F1 in the 2010s: A decade of drama
Two dominant teams, three driver champions, and plenty of new stars and phenomenal races. Looking back at the key moments, and changes, from a brilliant decade in F1: Vote for your favourite race
Last Updated: 30/12/19 12:01am
Red Bull and Mercedes dominate decade
The last 10 years in Formula 1 have been defined by two eras. There was the Red Bull-Sebastian Vettel charge at the start of the decade, before the Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton dynasty began.
Red Bull, a relatively raw team having only been formed in 2005, mastered the decade's first set of regulations, with F1 at that time less reliant on engines and more on aerodynamics. Red Bull saw off challenges from McLaren and then Ferrari over four seasons at the top, while they also had a young superstar in the car in Vettel, who, while just 22 at the start of 2010, had immense speed combined with a clinical streak. That helped him to four straight drivers' crowns, beating seasoned veterans in Fernando Alonso and team-mate Mark Webber along the way.
Vettel won a staggering 13 of the 19 races in 2013, which suggested Red Bull would be the favourites for the next big regulation change in F1 the following season. But Red Bull have not celebrated a title since.
Enter Mercedes, and enter Hamilton.
Red Bull vs Mercedes
Red Bull won 41 races between 2010 and 2013, while Mercedes have won 89 in six seasons since then.
Hamilton's decision to leave frontrunners McLaren for Mercedes a year earlier was initially questioned - but it has proved to be ingenious. Mercedes have enjoyed unparalleled success in the sport during the V6 hybrid era, securing six consecutive clean sweeps of the championships, with Hamilton a pillar in that domination. The Englishman added his second and third F1 titles in 2014 and 2015, seasons which were epitomised by an intense battle between Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg. That rivalry reached boiling point the following season, so much so that Rosberg surprisingly retired after pipping Hamilton to the 2016 title.
But since then, Hamilton hasn't been stopped, with Mercedes continuing to prove themselves as F1's winning-machine despite tweaks to the regulations. Hamilton and Vettel, now at a rejuvenated Ferrari, went head-to-head in 2017 and 2018 with Hamilton coming from behind in the standings in both seasons to reign supreme - while his 2019 triumph, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, made him a six-time world champion.
F1's champions of the decade
|2010||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|2011||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|2012||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|2013||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
A power revolution
The seismic change of the Formula 1 decade can be traced back to 2014, when the sport's engine format was completely overhauled. Out went the 2.4-litre, normally-aspirated V8 engines to be replaced by 1.6-litre V6 turbo units with an array of hybrid goodies attached. A fundamental change that provoked no end of controversy and debate but which, undoubtedly, increased the sport's road relevance and energy efficiency.
The development of those engines, added to need-for-speed aerodynamic rules changes introduced in 2017, have produced the fastest F1 cars ever, with new lap records set at most circuits during this period.
The decade also saw the introduction of the DRS overtaking system, the scrapping of in-race refuelling and, arguably most significantly of all, the halo head protection device.
F1's changing faces
The decade's two-most successful drivers are also the grid's only two ever-presents, with Hamilton and Vettel racing in every one of the last 10 seasons (and Hamilton the only one to start all 198 events). Robert Kubica and a rookie Nico Hulkenberg were the only other members of the class of 2019 on the grid for 2010's season-opener in Bahrain, but both subsequently had spells away from a race seat.
Back in 2010, and a 41-year-old Schumacher was in the first year of his three-season comeback at a newly-formed Mercedes team, which in effect were reigning champions Brawn, while 2009's title winner Button had joined Hamilton at McLaren. Meanwhile, the decade's first race winner, Alonso, was starting his career at Ferrari.
The average age of that Bahrain field was 27.7 years old, whereas the grid in Australia at the start of this season was a full year younger.
As a legacy of the political wrangling of the late 2000s, three new teams entered the grid in 2010 - initially called Virgin, Hispania and Lotus - and meant that the decade started with 12 teams and 24 drivers on a bumper if spread-out grid. Sadly, all three new entrants had folded by 2017.
American entry Haas, however, have made a more successful fist of their F1 programme since starting up in 2016, while three established squads - Racing Point, Alfa Romeo and Renault - have undergone changes of ownership and team name through the decade.
The major transfer moves
We've mentioned Hamilton's switch to Mercedes, where he replaced Schumacher, and that was undoubtedly the transfer that triggered the seismic shift of the decade. But there were other notable moves, such as Alonso's decision to leave Ferrari (replaced by Vettel) for an ultimately plagued McLaren-Honda partnership, as well as Mercedes picking Bottas as Rosberg's successor. Verstappen and Charles Leclerc earning their moves to big teams could be huge for the next decade of F1, while Ricciardo opting for Renault certainly raised a few eyebrows.
F1's 10 major transfers of the decade
|Season||Driver||Former team||New team|
|2012||Kimi Raikkonen||N/A (rally)||Lotus|
|2014||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||Red Bull|
|2015||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||Ferrari|
|2016||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||Red Bull|
|2019||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||Renault|
The calendar changes
If the first decade of the 21st century will be remembered as the period when F1 pushed into large new regions in Asia and the Middle East, then the twenty-tens was the era of consolidation and the re-establishing of roots in important old markets.
The calendar has actually grown only marginally in the last 10 years, from 19 races per season in 2010 up to 21 in 2019, with 80 per cent of countries on the 2010 schedule still in play this year.
Turkey, Valencia, Korea and the more-established Malaysia have fallen by the wayside, in addition to 2011 debutant India, to be replaced by brand-new events in Azerbaijan and Russia, plus the returning favourites of Austria, France, USA and Mexico at new or revamped venues.
In total, 27 circuits have hosted a Grand Prix during this decade.
The long-mooted '20-race' mark was first reached with 2012, while the decade ends in the wake of confirmation that F1's maiden 22-race campaign will headline the first year of the twenty-twenties.
The best races... and VOTE
2010: Turkish GP
Turkey showcased the brilliant Red Bull-McLaren rivalry in the 2010 season, with Vettel, Webber, Hamilton and Jenson Button all in race-winning contention before the two Bulls controversially collided. That left Hamilton and Button to battle it out - and the McLarens also seemed to make contact - with Hamilton eventually winning.
2011: Canadian GP
In the pouring Montreal rain, Button, after colliding with McLaren team-mate Hamilton, took five pit-stops before somehow coming back to claim an epic victory, dramatically passing Vettel on the final lap.
2012: Brazilian GP
Alonso was looking to snatch the title off Vettel at the last race of the season in Interlagos, and that certainly looked possible, even probable, after Vettel's first-lap spin. But despite the damage, the German made a champion's recovery to finish sixth - four places behind Alonso - to pip the Ferrari driver in the standings by just three points.
2014: Bahrain GP
Famously dubbed the 'Duel in the Desert', this race was all about Hamilton vs Rosberg with the two Mercedes team-mates locked in fierce wheel-to-wheel battle throughout a pulsating evening. Rosberg threw everything at Hamilton to get past, but the Englishman just held on.
2015: Hungarian GP
A rare off day for Mercedes in 2015 and it culminated in a bonkers race, with Vettel keeping his cool as just about everyone behind him seemed to lose theirs, with both Hamilton and Rosberg colliding with Ricciardo.
2016: Brazilian GP
It wasn't just Hamilton who produced a wet-weather masterclass at Interlagos to set up a title finale with Rosberg, with Verstappen also proving his class in the torrential rain with a stunning drive. A star was born.
2017: Azerbaijan GP
Baku 2017, the day Vettel rammed into Hamilton behind the Safety Car. But it wasn't just that which made this race a cracker, with bedlam throughout the field. Ricciardo eventually came through from 10th on the grid to take a surprise win.
2018: Chinese GP
A Safety Car in Shanghai set up a barnstorming finale, with all six cars in contention. It was the Red Bulls who looked fastest with Verstappen and Ricciardo both charging through, but after Max collided with Vettel, Ricciardo took advantage by overtaking Bottas for the win - his fifth and final race-sealing pass.
2019: German GP
Rain, check. Crashes, check. An unlikely podium, check. There was utter carnage in Hockenheim as Hamilton, Bottas and Leclerc all crashed, leaving Verstappen to prove his skills in the rain once again, with Vettel finishing second after starting last and Kvyat completing the podium for Toro Rosso.
2019: Brazilian GP
Another cracker at Interlagos, featuring wheel-to-wheel battles between Hamilton and Verstappen, a crash between Ferrari's Vettel and Leclerc, and a collision between Hamilton and Albon in the closing stages. That allowed Pierre Gasly to take second place, with Carlos Sainz securing McLaren's first podium since 2014 after Hamilton's post-race penalty.