Are Mercedes enjoying the best dynasty ever?
After 5 years of continued success, this period of dominance will go down in history
With five races to go in the 2018 Formula One Season, Mercedes are once again on the brink of success. With Lewis Hamilton holding a commanding lead in the Drivers' Championship and Mercedes 53 points clear in the Constructors', Mercedes stand a very good chance of winning both championships for a 5th straight year. This has only been achieved once before when Ferrari and Schumacher did it between 2000 and 2004.
Ferrari in the early noughties is perhaps the go-to answer when pressed about the most dominant, extended period of time in F1. Six straight Constructors' championships, five straight drivers' championships, Schumacher dominating races. The culture of winning that was created by the team couldn't be matched and in the five year period between 2000 and 2004, they won a massive 67% of the races.
Ferrari enjoyed plenty of success in the early noughties
Whilst there have been other periods of dominance in F1, none have quite been able to compete with the level Ferrari were at. The McLaren's spell in the mid 80s to the early 90s had the longevity, but of those years it was only 1988 and 1989 that were truly dominant. Red Bull won both championships four years in a row, but two of those years saw the Drivers' championship come down to the final race.
Now there's a Mercedes dynasty on the block, and it could be even better than Ferrari's. Ferrari's 67% win percentage between 2000 and 2004 is eclipsed by Mercedes who have won 75% of their races between 2014 and 2018. That figure has come down in the last two years as Ferrari have come back with a vengeance, but it's still 8% ahead.
Parallels between the two can be drawn very easily. Both had their years where no one could touch them. 2001, 2002 and 2004 were forgone conclusions for Ferrari, as were 2014, 2015 and 2016 for Mercedes. There's also been years where they have won despite adversity. Schumacher won the 2003 championship by just two points and Ferrari stuck with Mercedes in 2017 before the latter finally pulled clear.
Both dynasties faced adversity, but overcame it
The mentality is remarkably similar too, the culture that Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Michael Schumacher and co created is one of 'win at at costs', it didn't matter how it was done, as long as it got done.
Mercedes have developed something along the same lines. The team did allow Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to race each other on track, but only when it was safe to do so. Mercedes knew that incidents like the ones at Spain (2016), Belgium (2014) and Austria (2016) would not come back to bite them.
Now a viable challenger has appeared, they won't risk something like that happening again. The team orders at Russia were as clinical as Ferrari in Austria, 2002. There was no doubt as to what was happening, after the race Toto Wolff was deaf to the backlash. He knew he had made the right call and that's all that mattered. Rightly so. In both dynasties, there is no hesitation over the way things are done.
For argument's sake, let's say Mercedes do win both championships this year. It will mean that in 2019 they will be chasing six consecutive double championship wins which is unchartered territory. Mercedes could be set to break multiple records before their time at the top is over.
Naturally all runs at the top come to an end eventually, after Ferrari's years of winning came to an end in 2005, they've enjoyed just one drivers' championship and two constructors championships. The time for Mercedes reign to end will happen too. The question is when will it happen? And what will be the cause?
In the case of Ferrari it was the emergence of Renault, buoyed by a hungry, young Spaniard. For Mercedes it could be the 2021 regulation changes, perhaps it will click at Ferrari next season, maybe the new Red Bull/Honda partnership can spring a surprise. It could be something completely different, but it will be something.
Renault was Ferrari's kryptonite. What will it be for Mercedes?
A worse-case scenario is that the dynasty ends this year for Mercedes. Even if this happens, they could make a case for having the most dominant period of all-time. However, if it carries on much further, there might be little to debate.