Mercedes domination is greater and unlike any other

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It’s not that this number wrangling is unheard of but the thing I like about AUTOSPORT is their straightforward approach to just calling it out when it may not be the desired revelation some folks would like running around social media.

When Mercedes acquired Brawn GP, they inherited a terrific race program and leadership from one of the sport’s most iconic players in Ross Brawn. Brawn was instrumental in dislodging the Mercedes relationship from McLaren as well as their star driver and soon-to-be 3-time champion, Lewis Hamilton.

Brawn was also very involved in the technical working group (later replaced by the F1 Strategy Group) and heavily influenced the sports progress toward a V6 hybrid turbo format.

Hamilton Russia Mercedes title 2015

The results were clear from the first qualifying session of the season in 2014…Mercedes had loaded the deck and were now being credited as simply doing a better job than the others in making their car and engine.

Fair enough but as the season got underway back in 2014, there was an immediate concern from my perspective as the drivers were well over a second per lap faster than the nearest competitors and after 30 or 40 laps, they would be nearly 40 seconds ahead of the others.

This wasn’t simply doing a better job, this was sheer domination in the world of F1 where it is measured by the thousandth of a second.

As the season went on, Mercedes nearly won every race and if it were not for some attrition and oddities that handed Red Bull a few bones, they would have pummeled previous series-dominating performances from McLaren.

Japan Mercedes start 2015

At the time, I was alarmed by the pace and clear lack of anything closely resembling parity or even a chance to achieve parity with the new regulations regarding the engine development freeze. Scorn was heaped on me a few times for claiming that these regulations would kill F1 because the performance advantage was baked in thanks to the regs and we would see Mercedes domination like no other time in F1. I was accused of being a complete idiot. Fair enough, I didn’t put up too strong a rebuttal because I felt time would eventually prove the case leaving me in the position of not having to.

Today AUTOSPORT did the numbers and you can play with a lot of things, and in politics they do, but on the base of it, numbers should have no bias. In AUTOSPORT’s case, they don’t.

So where does Mercedes domination fit in the history of F1 domination? Off the charts my friends. Much greater than any of the teams including all those much-loathed Ferrari domination years.  Yes, you heard that right…you thought the Schumacher era was out of control? Guess again:

MERCEDES IN 2014/15 (so far):

Wins: 28 from 34 – 82%
Poles: 32 from 34 – 94%
Laps led: 1668 of 2030 – 82%

McLAREN-HONDA 1988/89

Wins: 25 from 32 – 78%
Poles: 30 from 32 – 94%
Laps led: 1748 from 2070 – 84%

McLaren stats for full 1988-91 period:

Wins: 39 from 64 – 61%
Poles: 52 from 64 – 81%
Laps led: 2878 from 4102 – 70%

WILLIAMS-RENAULT 1992/93

Wins: 20 from 32 – 62.5%
Poles: 30 from 32 – 94%
Laps led: 1540 from 2081 – 74%

FERRARI 2000-04

Wins: 57 from 75 – 76%
Poles: 51 from 75 – 68%
Laps led: 1168 from 2140 – 55%

Not even Red Bull Racing’s recent 4-year title trot was as dominant as Mercedes is today. The fact is, AUTOSPORT has shown very clearly the reality of what Mercedes has accomplished and while many commend them for their efforts, I will argue that they will continue this domination until a change is made to the regulations.

Ferrari catching up? James Allison says they have made a big step in 2015 but will have to repeat it is 2016 to get anywhere close to Merc’s performance. That means they are only half way there.

Hamilton Japan win 2015

The current regulations are set to change in 2020 so if they series doesn’t do anything, Mercedes will have a long run of titles and that may be good for Lewis Hamilton but it isn’t for other teams. There is a precedent for regulatory body, the FIA, and commercial right’s body, Formula One Management (FOM), to start making changes to balance the power and raise competitiveness. We’ve seen that with the banning of many key elements that have given teams and advantage.

