One horse championships


Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
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In light of Mercedes season long domination as a constructor I thought it would be interesting to look back at every constructors title since its inception in 1958 a run some numbers.

Given the different scoring systems used in F1 and the different ways that the constructors championship has been calculated, I though the best method of general comparison was to calculate the percentage of points of the champions total scored by the second placed team.

Especially in view of the last 14 or so years containing many seasons which have been dominated by a single team, over all the results were quite interesting.

I have used the official results after any dropped points if they were used to calculate the championship. The result for 07 is as published i.e. with BMW in second.

The constructors championship has been calculated using 3 main methods. Firstly, from 58 until 67 only the best car finish was used to accumulate points and only a percentage (normally 5 or 6 out of the total) of the races per season counted. From 68 until 78, still only 1 car could score but the season was split in to two halves and the worst result from each half was dropped. Finally from 79 onward both cars scored points and there were no dropped races or results.

To that end, the top 10 most dominant seasons for a winning team were as follows:

1988 - 33% (Winners - McLaren)
1984 - 40% (Winners - McLaren)
1996 - 40% (Winners - Williams)
2002 - 42% (Winners - Ferrari)
2004 - 45% (Winners - Ferrari)
1971 - 49% (Winners - Tyrrell)
2007 - 49% (Winners - Ferrari)
1993 - 50% (Winners - Williams)
1989 - 53% (Winners - McLaren)
1980 - 55% (Winners - Williams)
1987 - 55% (Winners - Williams)

What's interesting here is how many of that top ten would be regarded as classic seasons. The only exceptions I would suggest would be 71, 02 and 04. If we look at the remainder however, the one thing that sticks out is that despite the domination of one team, there was a hard fought battle for the title between two or more drivers for the title. Senna v Prost, Hill v Schumacher and so on.

As of the end of the Russian GP Red Bull currently have 61% of Mercedes points which puts them behind Ferrari in 2000 (56%) and Red Bull in 2013 (60%).

At the other end of the scale. The most competitive constructors championships were:

2006 - 98% (Winners - Renault)
1999 - 97% (Winners - Ferrari)
2005 - 95% (Winners - Renault)
1964 - 94% (Winners - Ferrari)
1982 - 93% (Winners - Ferrari)
1985 - 91% (Winners - McLaren)
2003 - 91% (Winners - Ferrari)
2010 - 91% (Winners - Red Bull)
1990 - 90% (Winners - McLaren)
1991 - 90% (Winners - McLaren)

Again, we have some classic seasons on this list.

I think what it highlights is that it doesn't generally matter what the constructors championship is doing as long as there are two or more drivers in a close fight to the finish. I think that, above all else is what tarnishes 2002 and 2004.

If anyone wants an individual year I've done the lot so just ask.
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In how many of the seasons shown, how many times did the WCC winner score 1-2 finishes. To me, that is what makes for dull seasons and pretty much makes the WDC irrelevant, since the car was so obviously superior.
If the 2007 result had stood, Ferrari would have won the title and McLaren would have had 99.5% of their points.

2008 was a rather middle of the road Ferrari win with McLaren having 88% of their total.
The biggest difference between the championships in the 80s and 90s and now is reliability. In the 80s, there was generally about a 50% attrition rate in each race, even among the top teams. Now it is getting perilously close to 0%.

One of the telltales to me that a championship is due overwhelmingly to car superiority is shown by the 1992 season, where you had Patrese in second place in the WDC, ahead of Senna and Schumacher!!!!! Since he had never before born comparison with the latter 2, his august position in that years tally was clearly the result of overwhelming car superiority.

The only reason IMO, that Williams didn't win every race that year was due to unreliability.
I agree siffert_fan. Reliability added an element of the unknown. To finish first, first you had to finish and all that. Because of the limit on revs, the number of engines and gearboxes etc. Nothing is run to the max anymore removing another layer of unpredictability to the whole thing.
What also skews the data is that, undeniably in 1988, and arguably also in 1984, McLaren had the two best drivers in F1. That would serve mightily to pad their margin of superiority over the other teams at that time.

I don't think that any team since them could claim the same superiority of their driver pair. Certainly no team in the last five years could boast such an advantage.
And along with that though, the battle between Prost / Lauda and Prost / Senna meant that both 84 and 88 can be regarded as great seasons despite the superiority of the cars involved.
Actually the biggest difference is that in other seasons if a team had a dominant car at the start of the season at least the other teams had a chance of catching up with testing weeks and engine improvements now if a team starts with a dominant car the other teams have Bob Hope of catching up, and that is what makes it boring..
What a fantastic Championship we've had so far this year. So many twists and turns, and it's far from over.

