Overall, Formula 1 is on a really good path – Toto Wolff

by Sudha Sundararaj

The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team has dominated the sport from the start of the V6 Hybrid Engine-era in 2014. The team won both the constructors’ and drivers’ championship for an unprecedented sixth time in 2019.

Through the six years of dominance, except for a couple of seasons (2017 and 2018), the fight for the drivers’ championship has been centered around the two Mercedes drivers. The Brackley-based team has won 73.6 % (89 of 121 races) of all races in that six seasons. Lewis Hamilton has won five of the six drivers’ championship in that time.

Formula 1 fans have complained about the lack of competition in the early years of the hybrid era. The foregone conclusion of the winner of the race at a majority of the races many people think is seriously harming the sport. There was a similar backlash against the Red Bull Racing team during its four years of dominance (2010 – 2013).

Toto Wolff, the Team Principal of the Mercedes team, disagrees with suggestions that Formula 1 has become less attractive as a result of Mercedes’ recent domination. Wolff said that there are a number of interesting rivalries and storylines during the season that fans are watching with great interest.

Wolff elaborating on this said: “Mercedes winning a sixth championship, you can say, does this make people turn off? But the point is there was still variability and unpredictability.

“You wouldn’t know before the weekend if a Ferrari was on pole position or if a Red Bull was on pole position, whether Max Verstappen would win.

“The battle between the generations is something that is a great attraction: [Sebastian] Vettel against [Charles] Leclerc, Verstappen against [Lewis] Hamilton. This is something that attracts the audiences.

The performance gap between Mercedes and the other teams has been steadily reducing every season. Wolff cites the strong TV viewership numbers to reinforce his point.

Wolff said: “You would imagine that linear TV is something that should be quietly shrinking, and it’s not for Formula 1. It’s actually one of the few sports that is growing the audiences, whilst we are moving certain countries behind the pay wall.

“We’re looking back at the year 2019 with almost 2 billion viewers, 419 million unique viewers, almost 90 million viewers over a weekend and an average of more than 20 million live viewers for the grand prix.

“We’re the fastest growing sport on social media, even compared to all the American leagues. You can see that we’re on a good track. Liberty is doing a good job by opening up social media, which wasn’t the case before.

“These are huge numbers compared to any other sport out there. So in terms of global attraction for the sport, it’s there.”

This season will be the last season before major regulation changes come into effect in 2021. It will be interesting to see if any of the other teams can dethrone the Mercedes team.

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