Five one-two finishes
into history

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Five one-two finishes in as many races. A full complement of constructors’ points, with the addition of a few extra points thanks to the bonus scores for fastest lap this year. That’s how Mercedes has started 2019, as it heads to Monaco for the sixth grand prix of the season. It’s an unprecedented situation that has already broken records.

A sport that is as complex and multi-faceted as Formula 1 is always defined by ever-increasing numbers. Results are the lifeblood of the sport, but it’s often the more nuanced numbers that tell you more. Pole positions, fastest laps, overtaking statistics and top speeds illustrate the story of a relentless search for perfection. As well as the number of one-two finishes. Because a one-two means domination. A team that manages not only to win, but secure second place as well, is leaving only crumbs on the table for everyone else. And when there are a lot of one-two finishes, the picture becomes starkly clear.

For nearly 30 years, the initial domination of just one driver at the start of the 1991 and 1992 seasons have formed a centrepiece of grand prix history. In 1991, Senna and McLaren conquered the first four races on the calendar. It came off the back of a season that hung in the balance almost to the very end, with a season-long duel between Senna and Ferrari’s Alain Prost. The title went Senna’s way on that occasion, after the Brazilian famously took out his rival at the penultimate race of the year in Japan. In 1991 a similar duel was expected, but Senna’s first four wins on the trot paved the way for a dominant season. Ferrari was nowhere, in the midst of a technical crisis, with the team firing first its principal Cesare Fiorio, and then Prost himself. The Frenchman’s employment came to an end after the penultimate race of the 1991 season, when he compared his car unfavourably to a truck…

Rather than Ferrari providing McLaren’s key opposition, the main challenge came from Williams – thanks to the English team’s excellent chassis and cutting-edge electronics, combined with a Renault engine that was the class of the field. And in the driving seat, there was Nigel Mansell. The superstar from Birmingham was on stunning form in 1992: his car was a space ship and the man driving it was both aggressive and consistent. He was practically perfect, which was how he managed to win the championship by Hungary in mid-August – a margin that wouldn’t be beaten until 10 more years had passed and the Schumacher-Ferrari era was at its height, with Michael clinching the 2002 title in France in mid-July.

For nearly 30 years, these two dominant seasons have represented the height of sporting achievement. But now Mercedes has gone even further. Not only have there been five wins up to now but also five second places – from Australia all the way to the present day. It’s been a breathtaking demolition of the opposition. Luckily )for the sake of a bit more competition) at least the second of those one-two finishes, in Bahrain, was a lucky one after Ferrari and Charles Leclerc had dominated for most of the weekend. But what came next – in China, Azerbaijan, and Spain – leaves little hope for the rivals of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

So Mercedes can expect a lot from this 2019 season. The Anglo-German team has wrapped up both championships without putting a foot wrong since 2014, and a sixth consecutive conquest of both titles would make it the most successful squad ever. Even the seemingly unbeatable Italian armada of Schumacher and Ferrari could ‘only’ manage six manufacturers’ titles and five driver titles between 1999 and 2004. As it targets six consecutive monopolies of the world titles, Mercedes is on the brink of making history. And that momentous milestone is drawing ever-closer…

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