Blown diffusers, flexi-wings, flexi-floors, F-duct, J-dampers and more have been banned with many bans leading to a tangible impact. The issue here is that much of the sport today is reliant on the engine and unless they start making serious changes to the way the power units work, there is little they can do to close the performance gap…unless they let the aerodynamic regulations loose for rampant innovative tricks etc.

That said, I think it is a worthy cause to recognize the reality of what the sport is facing in terms of a regulatory-fueled domination and while the FIA have remained very quiet, it is time for them to act and un-load the deck that Mercedes dealt with.

I have no axe to grind with Mercedes, pushing the limits of the regulations is all part of the F1 game but this is a series that has a driver and reading Max Mosley’s biography it is is clear to me that he clearly understood that key element.

There is no trophy for world engineer’s title and while he was castigated for banning many of the innovations, he knew all too well that this is a racing series first and technology coupled with engineering is an additive but shouldn’t be the focus. That’s why he banned driver’s aids and even Ayrton Senna was calling for the ban.

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT…great jobs folks.

 

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mini696

Domination is part of the game. Hamstringing the teams so they have no chance of catching up for 12 months, or even longer, is not enjoyable.

Could it be even worse next year without the in-season tokens to spend?

92gsr

I’m too lazy to do the research but I’m willing to bet there are quite a few rules that were put in place years ago because they weren’t able to regulate the technology. With our current technology that could be possible.

Negative Camber

It could and one of the reasons I am bringing this up is I am reading Max’s bio and he speaks at length about balancing the tech with the driver skill and he’s very much about drivers first, tech second. He felt it was germane to the sport and I tend to agree with him…screw road car innovation, those geniuses at the car makers are doing perfectly fine on their own. One key point, and I will try to bring this up on the podcast, is that he said the reason he believes so many engineers are drawn to the… Read more »

peter riva

Reminds me of why engineers always wanted to join the Skunk Works and currently Scaled in Mojave.

Yeti

Cars were much less reliable in these days, so the numbers are skewed in my opinion.

But even if you would exclude Mercedes, Ferrari would even dominate more this year, also published by Autosport recently.

And although the engine is important it is not all about the engine, otherwise teams like Force India and Lotus would beat Ferrari. Even Williams is not able to do that, so car design is still just as important.

And engine manfacturers are talking about an engine unfreeze for next year, so that could make next year more competitive.

Negative Camber

they may have been in the Macca and williams days but not Ferrari and RBR, those cars were bullet proof.

yoshif8tures

So we’re gonna see Lewis win everything until 2020, I really hope not. But I see why they refused red bull and why red bull see the whole thing as a lost cause.

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

I just read the (ready your voice) AUTOSPORT piece after reading this blog post. Pretty staggering these statistics. As a Vettel fan I find it so funny that with a 54-66% win rate in its most dominant times he was being booed on the podium. I guess having an Instagram page helps avoid that. Anyways, I read an insightful comment on Reddit talking about the sport just needs to make up its mind. Are you about entertaining or being a technological leader? I’d say let’s go the latter. Remove the chains. Let them run what they bring to the Circuit… Read more »

longshot

About being entertaining or a technological leader, I’d argue that the current F1 fits neither description.

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

Right. That is the problem. It needs to choose one and I think it needs to be the latter (technology over entertainment).

longshot

There’s plenty of ways that other teams could be allowed to catch up, if the FIA had any interest in actually contributing to the wellbeing of F1. They’ve done this in the past, for example allowing Renault a special dispensation to tune their engine prior to the V8 specs being frozen. So what could be done now to move towards power unit parity? Because lets face it F1 is all about power units right now and will be for the foreseeable future. Well, firstly there’s the areas that are blocked off from any development each year – for 2016 for… Read more »

Negative Camber

All very good points, mate. I was wondering if they even opened up the aero regs a bit to unchain Newey and Allison if they’d get a better competition too. Can’t forget James Key either, he’s made a fabulous car in that STR this year.

