Earlier in the Formula One season, Lewis Hamilton indisputably established himself as one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport by equalling Michael Schumacher’s win record. Claiming first place in the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix – in Germany, no less – the English driver arrived on 91 wins in what’s turning out to be another dominant season for his car’s manufacturers, Mercedes.
With Hamilton behind the wheel, Mercedes have dominated the sport for the last six years, with their own engine powering their incredible chassis. However, has all of this success come more as a result of Hamilton’s driving or the expertise put into the F1 car each year?
Experts often side with a Mercedes triumph
At the start of the season, Red Bull and Max Verstappen were often thrown into the conversation as dark-horse contenders to usurp Mercedes and Hamilton. Even former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, now with Renault, was thrown in as an outside shot. However, as the season progressed, it became ever more apparent that the reigning champions were the favorites for yet another Constructors’-Drivers’ world championship double.
Now, for any of the remaining F1 meets, you’ll always find Hamilton ahead in the sports betting, often with Valtteri Bottas given the odds of the second-favorite. This is, perhaps, the most telling factor, as not only is Hamilton a clear favorite, but his teammate invariably ranks second. So, even if Hamilton weren’t at the top of the odds, a Mercedes driver would be favored to win the race.
It’s tough to argue with the ratings, especially when you consider the win rate of the German constructors this year. Through the first 11 races of the 2020 F1 campaign, taking place in Austria, Hungary, Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Russia, and Germany, Mercedes drivers claimed nine victories.
Only the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Italian Grand Prix didn’t finish with a Mercedes driver atop the race day standings. Furthermore, only four of those races ended without both Hamilton and Bottas on the podium at all.
Of course, driving talent makes up a considerable part of a team’s success, particularly in the more challenging cars. However, as Hamilton and Bottas are consistently favored above all others in the F1 odds, it stands to reason that the Mercedes car is rated well above the rest.
A top-class car that allows for mistakes
Ever since the 1.6-liter V6 turbo hybrid era commenced in 2014, Mercedes has been unstoppable. The level of success of the team since 2014 has even exceeded that of the 2000 to 2004 Ferrari team, holding a win rate in excess of 75 percent according to The Race, compared to the legendary Italian team’s 67 percent.
Despite their ongoing dominance, Mercedes has rarely entered the season rated as the best car in all regards. For example, over the last couple of seasons, Ferrari has been labeled the fastest car, at least down the straights. Even this season, they’re meant to be quicker around the corners, but it’s Mercedes’ build that continues to reign supreme.
A lot of this has been put down to the combination of the car’s unrivaled aerodynamics which, even though the others may be faster, allows drivers to make slight mistakes without it costing the run. Their W11 design is the best of the best right now, and while Mercedes has hired a couple of very experienced and talented drivers, the car does allow them to have off days and still stay on top of the competition.
Some would argue that Max Verstappen’s ability to handle the knife-edge precision required to get the most out of the Red Bull makes him the best driver in F1. However, the combination of Mercedes’ design and Hamilton’s class continues to bring in wins and championships.