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A History of Team Dominance in Formula One

Written by Ellie Nicholls, Edited by Debargha Banerjee

Image Credits: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Just five races into the 2023 season and Red Bull find themselves over 100 points clear of Aston Martin, their closest rivals in the championship, having won every race from Bahrain to Miami- as well as claiming second place on four of those occasions too.

But, after winning 17 of the 22 races in 2022 by fairly significant margins, it is hardly surprising that their success has continued into this year.

Seeing Red Bull double podiums, frustrating as it may be for fans of other teams, is proof of not only the incredible talent of both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, but it also shows just how dominant the RB19 is- Lewis Hamilton even going as far as to say that it is the fastest car he’s ever seen.

Some people may feel that it’s getting slightly boring to watch the same team winning all the races, and that the sport would benefit from a more level playing field- but, looking back through Formula One history, periods of team dominance aren’t as unusual as you might expect.

Image Credits: Darren Heath/Getty Images

In fact, Red Bull themselves had a similar period of dominance just ten years ago, between 2011 and 2013. Their two drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, led the team to victory in the constructor’s championship across those four years, with Vettel winning four consecutive driver’s titles.

Their most successful season during this time was 2013, where the Austrian team won 13 of 19 races. What was most impressive about this season was that Vettel, after several disappointing results and retirements early on in the season, went on to win the last nine races, the longest unbroken winning streak to date.

However, 2014 saw a revised engine formula introduced to the sport, changing from V8 to V6 engines, and the Renault supplier that brought so much success to Red Bull for the past four years became unreliable, and their success came to a halt.

While the introduction of these new regulations meant bad news for Red Bull, it allowed Mercedes to enter their own period of dominance.

Between 2014 and 2020, the German team won both the drivers and constructors championship every year, and out of a total 136 races across those seven seasons, they won an impressive 101.

Their most dominant season was 2016 in which they won 19 of 21 races and had 13 double podiums, with both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton getting points in every race they actually finished. Their only real ‘challenge’ of the season was the rivalry between the two drivers- a heated championship fight that concluded with Rosberg winning the title and subsequently retiring.

Image Credits: Peter J Fox/Getty Images

In the same season, the only races not won by Mercedes were won by Sebastian Vettel, driving then for Ferrari- arguably the most successful F1 team of all time, with 16 constructors championships and 15 driver’s championships since 1950.

Their most dominant era was from 2000 to 2004, with Michael Schumacher winning five titles in a row and breaking Juan Manuel Fangio’s record to become the first seven-time world champion.

In 2004, Schumacher’s final and most impressive season with the team, the German driver won 12 of the first 13 races, winning the driver’s title four races before the end of the season. A combination of pace and reliability meant Ferrari easily beat rivals Williams and McLaren, finishing first in the constructors’ championship by a significant margin.

It’s fair to say that the Italian team have had their share of dominant seasons- but an early season that stands out in particular is 1952.

During that season, Ferrari won all of the races except for the Indy 500, with their driver Alberto Ascari finishing first in the last six races. Although there wasn’t a constructor’s championship until 1958, Ferrari surely would have won it that year with what is still arguably their most impressive season even 70 years later.

Image Credits: Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images

However, even the success of the 1952 Ferrari is modest in comparison to the triumph of the 1988 McLaren- the most successful Formula One car of all time by win rate.

McLaren was a very successful team throughout the late 80s and early 90s and Alain Prost, who had already won two championships with McLaren, was joined by Ayrton Senna for the 1988 season. Between them, they won all but one of the 16 races and easily claimed the constructor’s trophy, with Senna ultimately winning his first championship that year by just three points.

Whether McLaren’s 1988 success was down to the car or the raw talent of both of their drivers, it is undeniable that this was a record-breaking season- but considering the impressive start Red Bull have had to the 2023 season, could they be set to equal or even break this record?

1 comment

1 Comment

May 18, 2023

Its worth being reminded that Mclaren were very much aided by being right at the end of the first turbo era, they under Ron Dennis pressed on right to the end of that era producing the dominant MP4/4. Almost every other team had diverted significant resources to preparing for 1989 or in some cases even started racing their new non turbo spec cars. From memory it was only really Mclaren and Ferrari producing turbo cars, competitive ones anyway, even Ferrari lost interest in 1988 by mid season. So it was a great display indeed by Mclaren and they carried this excellence through into the early 90s very well, but 1988 was pretty easy pickings for them.

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