The Formula 1 season this year has been boring at best thanks to the dominance of Mercedes. But don’t blame the Silver Arrows for this boredom.
Entering the 21-race 2019 Formula 1 season, no season in Formula 1 history had ever begun with a team recording more than three consecutive 1-2 finishes. The last time a team started a season with three consecutive 1-2 finishes was in the 1992 season when Williams pulled if off.
With Lewis Hamilton’s victory and Valtteri Bottas’s second place finish in this season’s third race, the Chinese Grand Prix, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport became the first team to pull off this feat since Williams pulled it off 27 years ago.
This 1-2 finish for the Silver Arrows came after Bottas won the season opener, the Australian Grand Prix, over Hamilton in second place and Hamilton won the season’s second race, the Bahrain Grand Prix, over Bottas in second.
Bottas then won the season’s fourth race, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, over Hamilton in second place before Hamilton returned the favor and won the season’s fifth race, the Spanish Grand Prix, in second.
As a result, after no team had ever started a season with more than three consecutive 1-2 finishes, Mercedes have recorded five and counting to open up the 2019 season, the season that was supposed to be the most competitive season of the V6 turbo hybrid era among Mercedes, Scuderia Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, the sport’s top three teams and the three teams that have combined to win the last 123 races going back to early in the 2013 season.
Additionally, Mercedes have locked out the front row of the starting grid for four of these five races. The only race for which they did not do so was the Bahrain Grand Prix when Ferrari locked out the front row with Charles Leclerc on the pole and Sebastian Vettel in second place, but the Prancing Horse totally blew a golden opportunity to beat Mercedes in that race.
So yes, as a whole, the 2019 season has been boring. Four of the five races were decided by which Mercedes teammate emerged as the race leader on the first turn of the first lap.
But don’t blame the team that are actually performing at the expected level for this boredom.
Blame the micromanagement of Ferrari that has grown into complete and utter confusion, as was on full display throughout the entirety of the Spanish Grand Prix. Their race strategists seemingly had no idea which strategy their own drivers were on halfway through the race. Each race has effectively turned into a lackadaisical holiday for the 2017 and 2018 constructor standings runner-up to Mercedes.
Blame Ferrari’s ridiculous and entirely pointless usage of team orders in each of the season’s first three races and their hesitance to actually utilize team orders when appropriate in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Blame the media for buying into the sandbagging that everyone who knew anything about anything regarding Formula 1 was just that, sandbagging, from Mercedes in preseason testing. Blame them for hyping up the 2019 season to finally be “Ferrari’s year” after they dominated these test sessions to earn the meaningless title of “preseason favorites”.
Blame literally every other team aside of Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing for showing up to yet another Formula 1 season with cars that have absolutely no chance to win a race and in many cases no chance to even challenge for top five finishes. It has been since the 2012 season that any of the other active teams have won a race.
But don’t blame the people who are actually doing their jobs and are doing them like they are supposed to.
If anything, thank Mercedes for the fact that at least the driver championship battle is close. Hamilton has won three races so far this season while Bottas has won two after Hamilton won a combined 20 races and Bottas won a combined three races in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, which were Bottas’s first two seasons driving for the team, so it could be a whole lot more boring if not for this battle.
Hamilton currently leads the driver standings by just seven points (112 to 105) over Bottas in second place as the championship battle continues to shape up to look like that of the 2016 season, which featured Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg pipping Hamilton to the championship by just five points (385 to 380).
Will the 2019 Formula 1 season continue to be a season of boredom as far as Mercedes’ dominance is concerned? If so, don’t blame them for it, and if not, be grateful that somebody else will have finally stepped up to challenge the five-time reigning constructor champions.