Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Will Mercedes win every race? They – and their rivals – think not

2019 F1 season

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Mercedes have their rivals reeling with a near-perfect start to the 2019 F1 season over the first five races.

With five consecutive one-twos, and two fastest laps from a possible five, they’ve scored 217 out of a maximum 220 points.

No F1 team has ever won every points-scoring round of the world championship. The high watermark was set in 1988 by McLaren, who notched up 15 wins from a possible 16.

Completing a clean sweep of this year’s 21 races is potentially a much tougher challenge for Mercedes. Their competition is much closer than McLaren faced 31 years ago, when they qualified more than three seconds ahead of their closest rivals at some rounds.

Mercedes has always been cautious when it comes to managing expectations. So it’s no surprise team principal Toto Wolff played down the possibility of them remaining undefeated until the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on December 1st.

Asked whether he thought his team could win every race this year, Wolff answered: “No.

“First of all I think you need to stay humble. Both feet on the ground. We’ve had five fantastic performances now with five one-twos but we don’t take it for granted. That’s really the mindset that we are having.”

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Mercedes’ superior slow-corner performance at the Circuit de Catalunya marks them out as possible favourites in Monaco this weekend. But Wolff pointed out their recent record at the track is not great, and expects the race to be a “tremendous challenge” for them.

“We’ve not performed well in Monaco these last years. That was a track you remember how strong Ricciardo was last year in the Red Bull. I think we need to take one step at a time.”

Ayrton Senna, McLaren, 1988
McLaren were up to three seconds faster than their rivals in 1988
Depressingly for their rivals, in Spain Mercedes enjoyed their biggest one-lap performance advantage since 2016. But Ferrari and Red Bull and not yet prepared to accept the possibility 2019 could be a clean sweep for Mercedes.

“We never give up,” said Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto. “Our objective, the ultimate objective, is to do better than in Barcelona.

“Each circuit is different. Monaco will be a different circuit. I think our car’s got some strengths, certainly weaknesses, but as well some strengths.”

As for the suggestion Mercedes could win every race, Binotto said: “I think it’s certainly too early for such an assumption.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has known dominance in recent seasons, such as when Sebastian Vettel scooped the 2011 and 2013 titles. He also doesn’t expected Mercedes to achieve a clean sweep.

“I doubt it,” he said, “21 races, to achieve 21 victories, you never say never but it’d be a hell of an achievement.”

Arguably, Mercedes’ five consecutive one-twos flatters them somewhat, indicating their superiority over the rest of the field is greater than it is. While they clearly overwhelmed the opposition in Australia and Spain, Ferrari had clear changes to beat them in Bahrain and Baku, but were undone by a combination of team and driver errors.

Will Mercedes win all 21 races? They have the team and car to do it. But it is as much a question of whether their rivals will allow them to do it.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Will Mercedes win every race? They – and their rivals – think not”

  1. I’d say that across a 21-race season, pure chance will likely throw a bone to their rivals. Mixing metaphors, they need to grab it with both hands. There are three other drivers out there who’re relatively close enough to capitalize on any issue/error Mercedes have, provided they have a good day when Mercedes stumble.

    I think back to 2014 when the Mercedes car seemed unassailable, and Ferrari and Red Bull had their respective issues with chassis and PU, yet RBR snuck in three victories.

  2. I don’t think Merc will win every race but they are looking so strong at the moment and have won the WDC and WCC for 2019 It’s certainly possible. They will definitely dominate the season leaving the rest of the field fighting for crumbs. But I would not like to see rules changed to stop them from winning, it’s up to the other teams to catch up.

    1. Rules were changed to stop ferrari from winning though years ago, different teams, different actions?

  3. Too many things can go wrong 2016 season is the best example even with two competitive drivers and a dominating car its extremly difficult to win every single race in the season. If Mercs manage to win all 21 races then it will be one hell of achievement.

    1. The two misses in 2016 were down to a blown engine in Malaysia, and the intra-team battle in Spain. Otherwise that would have been a clean sweep.

