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The Most Dominant F1 Cars of All Time

F1 dominance is a testament to the skill and prowess of both the driver and team, so which car was the most dominant?...

At the time of writing, Max Verstappen and Red Bull are dominating Formula 1, but they weren’t the first (to achieve such impressive levels of dominance. It’s a testament to the skill and prowess of both the driver and the team to achieve engineering excellence (even if it isn’t the most entertaining to watch). So which F1 cars from history have been the most dominant?

The RB18

Credit: ごひょううべこ

Wins: 17 of 22

Win percentage: 77%

Pole positions: 8 of 22

Podiums: 28 of 44

2022 didn’t start with a bang for Red Bull. They were dealing with reliability issues notably at the season opener when both cars retired. This can be explained by the intense 2021 title fight with Mercedes that resulted in Red Bull delaying development of their 2022 car, the RB18.

This perhaps adds to the prestige and achievement of the team here to start weak and finish so very, very strong.

Ferrari 500

ferrari 500 1951
Credit: Ferrari

Wins: 13 of 16

Win percentage: 81%

Pole positions: 13 of 18

Podiums: 20 of 36

The Ferrari 500 is the stuff of legend. It won every race in competed in in 1952 and again in 1953 where it won all but one race it contested. With Alberto Ascari behind the wheel, he took home back-to-back drivers’ titles and while it only has an official win percentage of 81%, that’s because the Indy 500 was on the calendar, which ran different regulations despite being part of the championship and thus Ferrari didn’t compete. This won’t be the last time this caveat appears.

Ferrari F2004

f2004

Wins: 15 of 18

Win percentage: 83%

Pole positions: 12 of 18

Podiums: 29 of 36

Behind the wheel of the F2004, Michael Schumacher set a record for most points in a season (148) during his last championship winning year with Ferrari. Schumacher won 12 of the 13 opening races, while his teammate, Rubens Barrichello, was on the podium at every race but three that year. There were 18 races, but Ferrari had secured the Constructors’ by the 13th round. Not only was it quick, but it was reliable too, only retiring twice due to collisions.

Mercedes F1 W06

mercedes w06
Credit: Morio

Wins: 16 of 19

Win percentage: 84%

Pole positions: 18 of 19

Podiums: 32 of 38

This may not have been the start of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ period of dominance, but it certainly cemented it. Mercedes didn’t have to change much from the dominant W05, and they were right not to considering this car won 16 of the 19 races that year, 32 podiums of 38, taking home the win 84% of the time.

It has a few records under its belt too: highest percentage of points in a season (86%), most 1-2 finishes in a season (12), highest percentage of podiums in a season (84%), most front-row lockouts in a season (15), and most consecutive races with both cars on the podium (9).

Mercedes F1 W05

Wins: 16 of 19

Win percentage: 84%

Pole positions: 18 of 19

Podiums: 31 of 38

The W06 had to learn it all from somewhere and its predecessor, the W05, matches it in almost every aspect. It won 16 of the 19 races in 2014, same as the W06, and took 18 of 19 pole positions. The only difference is the number of podiums of which the W06 has one more compared to the W05’s 31.

While technically that would put the W06 ahead, there is something to be said about the W05 being so dominant that its supposedly improved sibling could only sneak ahead marginally. Simply because it started it all, we’re giving it the leg-up.

Alfa Romeo 158

alfa romeo 158
Credit: WikiData

Wins: 6 of 7

Win percentage: 86%

Pole positions: 6 of 7

Podiums: 12 of 18/21

The 158 wasn’t built in 1950, but 1938, though thanks to impressive levels of development it was able to compete successfully almost a decade after its debut. Granted, at the time other constructors had a much smaller budget than Alfa Romeo, which led to it winning every race it competed in. But it didn’t stop there, not only did it win, but it lapped every other constructor’s car in all but two grands prix.

Alfa Romeo won six of the seven races in 1950, but again because the Indy 500 was part of the championship and had different regulations, Alfa Romeo didn’t compete, otherwise it would top this list win a 100% win rate.

Ferrari F2002

5. 2002 Ferrari F2002 - .64m in 2019
Credit: Gooding & Company

Wins: 14 of 17 (14 from 15 starts for the car)

Win percentage: 88% (93%)

Pole positions: 8 of 17

Podiums: 25 of 30/34

It might have been expected for Ferrari to create a simple evolution of the brilliant F2001, but no, they went much further. The F2002 had a new gearbox that reduced weight by 15%, which ultimately would give it the advantage over the powerful Williams-BMW.

The only problem is that the F2002 missed the first two races of that season because it simply wasn’t ready yet. Once the F2002 was on track though, it won every race but one in Monaco. If we only count the races the F2002 competed in, it won 93% of them. If we take into account the whole season, it won 88% of the races. Either way, it was a very impressive season for Schumacher and Ferrari.

Mercedes F1 W07

Wins: 19 of 21

Win percentage: 90%

Pole positions: 20 of 21

Podiums: 33 of 42

If the W05 and W06 started a dynasty, the W07 marked its peak. With both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg behind the wheel, the team would only lose two races in the 2016 season due to the pair famously colliding in Barcelona and an engine failure in Malaysia. The car was so good that people tuned into each grand prix to see which Mercedes driver would come out on top rather than which team. Famously, it was Rosberg who got the better of Hamilton before abruptly announcing his retirement.

McLaren MP4/4

mclaren mp4/4
Credit: Ayrton Senna Institute

Wins: 15 of 16

Win percentage: 94%

Pole positions: 15 of 16

Podiums: 25 of 32

The McLaren MP4/4 is arguably the most famous car in Formula 1 history and for good reason. This car won every race but one in 1988 with a young Ayrton Senna and two-time champion, Alain Prost, behind the wheel. Like Mercedes in 2016, the car was so dominant that no one else was fighting for wins so it was between the McLaren drivers.

The only race the MP4/4 lost was the Italian GP where Prost suffered an engine issue, while Senna had to retire from the lead after an incident trying to lap a Williams.

Red Bull RB19

red bull rb19
Credit: Lukas Raich

Wins: 21 of 22

Win percentage: 95%

Pole Positions: 14 of 22

Podiums: 30 of 42

It’s undeniable that Red Bull were the masters of the track in 2023. Nobody could touch them and so the RB19 went on to win 95% of the races. Lewis Hamilton even called it the fastest F1 car he’s ever seen, which isn’t entirely accurate, but the sentiment remains.

If the RB18 was impressive then the RB19 was a god amongst men. It wasn’t the quickest over one lap, it only secured a comparatively low 14 poles out of 22, but the way it was able to nurse its tyres and keep performance in them far longer than any of their rivals allowed the car to pull ahead rapidly. The only race they lost was in Singapore and it was here that one of the few weaknesses of the car could be felt – bumpy tracks with a lot of front end.

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