F1 Insights: Why the V8 era was superior to the current V6 turbo era
A rather discouraging statistic shows up if we look at the new drivers who won a Formula 1 race in the 2010s.
Only 11 drivers have won in this decade - Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas, Pastor Maldonado, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. And of these, only 5 were first time winners - Rosberg, Bottas, Maldonado, Ricciardo and Verstappen.
The number of new winners is directly related to the competitiveness of the grid and the ability of different constructors to be on the podium regularly. If a comparison is drawn between the V8 engine era and the ongoing V6 turbo engine era for their first 100 races respectively, you clearly get to see how the difference in engine power and development has reduced the parity among the teams.
The V8 era started in 2006 and ended in 2013. During the first 100 races of that era, 8 different teams won races: Ferrari won 33, McLaren 24, Red Bull 21, Renault 10, Brawn 8, and Sauber, Toro Rosso and Honda won once each.
Apart from this, Toyota, Williams, Force India and Mercedes also found their way to the podium. Essentially, 13 different constructors had their drivers finish in the top 3 in a race. That made it an unpredictable era, with the midfield cars pouncing on any slip-ups from the top teams.
The V6 era began in 2014, and is still in the vice-like grip of Mercedes who have continued to build on their engine advantage. Disappointingly for a neutral observer, only Mercedes (74), Ferrari (14) and Red Bull (12) have won races in this era. And only Williams, Force India, McLaren and Renault have had a podium aside from these three teams, with the numbers being remarkably low - 15, 5, 2 and 1 respectively.
This has also led to what is being termed 'Formula 1.5', where the rest of the grid competes to finish as the 'best of the rest'.
Drivers from the top 3 teams starting at the back of the grid and still ending up on the podium is becoming a common occurrence, which points to the huge performance deficit. This is in stark contrast to the V8 era, where even Honda won a race, with Jenson Button.
The competition can't be allowed to be this skewed, for the sake of the sport's health as well as the level of fan engagement. The sooner F1 can get out of this situation, the better sporting experience it can provide to racing fans in general.