      I can’t see it happening this year, but y’never know. I just hope uneven reliability doesn’t decide it like 2016.

      1. Apart from blown engine in Malaysia, Roseberg was spun at start of race and had to fight from last place. So its not just intra-team battle or reliability but the on track conditions which also dictate how the season proceeds for teams.

  4. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    20th May 2019, 12:53

    Winning all of them is depressingly possible but fortunately unlikely. They’ll lose two or three at best – nothing to stop them sweeping away with both titles with several races to spare though. I’d bet this year’s going to be a contender for the most dismal season in a while.

    1. G (@unklegsif)
      20th May 2019, 14:49

      Personally I have never understood this viewpoint (even when teams I didint follow were in such dominant form (RB and Ferrari).
      Form that enables such a thing to even be contemplated, (and I am thinking the mechanical, technical, sporting, manufacturing and most importantly cultural) should only be celebrated and marvelled at, rather than sneered at or thought as a bad thing

      I’ve never been exactly what you would call a Mercedes fan, however the trials and tribulations that the team has gone through from the collapse of the Honda programme, the Phoenix moment of Brawn GP, to the continual rebuilding and year on year improvements since the MB take-over is nothing short of remarkable

      Fans on forums need to look at the nuances of the bigger picture

      G

      1. @unklegsif I guess none of us motorsport fans dismiss Mercedes or any other dominant team achivements. It’s a huge effort from all sides.

        But it’s plain boring. I’d rather have a season like 2003, 2010, 2012 than clean sweeps like 2013 or 2011…

        If we had a Prost vs Senna or Rosberg vs Hamilton thing going on, it’d be at least somewhat interesting… but these two guys get along well, for god’s sake…!

  5. I will take it one step at a time.

    …and celebrate if it happens!

  6. Just given their performances over recent seasons, you would have to say Red Bull are in with a shout of winning in Monaco and Singapore. That said, the Mercedes were quick in the final sector in Barcelona last week so this is by no means a given. In the same vein, Ferrari’s incredible straightline speed this season has to make them favourites in Austria and Monza. Everywhere else though, Mercedes are probably red hot favourites.

    1. You are forgetting Mexico which also suits RBR cars.

      1. Indeed…I remembered that immediately after I posted that comment.

        1. @geemac, I would say that Mexico tended to favour the Renault power unit rather than necessarily favouring Red Bull, since it is worth noting that McLaren and Renault were also more competitive in Mexico.

          For Renault, qualifying 7th and 8th was their joint best qualifying result (tied with Germany), and Vandoorne scored his final points that season and had his joint highest finish. Indeed, Horner did later make a comment about how the characteristics of the Renault power unit meant that it had less of a performance drop off at altitude than other engines in the field – so although they might have been competitive there in 2018, that might not necessarily carry forward into this year.

          The other issue is that Red Bull’s reliability seems to have slipped a bit. We first saw Gasly retire from Baku with a driveshaft failure, and then in Spain both Red Bull drivers had their driveshafts changed in Parc Ferme after qualifying. They then seem to have had at least two driveshaft failures during the post race tests in Barcelona – all in all, their driveshafts suddenly seem to have become rather more prone to failure than normal.

          1. They weren’t “competitive” in 2018, they were dominant in mexico, ferrari decent, mercedes struggling.

          2. BlackJackFan
            21st May 2019, 6:11

            Esploratore… good grief, I thought I was pedantic…! ;-)

  7. I see it as a point of interest in the season. It’s a shame that success such as Mercedes is showing is seen as a negative rather than celebrated. Sure, it may make some races less entertaining, but Formula One is still unpredictable, otherwise we’d all be making a mint at the bookmakers. It’d be an incredible achievement if they can win all the races. Dominance has happened before and it will again.

    That being said, I’m almost certain that it won’t happen. Ferrari are currently trying too hard… they set their expectations high and are not the quickest car, so to compensate, they are making poor decisions and rather than settling for an easy 3-4 in every race until they improve, they’ve let Max Verstappen in. Given previous form in development over the season (both car and driver), I’d say the biggest threat to Mercedes’ race victories (and maybe the drivers championship at a very big push) is Verstappen.

