McLaren driver Lando Norris has voiced that he believes the struggles of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are reassuring and refreshing for Formula 1. The team are currently running at the top of the midfield of the 2022 grid behind Ferrari and Red Bull. Gemma Cockrell comments on Norris’ views.
Between the years 2014 and 2020, the Mercedes team were an unstoppable force on the Formula 1 grid. They won every single constructor’s championship and driver’s championship available within the period, and were a comfortable distance ahead of their closest competitors at all times.
Seeing the same team win, race after race, year after year, with very little challenge, became a bit repetitive
However, some fans felt that this pattern became very boring very quickly and that it took away from the entertainment side of the sport. Seeing the same team win, race after race, year after year, with very little challenge, became a bit repetitive, predictable and, well… dull.
Fast forward to 2021, and dominance didn’t come as naturally for Mercedes. They managed to win the constructor’s championship but lost the driver’s championship to Max Verstappen of Red Bull. However, they only lost by a very slim margin, with it all coming down to the last race in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes have been well off the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull
These were the first signs that the period of Mercedes’ dominance was coming to an end, but no one could have possibly predicted the events of 2022 thus far. Mercedes have been well off the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull, leaving them in the spot of ‘best of the rest’ – better than the midfield cars of Alpine, Alfa Romeo and Haas, but unable to challenge for wins.
Hamilton himself said that Vettel and Red Bull’s dominance between 2010 and 2013 could “bore fans”, despite going on to do the same himself for the latter half of the 2010s. It is an undeniable pattern in F1 that whoever is dominating the sport is hated for that time, and then is grown to be loved once they are in a car that is unable to win.
There is no justification for hating a driver for experiencing success. However, at the same time, neither Hamilton nor Norris are wrong at all in their comments. Having the same driver win every race every week isn’t entertaining or exciting for spectators compared to there being a close championship fight until the very end of the season.
So, is the decline in Mercedes’ performance in 2022 good for the sport? Without directing any hate towards Hamilton or Mercedes, yes, it is.
It gives the other teams a glimmer of hope that they also have a chance of climbing to the top, and it keeps things unpredictable and exciting for fans. Having said this, I do not doubt that Mercedes will continue to develop and improve their car throughout the season, so don’t write them off just yet.
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