longshot

A bit off-topic to this discussion, but I just stumbled across this…

“…a meeting is set to take place on Thursday in which potentially modifying the engine rules will be discussed.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport claims that another radical idea on
the table is to solve Red Bull’s engine crisis by allowing the teams to
use an old V8 from 2013, with rules put in place to ensure equivalent
performance with the rest of the V6-powered field.”

hat-tip to thisisf1.com

JohnWhitling

The question there is “which end of the V6 powered field”?

longshot

Also, who would supply those engines? I can’t see Mercedes, Renault or Ferrari being willing to manufacture them, and Cosworth’s V8s were hardly competitive.

JohnWhitling

I think that everyone is coming to the conclusion that Red Bull is history in F1. There just isn’t a way to make it work given the current cast of characters running the “sport”. I’m sure RB are hanging around as a team, perhaps doing an exhibition series or some such like they do with other sports, and see if the VW deal offers an opportunity to revisit F1 after the PU age. This is pretty clear evidence that PUs are killing F1 at the expense of the mfrs. As viewership continues to decline Bernie will try to change things… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

I think the point is that domination is only good if it’s good for the sport. When it’s not good for the sport, then anyone throwing up their hands and saying “That’s the way it’s always been” is simply “copping out”. There is no excuse for continuing something that’s bad for the sport (or bad for life, for that matter). If there’s a problem, you fix it, no excuses….assuming, of course, that you can actually come up with something better.

DRS_Matt

We should congratulate them and respect the work this domination took. Did Mclaren not say during the schumacher years “Its up to us to catch up”?

longshot

For sure. The difference between now and previous periods is that the engine development regulations give Mercedes a baked-in advantage, making it more and more difficult for anyone to catch up to them as time goes by, whereas in the past regulations were constantly changed to enforce a degree of parity.

jcn115

Yes, McLaren said that, but that it was during the time where in season development was allowed. Today’s regs have made the series engine, sorry, power unit dependent and not the aero. With engine development locked down, will give Mercedes the advantage for years to come. During the RBR years, at least it was the aero that made the difference, and even though the FIA banned anything RBR did year after year to slow them down, they were still smart enough of develop the better car, but at least during those years, especially the beginning of 2012 the competition was… Read more »

Johnpierre Rivera

What a great piece…. NC you really nailed it…

Rahul Vadhs

Why not just give a few more tokens in the decending number of the order the engine manufacturer finish in this year…

1 to Mercedes
2 to Ferrari
3 to Renault
4 to Honda

Everyone gets more than what they need, and levels the field!!!

longshot

Its a great idea, in fact I proposed the same kind of thing in another post on this thread. I’m not sure about finishing order as it could be skewed by how many backmarker teams the manufacturer is supplying. You could avoid that by just considering the works team alone, but then other factors come into play such as accidents, team/driver ability and failure of non-engine components … and what if a PU manufacturer ends up not running a works (or defacto works) team? Hence what I suggested was the average top speed in the speed traps on each track,… Read more »

Dave C

I Think there is an even more sensible way where every one wins and cost can be controlled . At the end of most GP weekends most drivers have tyres which they have not used or are very lightly used. On the Monday after the race let the teams test using these tyres. The cars which finished on the podium have to return their tyres and they are given to the last three classified drivers from the race. Each engine supplier can run one development engine in what ever spec they want with their nominated for the season OEM team… Read more »

MIE

Nigel Mansell won his 1992 title in Hungary, the eleventh race of a sixteen race season. So much earlier than Hamilton has managed. In the British GP that year Mansell was 1.9 seconds faster than his team-mate in qualifying, and 2.7 seconds faster than Ayrton Senna in third. Damon Hill as the final qualifier was 7.4 seconds slower (109.4%). In 1988 McLaren won fifteen out of sixteen races, and had fifteen out of sixteen pole positions. Including later years when the opposition had caught up slightly is skewing the statistics slightly. In 2002 Schumacher won the title in France, the… Read more »

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