It’s only natural, then, that during most seasons there will be a team that is more successful than all its peers. One car can easily end up winning four, five, six or even more races than any other car in the field, making the constructors’ championship a forgone conclusion.
But sometimes, those teams can continue to enjoy success year after year, hoarding wins and titles for multiple seasons in succession and leaving other teams scrambling to try and somehow catch up. Over the last 40 years, this level of domination by a single team – and even a single driver – is something Formula 1 has seen time and time again.
In the late eighties to early nineties, McLaren reigned supreme. McLaren’s 1988 season with the MP4-4 – arguably the most dominant car of all time – won all but one of that year’s races. Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna secured four successive drivers and constructors’ championship titles for McLaren between 1988 and 1991.
As the nineties came to an end, the era of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher well and truly began. The pair utterly dominated Formula 1 between 2000 and 2004, winning five consecutive titles together and becoming the most successful team and driver F1 had ever seen up to that point. After an off year in 2005, Schumacher fought for an eighth title in 2006, but was ultimately beaten by Fernando Alonso.
With the introduction of major technical regulation changes for 2009, Red Bull suddenly became a major force at the front of the grid. Sebastian Vettel claimed his first world title at the end of a dramatic season in 2010, but then he and Red Bull were simply unstoppable across 2011 and 2013. The combination took the titles for four straight years before the advent of the V6 turbo formula brought their reign to an end.
Instead, 2014 signalled the start of the Mercedes era. From that season up to 2021, Mercedes won eight consecutive constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ titles – with Lewis Hamilton taking six of them and Nico Rosberg the 2016 championship. Now, however, Red Bull appear to be back on top, with Max Verstappen winning the last two drivers’ titles and the RB19 looking unstoppable in the early rounds of the season.
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Does domination turn away viewers?
But every time one team rises to become the clear, undisputed number one, there are inevitable complaints about how domination risks damaging the sport. Intrigue in every sport thrives on the unknown and unexpected, and knowing who will win before the race weekend begins can rob a race of tension and excitement before it has even begun.
A raft of rule changes were brought into the sport in the midst of the Schumacher years in a bid to shake up grids and inject more unpredictability into F1 as a direct result of Ferrari’s dominance. At the height of Mercedes’ dominant period, team principal Toto Wolff admitted long-term dominance by any team “damages the spectacle” of the sport.
However, despite Hamilton and Mercedes sweeping up record numbers of race wins on their way to becoming the most successful team and driver combination in F1 history, viewing figures began increasing in spite of their constant winning. At the moment, F1 continues to enjoy some of the strongest viewership figures it has ever had – including an all-time high in the United States.
But how does domination affect your viewership and interest in Formula 1? Have you ever been turned off the sport by same the same faces on top of the podium week after week, have you actually been drawn further into the sport by a team performing at a clearly higher level than all of their rivals? Or does it make no difference to your interest in F1 either way?
Have your say by voting in this week’s poll and sharing your views in the comments below.
How has the dominance of a team in Formula 1 previously affected your viewership?
- My F1 viewership greatly increased due to one team dominating (1%)
- My F1 viewership slightly increased due to one team dominating (1%)
- My F1 viewership has been unaffected by one team dominating (56%)
- My F1 viewership slightly reduced due to one team dominating (28%)
- My F1 viewership greatly reduced due to one team dominating (14%)
Total Voters: 177
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