Open season or return of the status quo?


Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
So most of us will describe Pastor Maldonado’s win for Williams in Spain as a shock victory right? But should we really be that surprised? On top of which 5 winners, 5 constructors? Blimey this F1 year is so amazingly different from anything we’ve seen before! Is it really? If you take a closer look at who the constructors are though you may see its not that surprising and maybe we all should have expected it.

Between 1970 and 2008 only 7 teams have carried a driver to the world drivers championship. 2 of those teams, Brabahm and Lotus(lets not get into the name thing), met an untimely death in the early 90’s. The other 5, although with a few name changes, still exist and whilst all of them go up and down in cycles until 2009 they were always pretty much the top 5 teams. When I started watching F1 in 1990 they were literally the top 5 teams. Mclaren and Ferrari lead the way, Williams and Benneton were close behind and Tyrell with Jean Alesi at the wheel played the interloper. After 1990 Ferrari fell into a dip they didn’t really recover from until 1997 whilst Williams went on a surge of dominance . After 1993 Mclaren went on a dip they didn’t really recover from until 1998. Benneton came to the fore in 1994 but floundered again by 1998. Williams lost their Renault engines in 1998 and drifted towards the back again only to return as front runners by 2001 time. Benetton became Renault and came back to being the top team again as we reach 2005 and at the same time a Mclaren resurgence began as a Williams dip started. For 18 years it pretty much went in a cycle and I’m sure those who know the 80’s period better than me will see the pattern their as well.

Tyrell are the only oddity in this as they had a dip that started in 1992 and it looked like no recovery would happen and interlopers like Sauber and Jordan mixed it up with the other 4. The team were bought out in 1998 and it still took time for a rebuild although by 2000 they were F1’s 5th team again. 2003 saw them claim that title again and in 2004 they took 2nd in the constructors and the Tyrell team, all be it named differently were back on an up turn and whilst they dipped again when Honda took over they still earned their place in the top 5.

The 2009 was a watershed year as we had the biggest regulation changes the sport had seen in a massive amount of time and it really did course a shake up as the big teams didn’t anticipate it. The team originally known as Tyrell, Brawn dealt with it best and hit the front but its main challenges were 2 interlopers Red Bull and Toyota and whilst Toyota slipped away Red Bull very much decided it was here to stay. Mclaren and Ferrari made very quick recoveries from the early 2009 set backs but its fellow big 4 teams Williams and Renault really didn’t. Their seemed to be a new world order of Red Bull, Ferrari, Mclaren and Mercedes (another Tyrell name change!) but this season is starting to show that we were all very early in predicting their demise.

Williams went 7 season without a victory which is a long period but lets remember both Ferrari and Mclaren had a period of 3 seasons without a win and Benneton went 6. Lets remember that the guys at the Tyrell factory in Surrey waited 20 season’s between victories! Should we really be shocked that once Williams established a stable backstaff, stable finances and, most importantly, finally got themselves the first reliable engine supplier since BMW that they should be able to build themselves a competitive car? On top of that should we really be surprised that now the newly named Lotus team have sorted out their management and ownership issues that they suddenly have a driver line up and a car thats at the front? Both of these teams have been consistently at the front of F1 racing for 20 years and the structure in the teams have always been there for them to continue to do so. If you look at all the ‘dip’ periods for the top teams I listed earlier you will see something that happened to the team that unsettled them, either a loss of an engine, driver or staff member that has taken them a few seasons to recover from. Williams and the now Lotus team just happened to be in rebuild when 2009 struck hence why its taken them slightly longer to recover than it usually did.

So is it me or is this brand new open ‘anyone can win’ F1 actually just the status quo reasserting itself?
Tyrell are the only oddity in this as they had a dip that started in 1992 and it looked like no recovery would happen and interlopers like Sauber and Jordan mixed it up with the other 4. The team were bought out in 1998 and it still took time for a rebuild although by 2000 they were F1’s 5th team again.

Great post, but I draw a little exception to the discussion of continuity from Tyrrell - BAR - Honda - Brawn.

Essentially, BAR was a new team, with a new factory, and a new workforce when it was founded, but they bought Tyrrell to essentially give them an entry... Yes, there was some carry over DNA, but this really was minimal, as the BAR team was having cars built by Reynard. (I'd also say that Tyrrell's dip began in 1973....)

However, I would absolutely agree that there have been powerhouses of domination in F1 over the last 30 years, but I would go as far as saying that these only consist of Williams, McLaren and Ferrari, with the odd interloper coming in - personally, I would even class Benetton in the interloper class, despite their 4 titles!

Actually, if we look at the WDC in each decade:

1980 - 1989:
McLaren 5
Williams 3
Brabham 2

1990 - 1999
McLaren 4
Williams 4
Benetton 2

2000 - 2009
Ferrari 6
McLaren 1
Benetton (Renault) 2
Brawn 1

2010 - Present
Red Bull 2
The Artist..... I think you meant to put Brabham as having 2 titles in the 80's right? I do take your point about Benneton but with 46 victories over a 25 year period I think its about time they're excepted as one of the big boys. To put them on the same par as your Jordan's, Sauber and even your Red Bulls would be a bit insulting to their longevity in the sport.

