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Formula 1

Hamilton be warned: how these periods of F1 dominance came to an end

During periods of dominance in any sport, it can feel as if there is no end in sight. With Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team enjoying a period of unparalleled success in Formula 1, we ask - how exactly did previous dynasties fall?

Hamilton kampioen 2020
To news overview © Mercedes

Ayrton Senna (1992)

Quite simply, the late 1980s belonged to McLaren. While Senna didn't win the world championship in every season between 1988 and 1991 (his team-mate Alain Prost would triumph in 1989) the Brazilian was unquestionably the best driver during this period.

For a moment in time, the McLaren/Senna/Honda partnership looked unstoppable. That was, however, until a rival team fought back with a revolutionary innovation that left Ron Dennis' McLaren firmly in their wake. Williams' active suspension gave them a huge advantage in the 1992 season, helping power Nigel Mansell to his first and only drivers world title.

Senna showed his true quality by managing to win three races in a car that was off the pace all season. He also finished fourth in the drivers standings, rather ominously behind Benetton's rising star - Michael Schumacher.

Michael Schumacher (2005)

When reflecting on Formula 1 in the early 2000s, it's hard not to picture Michael Schumacher driving his famous scarlet Ferrari to win after win. The German won five world championships in a row between 2000 and 2004 - the last of which was his most dominant yet, where he would set a new F1 record thanks to 13 wins in a single season.

The F2004 was one of the most dominant cars of all time, piloted by an all-time great who was at the very peak of his powers. For many, it must have felt as if the Ferrari strangehold on both championships was never going to end, as neither McLaren nor Williams seemed capable of producing a worthy challenger.

Ultimately, the Schumacher era was ended by a combination of regulation changes, and the ascension of a certain Fernando Alonso. In 2005, a set of tyres had to last for an entire race, something that Ferrari's tyre manufacturer, Bridgestone, struggled to adapt to. Schumacher and Ferrari would end 2005 with just one win to their name, that being the farcical US Grand Prix where only six drivers started the race.

Sebastian Vettel (2014)

In recent history, F1 has the rather unfortunate habit of replacing one dominant era with another. While at Red Bull, Vettel won every drivers world title between 2010 and 2013, and just like Michael previously, he too would take home 13 wins in his final championship season. If the V10 era belonged to Schumacher, the V6 epoch was defined by his successor's unparalleled brilliance.

Once again, the only thing capable of stopping Sebastian in his tracks was a complete overhaul of the F1 regulations. In 2014, the hybrid era began and almost immediately it became clear that Red Bull were no longer the benchmark. Mercedes aced the regulations, while Christian Horner's team were let down by an inferior Renault powertrain.

To make matters worse for the German, he was paired alongside Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull that season, who would consistently outperform his more experienced team-mate.


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