With talk of open engine development and the removal of engine tokens, we’ve been discussing the reality of closing the gap to Mercedes and their performance advantage. No one doubts it’s a tall order but without the restriction on development, some feel it is achievable.
Perhaps the more motivating issue is to remove the current dominance so there is less dominance in the sport via Mercedes and their hybrid power unit dominance. Having won 32 of the last 38 races, you could be forgiven for getting a little tired of the lopsided situation and mostly due to hybrid engine regulations. However, FIA president, Jean Todt, doesn’t think it’s very fair to criticize Mercedes or F1 for the current situation:
“I would be more happy if there were different winners for each race, but that will never happen,” Todt said.
“You have to accept domination is part of the sport, and not only in motor racing because you have domination in football, tennis, athletics, rugby.
“It is everywhere, so why should you expect no domination in motor racing?
“The negativity that surrounds it is absolutely unfair, but constructive criticism I can accept.
“Of course, I am not satisfied. I think the challenge could be better, and when we sit behind closed doors we try to address how we can do things better.
“But to punish ourselves, there is no need for that, or at least I am not devious enough to understand it.”
The question really becomes centered on the hybrid engine and how long it will take, sans engine development token system, to reach parity and the law of diminished returns. Some believe quickly while others still think Mercedes will be dominating for a few years yet and that’s good news because three-time world champion and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton could but in the right place at the right time.
According to Hamilton’s father, Anthony, Lewis has another 10 years in the sport and if he is going to achieve as much as he can, he’ll need to be in the most competitive car.
“What Lewis doesn’t want to do is run away with it and just win races because the others cars aren’t up to scratch or the other teams are struggling. He wants everyone to be at the same level and he wants to win on merit.
“He’s winning on merit because he’s in the best team and is doing the best job, but he would like to see other people compete and have to struggle for a win.”
The one thing I have learned about Lewis over time is that the last sentence is most likely true. I don’t believe Lewis likes to win simply because he’s in the best car. It nags at him and he wasn’t too complimentary of Sebastian Vettel’s wins when he was dominating at Red Bull. I think Lewis loves a good fight and wants his wins and titles to be beyond reproach.
The man, perhaps, most poised to actually achieve this is Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari. Having won four titles at Red Bull, the German moved to Ferrari and now faces the task of building the team into a title-winning machine and there would be little doubt of his abilities or titles. Like Lewis, Vettel could be around a while too.