I'm not sure about the Tyrell argument. As far as I was aware BAR took over the Tyrell factory and therefore as far as I was concerned the team continues with Tyrell DNA. Certainly it was true that Ross Brawn was on the verge on naming the team Tyrell in 2009 so the rights must still sit with them.
It probably doesn't make an awful lot of difference, except in one respect: in the old days it was pretty much the norm to have established number one and two drivers. In the eighties that began to change but some teams like Brabham and Lotus carried on with the old way while others preferred having two star drivers in their ranks, and those were always likely to get more WCC points. Ferrari for example had two constructors titles in the eighties, while you have to go back nearly half a century to see Brabham world champions, despite the two titles Piquet won for himself.
For Benetton/Renault, it always seems a little odd describing them as big teams, simply because they've only really been challenging for the title in 4 years out of the last 30... (And won them all!) They certainly have shown great heights, and consistency, but have also shown horrendous troughs....(2001 anyone?)

RasputinLives - the issue with Tyrrell/BAR is that essentially, BAR set up a new factory for the 1999 season, which was populated by some of the Tyrrell staff, but on the whole they went on a massive recruitment drive. Certainly, the design team were not carried over in their entirety. In fact, I know that BAR ran Tyrrell for the 1998 season from the old factory, but I suspect that the entry in F1 was worth more than the price they paid for Tyrrell! (Whilst BAR/Brawn/Merc may share some DNA with Tyrrell, i'd argue that they are 5th cousins, twice removed rather than direct descendants)
I hate to take you up on this RasputinLives, but there's a fly in your ointment.

The 5 teams who have won a race are not the 5 you refer to. The 5 to win a race this year, in their rawest forms, are McLaren, Ferrari, Tyrrell, Stewart and Williams. Enstone currently do not have a victory.

I think it is so tight it is untrue, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Sauber take a win this year.
No fly TBY I was suggesting that Williams, Tyrell and the Enstone team's resurgence has whats opened up the field and while it seems surprising after the last few years to see these teams up their with the Mclaren's Ferrari's and Red Bulls. The point of my article is that rather than shocking and a sudden change its more a case of the old guard strike back and if the Enstone team don't at least win one Grand Prix this season I will eat my avatar!

Oh and I mentioned Sauber and Jordan as interlopers over the years which means I'm covered if Sauber and Force India grab a win too ;)
In 1999 more of the ex-Tyrrell staff ended up at Benetton, I believe, not BAR. The difference in facilities between Ockham and Brackley was...marked. So I would agree with The Artist..... on this one.

Of course teams that have a history of winning in the past are more likely to win in the future. Staff retention and recruitment, finance, sponsorship all feed from this. It is just surprising that so many teams should decide to have their renaissance simultaneously!

As for the ex-Toleman entity, they may not have won a huge number of titles, but they've been consistent finishers in the top four of the championship or thereabouts. Arguably they are a semi-powerhouse?
One of the best things about Formula one for me is that when it starts to become dominated by a single team, the emergence of red bull for example the powers that be (The rule makers.) get together and say how can we change this and so they change the rules to level the playing field again and so we don't just sit there getting bored of seeing somebodies finger week in week out.

Someone on another thread said that they changed the rules in 2003 and 2005 to try and stop Schumacher from winning the championship but the fact is rule changes are nothing new when F1 becomes stale and uninteresting.

So yes in a very good way the status quo has been resumed.

Vive le rule changes.

The 5 teams who have won a race are not the 5 you refer to. The 5 to win a race this year, in their rawest forms, are McLaren, Ferrari, Tyrrell, Stewart and Williams. Enstone currently do not have a victory.

I'm lazy today, so could somebody draw the heritage line for Stewart, the same way it was done for Tyrell

I.e. Tyrell - BAR - Brawn - Merc

Excellent thread!
Mephistopheles in the past this has been true but all that changed when in season testing was banned. in actual fact this current renassiance has come about because of no rule changes! The likes of Williams, Enstone and Merc have caught up because they've had more time to perfect the cars in current format. Red Bull had a headstart because they got it right first and the other teams have only had limited time to catch up with them this current mix match is due to the teams that didn't get it right the first time being able to get back in the mix due to track and development time.

Of course the tyres are playing a factor but once again figuring out how to make the cars work with different tyres again takes track time.
I do love the uncertainty. It's like the second half of 2009 again!

However, its probably created by the poor strategies on what appear to be the 4 fastest cars.

No, Tyrrell were a race team in the junior formulae back into the 1960s. March were established as a new team in 1970, and Tyrrell (who were short of a chassis supplier after Matra's withdrawal, and not yet ready to build their own) were one of their customers for that season. The partnership was not a success.
Wasn't Ken Tyrrell Team principle of Matra international ? before he was asked to use the ford v12 but Stewart preferred the DFV so as there was some conflict between Ford, Elf and Renault regarding sponsorship Ken decided to use a March 701 whilst he was developing his own car?

Or something like that..
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