for other teams, slowing them from recovery of errors at the pace they deem required to catch a frontrunner. Making mistakes, but having chance to recover was always part of empirical life. Only fools can deny it. I do not recall any similar year in whole F1 history. Be it in Vettel’s, or Schumacher’s period, others could rebuild and test a new car to make it right. Now –… Read more »

Johnpierre Rivera

That is a very interesting point about Ham and the difference between what drivers had to contend with only just ten years ago. It is quite true in the fact that you could show up in march with a not so fast car but by the summer break be right on the pace. That was the case for McLaren at the end of 2012.

MIE

In previous years, team’s that had messed up with their design over the winter could spend their way out of trouble (if and only if they had the funds to do it). Now they cannot, so they have to get their sums right over the winter. Just like the smaller teams.

Sakae

This is precisely a point which irks me. As stated previously on numerous occasions, it is not a crime to be better than anyone else, and enjoying every moment of victory, but it has to be achieved under competitive conditions, and my believe is, we do not have fair and square fight. To be clear, I am not worry much about Tier 2 lagging, but the gap between Mercedes, and balance of the field in Tier 1 which is in shackles. Homologation of new technology in its inception year, and without much on track-testing, is escaping my understanding, how and… Read more »

Coji

Sakae got it right, to an extent. Rules are what’s stifling the competition. Then again, credit to Mercedes who got it right. For them to do so in such stunning fashion whereas all others are/were so far behind is commendable. The mathematics branch of statistics have that probability of achieving the same result diminishes as attempts increase (yes, each instance is either win or don’t (50/50 or 1/20 if you like), so for them to continue gets more and more impressive. Bernie said of Vettel’s domination after nine consecutive that people will tune in to see if that is the… Read more »

Sakae

Passing was never strong suit of F1, and historical account would back me on that. Exclusivity, anticipation, not too much of TV, etc. was all part of the past. F1 however always had at least one or two teams in contention at the front, and sitting by the track, waiting for leaders to show up for fraction of time in the front of you, and waiting full of suspence – did he, or he hasn’t? Those were good times. When did we see last time a fight such as we had with Prost, Senna, and Schumacher, all beating hek out… Read more »

Yeti

@Coji5gt:disqus : The rules are not stiffling the competition. The rules are preventing a lot of different approaches. Even with the token system an engine manufacturer can completely rebuild an engine over the course of one or two years, so if you have a serious flaw in your design, you can overcome that, as hopefully Honda and Renault will do for next year and Ferrari have done for this year and hopefully will close the gap for next year. As for the overtakes, there were twice as much overtakes this season than in every season between 1994 and 2009. Since… Read more »

Coji

Overtakes on the back of a straight are different than mid-corner passing.

The current rules are divisive. It’s my opinion that they are stifling because manufacturers cannot compete among each other. See the constructors table for proof.

Sakae

@Yeti Forgive me for sounding adversarial, but in my book total effect of restrictive rules applied upon technical development under some devilish economic umbrella has been devastating to product, which is racing. Who would dare to deny that today? Sure, you can play around edges, but this is not the F1 I know and loved. This is supposing to be competitive series ffs, not a one team’s circulating bill board every other weekend for two hours, whilst others using race time to debug design errors in their love-machines. If it is bad in February, you are screwed for a year,… Read more »

Sakae

How is that for logic and comeptetive spirit? More you are sucessful in competetive series, more FiA/FOM will punish you.
motorsport.com; Quote – Mercedes boss Toto

Wolff says his team has been left with a bitter-sweet feeling after having to
pay a record $4.8 million entry fee for the 2016 Formula 1 championship.

geeyore

While we all crave competition and even dominance on the track, the rules and the mandatory equipment changes not just every year, but throughout the year – coupled with rules which restrict remediation and improvement – divert the attention of everyone, from principals to mechanics to drivers and of course to fans. I cannot think of any other competitive sport where the rules (in our case, the formula) change on an ongoing basis, and not too much for the better. And far, far worse: rules are changed to cater to external social and political forces. I really would like to… Read more »

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