Part of the game that is the “spirit of competition” I talking smack about your competitors. Formula 1 is no different and when asked at the AUTOSPORT awards show, Mercedes’ chief designer John Owen said:
“Our rivals seem to have sacked half their companies – so I think they are in a bit of a difficult situation.
“If they had remained stable and got their heads together, rather than criticising themselves and maybe the sport, I think we would be more worried than we are.”
There is a really good chance that I am alone in my view but I don’t think Ferrari were criticizing the sport because they were losing. They were against the move going in to it back in 2013. As for Red Bull, well, perhaps they would have a different tune if Renault Sport F1 had shown up with a competitive lump but as it is, one could argue it’s a case of sour grapes.
Mercedes has baked-in performance advantages and before I get all grumpy about that, so did Red Bull and Ferrari when they dominated the sport. It is an evolutionary cycle that these teams run through with even Brawn GP being the title-winning evolution of Honda’s hard work and Ross Brawn’s tricky dual diffuser—they’d later go on to win the 2014 title as Mercedes AMG Petronas.
What Owen has correctly described is a time of tumult within the competitors teams. Ferrari have had massive restructuring and to be fair, it really has more to do with Fiat and Chrysler than it does their F1 team although the racing operation has taken serious hits in management due to Fiat’s flotation.
For Red Bull, Adrian Newey’s near-departure and boat-building retention program has some wondering just how much of his heart is really in it and the loss of key personnel and Sebastian Vettel have shaken things up over there.
Like all teams who have the bravado of winning, Mr. Owen should enjoy this. They’ve worked hard to achieve it and even muscled the sport around a bit in order to change the playing field to their advantage, which was a brilliant move.
With all success in F1, it can be fleeting and the biggest question for 2015 is if any other team will take a chunk of that baked-in advantage away from Mercedes. Will a team find the missing 1-second per lap or is this a case of a 4-year domination by Mercedes and many more titles for Lewis Hamilton?
I tend to think we will see more titles by Mercedes until the engine a regulations change. This also means that we’ll have a few more years in which Hamilton fans try to convince the world that he’s winning titles in a car that isn’t the best on the grid like Vettel and Schumacher had by using hyper-critical criteria in which to justify it like, “yeah but his brake system isn’t as good as Ferrari’s and he’s had to nurse that more than any other driver on the grid” or “yeah, but Lewis has a more competitive teammate than any other driver has had”. Sure…whatever.
I do like Geoff Willis and his more measured comments and humility about Mercedes and their success:
“It is going well – but it is steady progress,” he said.
“You have to be humble in this business. Success one year does not guarantee it the next.
“I hope we will be strong, I think we will be strong, just how strong we will have to wait and see.
“But it is reasonably stable regulations between 2014 and 2015, which does give its own challenges. It is harder to find improvements.”
This is a real key point to the regulatory advantage that Mercedes has now. Can other teams start to chip away at the performance advantage? Like all regulatory restrictions, there is a point where you reach the far reaches of what can be gained within those confines. We’ve seen this before so it will be interesting to see how fast teams can reach the end of the technical gains within this set of rules and when they do, will Mercedes still be on top?
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT