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Remembering 10 F1 years of turbo-hybrid power and domination

Remembering 10 F1 years of turbo-hybrid power and domination

Remembering 10 F1 years of turbo-hybrid power and domination

Remembering 10 F1 years of turbo-hybrid power and domination

For Formula 1 fans of a certain age, there are some moments when you realise how much the landscape of this non-stop sport has changed... and how much hasn't.

This weekend's Australian GP represents one such epoch, with the race representing the 10th birthday of the modern turbo-hybrid era.

READ MORE: Marko casts HUGE Mercedes move verdict after Wolff offer

Heading into the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, we had Red Bull Racing coming off a long winning streak after their lead driver dominated the prior season and fans full of hope that the new regulations would stop them.

Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo spent his previous year hoping for a Red Bull seat, people had doubts over Lewis Hamilton's recent decision to move away from his long-time team, and Ferrari hoped to make a step forward to stop leading the best-of-the-rest behind the frontrunners...

It sounds like a familiar story, but despite the parallels, the F1 world has a decade of development between then and now.

READ MORE: Sky Sports F1 pundit tips KEY Red Bull figure to join Hamilton at Ferrari

Mercedes Maximising Melbourne

Mercedes won Melbourne 2014

Mercedes nailed their turbocharged V6 engine to become the dominant force for most of the subsequent years, kicking off this new-look period of F1, but Nico Rosberg took the win in Melbourne, not teammate Hamilton.

Rosberg is the unsung hero from the turbo-hybrid era of the sport thanks to his shock post-title departure, but people should remember how much the 2016 champion brought to the sport outside of that championship-winning season.

There are a lot of complaints about Max Verstappen's dominance today, with fans understandably frustrated that they know the victor of a race from the moment the Dutchman survives any opening-lap misfortune.

Although a different section of the fanbase was the one grumbling, we heard the same annoyances through most of Hamilton's 2017-2020 seasons.

Not so in 2014, 2015, and 2016, though, thanks to Rosberg pushing the now seven-time champion to battle for the pole positions and wins with equal machinery.

READ MORE: Hamilton demands 'BIG changes' amid Mercedes frustration

Supreme Silver Arrows

Mercedes controlled F1

That's not to say Rosberg's presence made these early turbo-hybrid years some must-watch racing, but it did have a championship fight last longer than what we have today, particularly in 2014 and 2016.

Nonetheless, Mercedes' superiority then was arguably far clear of today's ground-effect Red Bull, with the Hamilton-Rosberg pairing bringing 32 1-2 finishes in that period.

The winning driver's advantage was seldom as sizeable as in recent years because the two racers kept each other close, but the gap behind the Silver Arrows makes Red Bull look relatively pedestrian.

Take the 2015 Australian GP, for example, when Hamilton's pole was six-tenths ahead of Rosberg and 1.4s better than Felipe Massa's P3 effort before the two blitzed the other 18 drivers by 34s in the race.

Mercedes controlled the sport back then to similar or higher levels than Red Bull on raw pace, but the subplot of the internal team battling kept things feeling less stale at the sharp end.

Yes, Hamilton had an easier time once Rosberg walked away; the quickly established pecking order between him and Valtteri Bottas had far fewer explosive fireworks, with 2019 and 2020 being low points on the excitement scale.

READ MORE: Wolff admits SHOCK Verstappen Mercedes swoop rests on crucial move

Is Red Bull better than Mercedes?

Rivals: Mercedes & Red Bull

Red Bull's recent years have seen them exceed on a different level to their German rivals in those early years of the regulations.

Without a similar-level driver next to Verstappen in the garage, the ruthless efficiency of the partnership is almost robot-like, sorely missing some a joker card or other jeopardy.

That might change in the turbulence following Christian Horner's investigation, but wherever the team goes from here, there's no denying Adrian Newey's aerodynamic excellence has numbed the sport for many.

Combining the turbo-hybrid regulations with 2022's updated ground-effect rules has let Newey's genius shine, and having a talent like Verstappen in the car his brain created has proven devastatingly destructive for everyone else.

Sadly for many viewers, they are part of the 'everyone else', and the gap between Verstappen and Sergio Perez means there are no top-team flashpoint moments like the 2016 Spanish GP crash, the 2014 Belgian GP 'absolutely unacceptable' contact, or even the low-stakes cap-throwing playground drama at the 2015 USGP.

Both teams have enjoyed their dominance, but friction is necessary for compelling viewing, and that's been sorely missed over the past few years.

READ MORE: F2 Power Rankings – Saudi Arabian SUPREMACY blows F2 title fight open

Top F1 storylines of the era

Sebastian Vettel waved F1 goodbye

Ten years of turbo-hybrids haven't all been single-team supremacy snoozefests, though.

Regardless of your view on the final miles of the 2021 season, that year will go down as one of the sport's best in history, with the back-and-forth between two teams and drivers at their best.

We've also had Verstappen's ascent from Toro Rosso's 17-year-old Max Crashstappen in 2015 to the three-time champion we have today, with countless 'simply lovely' drives even before his regularly winning ways.

Equally, we've had the downfall of Sebastian Vettel, entering the regulations looking unbeatable but failing to score a single victory in the season following his last title.

Fernando Alonso's odd journeyman career of hoping to land in the best team rather than build one up has had the Spaniard have four employers plus enjoy a two-year retirement and become a two-time Le Mans victor, too.

With Bernie Ecclestone moving aside for Liberty Media, many of these stories have had blockbuster movie-like treatment that has revolutionised how everyone consumes the sport.

Yes, the turbo-hybrid decade has been one of domination, but as we celebrate its 10th anniversary, let's remember that we've had 10 seasons of evolution, too.

It's a timely reminder that, no matter how it may seem in the moment, change is happening now, and the sport won't be as it is today forever.

READ MORE: Hamilton BLASTS F1 over handling of Horner controversy

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