Mercedes can tie Ferrari’s record of six consecutive constructor’s championship victories this weekend, should they outscore their Italian rivals by 14 points.
The current record set between 1999 and 2004 is quite something, but Mercedes are close to clinching both the constructors and driver’s title and should that happen, then they will go one better than Ferrari’s early 2000s dominace.
No team has ever won six consecutive world championship doubles, yet with Lewis Hamilton 107 points ahead of the nearest non-Mercedes driver then that record could be clinched in Japan.
However, who wins the driver’s title cannot be decided this weekend as it is another Mercedes driver in second, Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton leads Bottas by 73 points and the Brit will need to be at least 104 points ahead of whomever leaves Japan in third, for it to be confirmed that a Mercedes driver will win the 2019 title.
Unbeaten in the hybrid era, the team claimed their first championship double in 2014 with Hamilton winning the drivers title and it has just been a Silver Arrows show from there on.
But Ferrari arrived into the 2019 season as favourites to win the championship due to their form in pre-season testing, yet a first half domination from Mercedes winning ten of the first twelve races subsequently dented their rivals hopes.
To add to their success, the Silver Arrows are unbeaten around the Suzuka Circuit in the hybrid era and therefore they will favourite to take victory this weekend – Hamilton has won four of the past five in Japan with Nico Rosberg winning the other in 2016.
The winner of the past seven Japanese Grand Prixs have subsequently gone on to win the driver’s title that year – Sebastian Vettel [2012 and 2013], Lewis Hamilton [2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018] and Nico Rosberg .
However, Mercedes haven’t been at their strongest in the season’s second half winning just one race compared to Ferrari’s three and with significant upgrades to their Italian rival’s car, Ferrari are now a lot better around tracks that are reliant on good downforce – the race in Singapore is evident of such.
But Red Bull, too, should bring the fight this weekend despite their disappointing form since the summer break, as the style of Suzuka’s figure-of-eight circuit should complement the car – they have featured on the podium in each of the last three visits to Japan.
A win for a Honda powered car in their home country and at a track that the company own will go down as very popular amongst the Japanese crowd.
By Edward Hardy