Lewis Hamilton claimed a dominant Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday for Mercedes in a peerless performance from what is now well-established as one of Formula 1’s most iconic partnerships.
And with Mercedes’ closest rivals battling their own problems in 2020 – and a mixed-up season where every race counts more than ever – can Mercedes do what’s been impossible in F1 history so far and win every single round?
Our experts have their say.
The ultimate challenge
What do you do if you’ve won six consecutive double world championships? Win a seventh by doing the seemingly impossible and winning every single race.
It’s extremely difficult and probably won’t happen, but it could be just the challenge the team needs.
Toto Wolff has talked about setting new targets and new motivations, so while it’s perhaps a little bit too early to seriously consider that it could emerge as a real objective this could become the perfect way to ensure everyone’s motivation remains high in what will be a gruelling, intense season.
Chances something will trip up Mercedes because there are so many potential forces against it – reliability, a Red Bull recovery, mistakes and perhaps even an unforeseen Jean-Louis Schlesser moment.
But the fact the possibility can’t be laughed off says a lot, even if it is a very long shot. If any team can do it, this one can.
They’ll never say it, but why not? The car’s got great performance and Mercedes’ rivals are struggling. Maybe cooler temperatures in Hungary flattered the car to a degree, but it was a mind-blowing show of dominance from Hamilton today.
Mercedes has now won the first three grands prix on two very different tracks, with minimal threat from behind. OK, Red Bull could get its act together and come back at Mercedes, and maybe Mercedes will have fragilities like it did in the Austrian Grand Prix.
But right now, I see no reason to bet on anyone but a Mercedes driver pre-weekend.
Even the most dominant teams always get beaten
Maybe I’m being a delusional optimist but I still cannot see Mercedes being totally unbeaten all season.
While I’d agree it’s the best team in F1 history and clearly has the fastest car in 2020, it’s not had a totally smooth first three races. The reliability fears in the opener, Hamilton’s Austrian GP grid penalty, Valtteri Bottas’s ultimately underwhelming Hungarian GP – all those chinks show how hard absolute perfection is to achieve in F1.
Plus even in seasons of ludicrous domination such as McLaren’s famous 1988 exploits and even Ferrari’s crushing 2002 and ’04 superiority (pictured below) or Mercedes’ 2014 campaign, someone has always managed to prevent a 100% win record. Whether it was bizarre incidents, rivals improving, or the top team just letting the intensity drop a little bit once the championship was a foregone conclusion, there was always a defeat or two eventually.
Plus, despite their current problems, Max Verstappen and Red Bull have too much potential to go winless all year.
Bad news for everyone else
Well, we don’t yet know how many races we are going to have this season but three races in Mercedes has had three poles and three wins. This simply means it doesn’t look good for anyone else.
It was a great drive today by Max Verstappen to second after an indiscretion on the reconnaissance lap, but the reality is that both Red Bull and Ferrari have both lost their way. That said, other than Hamilton’s race performances, the races appear to be more of an equaliser than qualifying.
‘No-one else is close’
At this rate, yes Mercedes can very seriously target a clean sweep of every race. Given the serious – probably season-long – problems of Ferrari and the very significant struggle of Red Bull to get on top of its RB16, on sheer performance as things stand, no-one is even close.
But let’s not bet on Red Bull not being able to understand and rectify its aero problems. Even with the car as it is, Verstappen made that seriously impressive recovery not only from his off on the way to the grid but also the disastrous qualifying. He gets a tune out of it somehow – and so any problem for Mercedes, and he’s not going to be far away.
The Racing Point is arguably the second-fastest car at the moment but even with a straightforward run from the second row, Lance Stroll was 48s down on Hamilton at the end.
The competition has just fallen apart around Mercedes, which has just kept that incredible level of effort and focus to always improve. Just look at how aggressive it was with its car and power unit this year.
A clean sweep? It will need good fortune to not trip up somewhere – a badly timed safety car or an on-track incident. But otherwise, yes, it’s very much a realistic target.