Opinion: Mercedes is to Formula 1 as the Patriots are to the NFL, due for a losing season

Another season of Formula 1 racing is in the books, and each team has had plenty of moments to build on for next year.



Lewis Hamilton’s crew works on his car at a pit stop during the third practice session for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. [LOLA GOMEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Shivansh Ahuja, Photo Editor

If you take the Indy 500, make it a season-long points competition, and move it over to Europe, you have the Constructors’ Championship of Formula 1 racing. It’s the world’s highest level of open-wheel racing, and it’s a big deal.

Every race weekend in a different country, 20 drivers from 10 teams compete, with the top 10 finishers on race day earning points for themselves and their teams that culminate at the end of the season.

It can be compared to the elitism of popular U.S. sports, as the field hardly stays too competitive between years. The same teams are taking home championships, and things have to change.

Mercedes ran away with the team-coveted 2019 Constructors’ Championship for its sixth in a row, and Lewis Hamilton blasted away the competition for his sixth career Drivers’ Championship.

Here is where the top six teams ended up in the season-long Constructors’ Championship race and what might be in the cards for next season.

1. Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes won the team championship with two longtime drivers, a reliable hybrid power unit, and more money than you could imagine. Life was good this season and will be for another year.

2. Scuderia Ferrari

After underperforming through July, Ferrari saw veteran Sebastian Vettel and youngster Charles Leclerc be competitive for the podium in September — a little too competitive.

The tense dynamic climaxed in Brazil. Vettel and Leclerc seemed to take each other out, costing the team hefty points. Locked in together for another season, I’m curious to see if unity or egos prevail. 

3. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 

Impatience will be this team’s downfall. Sure, they have an absolute stud in Max Verstappen. The second-seat switch from Pierre Gasly to Alex Albon, however, proved ineffective. Although more consistent than Gasly, Albon really didn’t astound anyone after the summer break.

4. McLaren F1

McLaren turned questions into a pleasant surprise of a season. Carlos Sainz, Jr. and rookie Lando Norris more than impressed at various points this season, with the former locking up a stunning sixth in the drivers’ championship. Tying up a few loose ends could maybe result in the team on the podium more often next year.

5. Renault F1

What started as a race for fourth turned into barely hanging onto fifth, with the ever-optimistic Daniel Ricciardo falling off in the back half. While the team said its goodbye to three-year driver Nico Hülkenberg — who will not be racing in F1 in 2020 — they welcome in Esteban Ocon, who last raced for Force India in 2018.

6. Scuderia Toro Rosso

This is where you go to succeed under-the-radar. Only three teams had two different drivers on the podium at some point this season: Mercedes, Ferrari, and yes, Toro Rosso. After being demoted from the A-Team Red Bull, Pierre Gasly impressed with far less pressure on him. The team will still run with him and Daniil Kvyat as they rebrand in 2020 as Alpha Tauri.

Looking ahead

The sport’s next major rules shakeup is slated for 2021, including a completely redesigned car and financial regulations for teams. That should, in theory, narrow the gap and bring the top-tier teams back in line with the midfield. Until then, things are pointing towards another runaway season for Mercedes, with all-but-two driver lineups remaining intact. Will any of the steps made by other teams this season result in a remotely competitive 2020?

I don’t think so. Prove me wrong.

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