FIA President Jean Todt has admitted that he’s amazed by the continued success of Mercedes at the pinnacle of Formula 1.
The German manufacturer has now won six consecutive team and driver championships, and has dominated the sport since 2014. Todt stressed how hard it was for any team or sportsman to sustain such an incredible run.
“It’s amazing,” he said, as reported by RACER.com. “I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to achieve that.
“To do that six years in a row is remarkable, particularly when you have other teams like Ferrari, Red Bull — now with Honda — and great drivers.”
He likened Mercedes’ success to an athlete lifting a 200kg weight and then managing to hold it there for an extended period: “Normally it comes down!” he pointed out.
Todt was himself team principal at Ferrari in the early 2000s when the Scuderia enjoyed its own spectacular run of success in F1, meaning he knows what it takes to put together – and sustain a title-winning team.
“I have full respect and it reminds me of some memories,” he said. “Even if I must admit that they did better — six and six, we did six and five — and with a strong competition.”
Todt added that he had been left “speechless” by Mercedes’ achievements and said that it was up to the other teams on the grid to catch up and end the run of back-to-back titles being racked up by the Silver Arrows.
Already, Ferrari and Red Bull have been gaining ground and made 2019 one of the closest championship battles in recent years.
“I feel that the championship was very difficult for them, much more than it may look,” said Todt of Mercedes’ ultimate success last year.
“But simply it’s a combination: you must have a great driver, a great car and a great team, because it’s so competitive. If you don’t have those three together it cannot work.”
Although he missed out on the 2016 title to his then-team mate Nico Rosberg, there’s no doubt that Lewis Hamilton has played a key role in Mercedes’ sustained success.
“It’s fantastic to have a personality and a talent like Lewis,” Todt said. “But it’s part of the story of motorsport. Every decade you have some special talents.”
He compared the reigning world champion to some of his most successful predecessors including Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart.
“Before Lewis you had Michael, you had Fangio, Clark, Stewart — there have always been some amazing talents. One day Lewis will go and some new talents will be confirmed.”
Todt said that it would be good to see the younger generation of rising stars like Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, George Russell and Pierre Gasly take over at the top once Hamilton decides to hang up his helmet for good.
“In terms of Verstappen, Leclerc – newcomers – the car will help them as I’m sure it will some new drivers like Norris, Russell, Gasly.
“They are very talented drivers and when they have the car and the personality to back it up, they will be the Lewis of the new generation.”