    1. @ben-n

      …Formula One is still unpredictable…

      Have to disagree here. It is unpredictable on the edges; will Merc win all the races? Who will come in third in the WDC, or second in the WCC? However, the main plot is already painfully clear. And if you’re betting on anyone other than Lewis and Merc taking the titles, you’re probably going to lose. Bottas could surprise us, sure, but that seems unlikely. And unless the Merc suffers a massive design failure, it will be near enough to a clean sheet to not even matter.

      1. Indeed, it’s at best between bottas and hamilton, mercedes wcc, you can bet on that if you want, low risk and decent gain, I just don’t typically make bets as I don’t want to bother but it’s pretty safe.

  8. Merc will deliberately avoid winning a few races in agreement with FIA although their capacity would allow them to. Just to create some artificial “excitement” during races that otherwise might have less tickets sold. They can’t do much about the TV-viewers though. Numbers will drop the more they win.

  9. Neil (@neilosjames)
    20th May 2019, 14:06

    They could have been beaten in two of the five we’ve had so far (one definitely and comprehensively, one potentially) without mechanical or driver errors. Also, their best driver isn’t entirely tuned into the car and the (supposed) second driver has been exceptional thus far but isn’t known for his consistency over the course of a whole season.

    So… no, I can’t see it happening. The advantage isn’t big enough to translate to a whopping gap at every circuit and there are far too many things that could go wrong for them.

  10. Over 21 races you’d have to be very lucky as well as dominant, to win them all.

    At this point Mercedes have a clear advantage in the Championship standings, and are obviously the favourites, but there is a very long way to go yet. Even if it takes Ferrari another two or three races to find competitive pace, they’d still have time to claw back the deficit. That seems unlikely right now, but not nearly as unlikely as Mercedes running away with it.

    I have to say, I think Merc dominance is currently more hype than reality. They’re faster, but by a much narrower margin than 5-0 suggests. It could have easily been 3-2 instead. The last race was below par for Ferrari, and only showed that they are struggling in certain conditions rather than indicating the current pace differential. !

  11. Their competition is much closer than McLaren faced 31 years ago, when they qualified more than three seconds ahead of their closest rivals at some rounds.

    Useful reality check for the serial complainers about contemporary competitiveness. The fact is that Mercedes have kept ahead only just the past 2+ years and it’s the mistakes of their main competitor, Ferrari, and their own honed competence, including that of their drivers, that have allowed the team to seem so dominant still.

  12. Mercedes is unlikely to win every race this year.
    However
    – Mercedes is unlikely to be beaten for qualifying pace any time this year.
    – Mercedes is unlikely to be beaten for race pace any time this year.
    – Mercedes may be beaten on strategy this year.

    So… Mercedes will beat themselves/fail at some point this year. But I find it unlikely that another team will beat them on merit this year.

    1. @mickharrold Mercedes was beaten for all of those three in Bahrain already though.

      They weren’t beaten on reliability that race though.

    2. @mickharrold, as others have noted earlier in this thread, there are some venues where Ferrari might present more of a threat.

      The main characteristics of Ferrari’s current car seem to be that it is weaker at front limited circuits, but much more competitive at circuits which are quite heavily rear limited (as most rivals then have to dial in understeer to balance the cars up over a race stint). The car also seems to be fairly competitive in medium high to high speed corners, with its main weaknesses seemingly coming in slow speed corners.

      As some have noted, the Austrian GP is one race where they could well be more competitive – high average lap speeds and a venue that tends to be rear traction limited, meaning it shares a number of characteristics with Bahrain. Equally, although Monza does have the chicanes and slower middle sector, that is another circuit which is very heavily rear traction limited, not to mention that the long straights are likely to play to their advantage.

      The other possible outside chance might be Spa, where there have been two different approaches – a slightly higher downforce set up that aims to maximise performance in the middle sector at the expense of the first and final sectors, and a low downforce approach that sacrifices the middle sector to maximise straight line speed in the first and last sectors.

