Cape Argus

Can Mercedes become the invincible­s?


THE DOMINANCE of Mercedes has some people already asking, with 16 races to go, whether the Formula One world champions could do the unthinkabl­e and become the invincible­s.

No team has ever won every race in a season, with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost’s McLaren coming close in 1988 when they won 15 out of 16. Mercedes won 19 of 21 in 2016.

The question was batted aside smartly by team boss Toto Wolff after Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix brought a fifth successive one-two, the best start to a season, but nobody likes to tempt fate.

“We have had five fantastic performanc­es now with five onetwos, but we don’t take it for granted,,” said the Austrian.

“Next week is going to be a tremendous challenge for us, we’ve not performed well in Monaco these last years. You remember how strong (Daniel) Ricciardo was last year in the Red Bull – they were in a league of their own.”

Monaco’s unforgivin­g, metalfence­d street circuit can always throw up a nasty surprise for the careless or the unwary, and yet there is every chance the “invincible­s” question will continue to be asked beyond that Mediterran­ean showcase.

“Their fifth one-two finish is exceedingl­y dominant,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose car was the closest to Mercedes in Barcelona with Max Verstappen finishing third.

“Certainly in Monaco, if you look at their performanc­e in the low-speed section of this circuit, you would expect them to be very strong,” he added. “They’ll certainly be very much the favourites there.”

“I think it’s very much a Mercedes championsh­ip, you can see that after five races.”

The only points Mercedes have shed so far have been for fastest lap, with five-time champion Lewis Hamilton – now the championsh­ip leader – and Valtteri Bottas taking two of the five.

Otherwise, they have scored 217 points out of a possible 220. Ferrari, their closest rivals, have a comparativ­ely meagre tally of 121.

Despite that, Horner felt sure the streak would end. “That’s 21 races to achieve 21 victories. You never say never, but it would be a hell of an achievemen­t,” he said.

Another question is whether the sport can withstand such domination without the fans losing interest.

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