Motor racing-Mercedes extend title streak with record seventh in a row

Nov 1 (Reuters) - Mercedes celebrated Formula One’s longest unbroken run as constructors’ champions with an unprecedented seventh successive title on Sunday.

They did it with four races to spare at Italy’s Imola circuit, a home grand prix for the sport’s most successful team Ferrari.

Even if the record stands the test of time, others can still claim greater dominance over the course of a single season.

McLaren, with Brazilian Ayrton Senna and French rival Alain Prost, won 15 of 16 races in 1988 and ended up with a points tally (199) more than three times that of their nearest rivals Ferrari (65).

They also started all but one race on pole position.

This season has 17 races, with Imola the 13th round.

So far Mercedes have been on pole every weekend but the champions have been beaten twice -- at Silverstone and Monza by Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly respectively for Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

Ferrari managed six titles in a row between 1999 and 2004 when Michael Schumacher also won five successive drivers’ crowns.

In 2002, Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari team won 15 of 17 races with nine one-two finishes -- the latter tally bettered by McLaren in 1988.

Mercedes are currently on 11 wins and five one-twos for 2020 so can only equal Ferrari’s 2002 achievement.

They will, however, become the first team to win seven successive championship doubles, with Lewis Hamilton poised for his seventh drivers’ crown and team mate Valtteri Bottas his only remaining rival.

“Seven-times champs, that’s something I’m going to be able to tell my grandchildren one day,” said the Briton after his race win on Sunday.

Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel managed four title doubles in a row between 2010 and 2013, as did McLaren between 1988 and 1991.

The constructors’ title dates back to 1958 and Ferrari are the kings of longevity, having competed every year since the drivers’ world championship started in 1950.

Mercedes competed in 1954 and 1955 but then withdrew as a constructor until taking over champions Brawn GP and returning in 2010. They are fourth equal, with Lotus, in terms of total constructors’ titles compared to Ferrari’s 16.

Mercedes took all but one pole position in 2014, 2015 and 2016 but no team has yet gone an entire season dominant on Saturdays.

In 2016, Mercedes won 19 of 21 races while in 2015 they had 12 one-two finishes from 19 races.

In 2013, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel won a record-equalling nine races in a row on his way to his fourth title in the last season before the start of the V6 turbo hybrid era that Mercedes went on to dominate. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)