      Ferrari might well decide to just go all out and try to maximise their straight line performance in Spa and bank on that to gain time – it’s a venue where that strategy could work.

      1. Well analysed again anon, that sounds quite plausible.

  13. Piece of cake.

    Looks like they will dominate the pre WW3 era like they did pre WW2. :-)

  14. I’ve posted before about Bottas’ need to really improve his performance to beat Hamilton, and this article got me thinking…what if Merc win all but a few? – I think Hamilton could let Bottas keep the change and still be WDC:

    If Merc win 17 races then Bottas can double or triple his current win rate (approx 2/season) and Hamilton would still be able to win the title with 10 victories, about his average since the Mercedes era started.

    In fact, even a score of 6 to 11 gives Hamilton a DNF worth of points to spare.

  15. Strange, why are we complaining of Mercedes domination just after 5 races, while McLaren won 15 out of 16 races on year 1988? Anyone here watched f1 during year 1988 and are you sleeping during the race?

  16. The problem is the dominance and as a result predictable and boring races.
    I think the solution would be easy. I think F1 should introduce Plus Weight Per Points system (for example +20dkg/point or ~+0,5 pound/point, less or more).
    Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of Plus Weight Per Point system in short term. (+20dkg/point, less or more. It means if a driver has 10 points he has to carry +2kg as a minimum weight for the car.)
    Advantages: 1. Less differences between cars in lap time and close racing. 2. Fast, cheap, simple, effective solution. 3. We don’t need unification or freeze development 4. Finally the best team wins.
    Disadvantages: 1. Unfair? I don’t think (or partly) because finally win the best and if you have the best team and car you have to work harder to remain the best.
    Or at least this +weight/points system should be tested in smaller categories.

  17. Yuriy Kvartsyanyy
    20th May 2019, 17:55

    I would live to see them win all races. They are at very best as a team and drivers while pushing still respecting each other. This will be totally deserved.

  18. Winning all races is possible however it means they can not have bad luck with both cars in any races. With the emphasis on bad luck on BOTH cars. As long as there is one merc left in the race chances are it will win.

  19. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
    20th May 2019, 20:14

    I seem to be one of the only ones thinking this season will later liven up … lots of people seem to be writing it off as a Mercedes white-wash already. I know Mercedes are looking very strong at this stage and are very likely to win both championships, but I still believe that Ferrari haven’t unlocked their full potential. Not only did their car look quick in pre-season testing but it also looked effortless to drive in comparison to the Mercedes. Ferrari seemed to be heading for a 1-2 in Bahrain (a win at least) and arguably should have been in contention in Baku had Leclerc not crashed in qualifying. One of their main issues seems to be finding the ideal window for the tyres.

    Whilst 5 consecutive 1-2’s is indeed impressive, I don’t believe it fully reflects Mercedes’ true dominance in terms of pace advantage and the fact that Ferrari could have won 2 of those 5 races … but motorsport is always about those “what if’s”. It’s still a long season ahead and whilst I think Hamilton will wrap up his 6th world title and Mercedes will once again win the constructors, I am positive that Mercedes will not win all 21 races this year. They appear flawless at the moment but all it takes is some poor reliability, some contact, variable conditions and a race can easily turn on its head. I believe Ferrari will win multiple races this season (4 or 5) and I would not be surprised if Verstappen wins 1 or 2 … at which tracks however, I do not know.

    1. @invincibleisaac Not the only one. It’s Peter Windsor’s view too.

  20. Brian Robson
    20th May 2019, 21:58

    I am finding it hard this season to stay interested. It all looks too comfortable for Mercedes .

  21. Well, I personally think that the 5-0 was just a lucky streak and that Mercedes-Brackley understand this all too well. They need more to win this WDC-WCC then this. Ferrari will come back with a vengeance and Mercedes knows this, while it’s now all hands on deck for the team. Binotto is no playing the Wolff fiddle, so watch out ! This season will get very interesting ! I personally think Ferrari has got it right, but needs only a few minor tweaks.

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