One whole season. An entire season. The extent of Mercedes’ dominance over F1 came with its 19th straight pole position at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix; it was in Austria last year that Mercedes last didn’t take pole, thanks to Williams and Felipe Massa. It’s also a run that doesn’t figure to end anytime soon.
If last year’s performance by Mercedes – all but one pole and 16 of 19 race wins – was considered one of the most dominant campaigns ever, where does that leave us this year? Williams are quick on certain tracks and nowhere on others (Monaco, anyone?), Red Bull doesn’t have a chassis this year to overcome the same lack of power from its engine that it had in 2014, and Ferrari continues to employ Kimi Raikkonen, although for how much longer remains to be seen. Inconsistency, finger-pointing and high-profile superannuation schemes are holding Mercedes’ potential rivals back, and while it’s not all gold medal performances for the Silver Arrows (Monaco, anyone?), there’s little to worry about for the remainder of the season, or so it seems.
Rather than handicapping Mercedes to bring them back to the field as has been suggested by those pushing for change from many different angles, it’s up to the rest to do a better job. Sounds simple, but isn’t. And nor should it be. F1 should be difficult, and it will change. People seem to have forgotten that not even two years ago, another driver and another team won the final nine races of the season and 13 for the year. The world was nearing an end then too, if you recall …
Episode 106 of ‘The Inside Line’ looks back at last weekend at the Red Bull Ring, surely one of the sport’s best settings; catch our wrap in any one of the following countries or check your local guides.