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F1: No fears of 1992 repeat for Brawn

Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix marked the third successive 1-2 for Mercedes, the first time a team has scored three successive 1-2s since Williams in 1992, when, courtesy of getting the (technical) jump on its rivals in terms of active suspension, the Grove outfit’s drivers, Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese went on to score three further 1-2s, finally finishing in that order in the drivers’ championship while Williams took the constructors’ title.

Such was Williams dominance that Mansell secured his title in Hungary with five races remaining and Williams secured its crown in Belgium two weeks later.

Despite Mercedes equally impressive start to this season, not forgetting that it has won 75% of the races since the hybrid formula was introduced in 2014, and every title, F1 technical boss, Ross Brawn, does not believe the German manufacturer will enjoy Williams ’92 type domination this season.

“It was down to a superior technical package in the era of active suspension, to the extent that Mansell brought home a further two wins before Ayrton Senna delivered one of his trademark miracle performances in Monaco, which momentarily interrupted an incredible run of wins,” says Brawn in his wrap-up of last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, omitting the fact that in Monaco, Mansell was cruising to his sixth win of the season, when he had to pit due to a “loose wheel nut”, rejoining behind Senna, and though the Briton tried every trick in the book, on the tight, twisty streets of Monaco, the Brazilian made it impossible to pass.

“Despite the statistics being racked up by Mercedes, I don’t believe that 2019 will follow the same script as ’92,” insisted Brawn. “The three consecutive one-two finishes scored by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are definitely down to a team that is operating to perfection at the moment, with a top notch technical package, but it’s also fair to say it is up against stronger opposition than was Williams back in ’92.”

While Ferrari clearly has its issues in terms of its drivers, the fact is that despite the pre-season promise, the SF90 is not on a par with the W10, and while it may have the outright grunt, the Mercedes has the aero advantage. Furthermore, the strategic mess that was Ferrari on Sunday was put firmly in perspective by its German rivals, no better than that double-stacked second pit stop.

“The first three races have confirmed that if Ferrari wants to challenge Mercedes everything has to be perfect at all levels,” says Brawn, “performance, reliability and teamwork. That’s what Binotto and his guys have to do and, knowing Mattia, I am sure he is aware of that and will devote all his energies to ensuring it happens.”

Brawn is being somewhat disingenuous here, for it wasn’t until his arrival, along with Jean Todt, Rory Byrne and Michael Schumacher that Ferrari was finally able to extract itself from the mire it had been in for much of the time since Jody Scheckter’s championship winning season in 1979.

Furthermore, now at the heart of the ‘team orders’ issue which is dominating the headlines, the decision to make Binotto team boss alongside his technical duties has been shown up for the mistake that it is.

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