The enduring dominance of Mercedes in Formula One has almost become a monotony, with few other teams able to come anywhere close to the power and consistency of their cars. Having an F1 driving phenomenon such as Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel certainly helps, forming a tandem that has thus far seemed unbeatable. That is, until the 2021 season.
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Amongst people regularly betting on the favourite sports around, Formula One has become increasingly popular over the last few years, largely due to the greater variety of betting markets available. This includes outright markets for the Drivers Championship and Constructors’ Championship standings, with Max Verstappen at 13/10 and Red Bull now evens for the 2021 F1 titles.
Lewis Hamilton at 13/20 and Mercedes at 3/5 odds remain the current favourites, although their odds have notably lengthened after the opening rounds of the 2021 season. The coming races will go a long way towards highlighting whether the British driver can win a fifth consecutive F1 crown, while his team is also in the hunt for an unprecedented eighth championship in a row.
Since the introduction of the F1 World Constructors’ Championship in 1958, when Vanwall triumphed with Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks in their cars, no team has managed to dominate quite as Mercedes has for much of the last decade. Competing teams have always usually found a way to match or exceed the speed and consistency of the best in each era.
Ferrari became the first F1 team to win the Constructors’ Championship three seasons running, doing so between 1975 and 1977 when they had legendary Niki Lauda behind the wheel. McLaren then won four in a row between 1988 and 1991, although their stable of drivers at the time included Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, and Gerhard Berger.
Always one of the most competitive teams during the 1980s and 1990s, Williams won the Constructors’ Championship three seasons in a row between 1992 and 1994, then twice more in 1996 and 1997. Their period of dominance was only broken by Benetton in 1995 when a certain Michael Schumacher won his first Drivers’ Championship.
Of course, Schumacher went on to become the greatest F1 driver anyone had ever seen, after switching to Ferrari and helping them set a new benchmark for consistency and success. Together, the outstanding German man and the remarkable Italian machine won six championships in a row, between 1999 and 2004.
Nobody ever imagined the records of Schumacher and Ferrari would ever be beaten, although Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull certainly did their best between 2010 and 2013. This winning combination of driver and car was untouchable during that period, with Vettel and Red Bull dominating F1 through four impressive campaigns.
Nevertheless, after Lewis Hamilton proved his credentials with McLaren in 2008 and won the Drivers’ Championship, behind a Mercedes engine, it wasn’t long before the German manufacturer came knocking. Since 2014, the cars of Mercedes have utterly dominated, while Hamilton has forged his own remarkable legacy with the team, only briefly interrupted by teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016.
But now it seems that Mercedes has a genuine rival for the 2021 F1 Constructors’ Championship. Red Bull has worked hard to continue improving their cars to end Mercedes dominance, while the Renault engine is also much better and more reliable. Another big plus for the team is the podium consistency of Max Verstappen, with the flying young Dutchman hungry for success.
The talent and skill of Verstappen are reminiscent of when Hamilton first arrived at Mercedes, with Red Bull having pulled out all the stops to provide him with the most competitive car. After the opening five races of the 2021 F1 season, 23-year-old Verstappen has overtaken Hamilton at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, while Red Bull are perched at the top of the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Although still very early in the 2021 season, there is always the strong possibility that Hamilton and Mercedes will bounce back to their best. However, it’s hard to shake the sense of excitement that currently surrounds Verstappen and Red Bull, who could at long last break the dominance of their biggest rivals. This could be one of the most thrilling F1 campaigns in the modern generation of Grand Prix racing.