Interesting figures cider_and_toast . Really shows that despite the consistently boring protestations from two boring old blokes, we've seen far more dominant campaigns in the past.

The 1-2 theory is complete rubbish when you have teammates that are actually racing each other, which is why some of the most dominant seasons have been classics. I would much rather see a dominant season where two teammates fight each other instead of the complete and utter walkover that was 2013, which by this metric was actually a more dominant constructor campaign than this one.

And about those 50% - 0% DNF figures. Just so factually inaccurate. I mean not even close. But then that's pretty much par for the course. Nonsense as usual.
One of the telltales to me that a championship is due overwhelmingly to car superiority

That can be skewed by other things though, such as presence of Mark Webber, managing to finish 3rd to Alonso last year, for example.

If you think of the quality of second drivers, from that top 10, only Barrichello and arguably Villeneuve were poor. I'm ignoring 2007, of course.
siffert_fan I posted this in the Mercedes thread yesterday:
Mercedes only need one more one-two to match, or two more to beat, the all time record for the number of one-twos in a season (currently held by McLaren with 10 in 1988). Similarly, they are two wins away from matching the record for total number of wins in a season (again McLaren in 1988, with 15 wins).

cider_and_toast One thing that might be important to consider is that the various different points systems give a different percentage of points available for the second best team. For example, in a simplified case where the team that won the constructors championship finished 1-2 in every race, and the team that finished second in the constructors championship finished 3rd and 4th in every race for the different points systems you have:

Pre-1991 (9,6,4,3,2,1): 2nd place team gets 47% of points
1991-2002 (10,6,4,3,2,1): 2nd place team gets 44% of points
2003-2009 (10,8,6,5,4,3,2,1): 2nd place team gets 61% of points
2010-2013 (25,18,15,12,10,8,6,4,2,1): 2nd place team gets 63% of points

Although this is a very simplified scenario, I think it suggests it's harder for a team to win by a large percentage over their nearest rival in the points systems after 2002, which might be a factor in explaining why those years only appear twice in your top 10 (one of which because of McLaren's disqualification in 2007).

The other factor is the much improved reliability, which has already been mentioned. It's not immediately clear to me whether this makes it easier or harder to win by a large margin, I'd have to think about it.
Hill vs Schumacher was 1994. 1996 was Hill vs Villeneuve which is arguably a classic season, though not for the racing. It was more of a history making (Hill son of a Champion becomes a Champion), Murray Walker has kittens, Britain has kittens, festival type season.
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sushifiesta, you've made a good point about the different points systems but I ran the figures for every year since 1958 (yes I had nothing better to do last night :) ) and the percentage margins are generally consistent all the way through. The pre-78 results are affected by the points only being taken from the highest finishing car and that a number of races were dropped. There are a number of variables that effect the over all result.

That's why I chose to show the top and bottom 10 as these are the furthers out from the average and therefore I would guess they are more statistically significant.

What I will do is have another look at it this evening and run the numbers for the top and bottom ten based on one scoreing system (for ease I will use the current one) which should give us a better idea.
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cider_and_toast Cool, that would be interesting. Mainly I was just expecting Mercedes this year and Red Bull in either 2011 or 2013 to be right up there. Also, it's probably just a coincidence but but the numbers you quoted for 2013 and 2014 are very close to the 60% ish numbers I get from my stupid back of the envelope calculation as a ball park figure for a dominant team.

Points won as a fraction of the total possible might also be interesting, although that will still be affected by points system and in particular by reliability. Maybe just considering the best result from one of the drivers at each grand prix would get around that a bit. However, these suggestions are much easier said than done... it takes 10 seconds to come up with an idea but 10 weeks to get the answer sometimes...

At the end of the season I'll also try to update my in-season development series of threads which, in qualifying in particular, gives quite a good idea of the margin of car advantage over the last few years.
The initial aim was to show some ball park figures that can withstand some comparison which I think they do in general terms.

Thanks for the suggestions. As there seems to be a good deal of interest in the data, I'll have another look at it this evening and see if I can freshen it up a bit and remove some of the variables.
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