Back in 1950, when the official Drivers' World Championship was originally inaugurated, nobody gave much immediate thought towards starting a parallel contest which would reward the teams whose engineers and mechanics were kept out of the limelight toiling in the teams' factories.
But if you take a stroll down any pit lane and get chatting with some of the technicians – be they from McLaren, Williams or Ferrari – they all long to take the Formula One™ World Constructors' Championship (WCC); a reward for the long hours working to build the cars which race fans will next see on the television far from the base where they were built.
It was not until 1958 that we finally saw British Vanwalls clinching the newly introduced World Constructors' Title with their three sleek green cars driven by Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks and Stuart Lewis-Evans. The new supplementary contest was extremely well received although some critics reckoned that it rewarded consistency and tactical driving rather than out and out speed.
They had a point, perhaps?
Ironically, McLaren was late on the Constructors' Championship bandwagon. The team had made its graduation to the fully fledged F1™ fraternity as long ago as 1967, but it would take another seven years of effort before they took their first Constructors' crown.
I remember very well standing on the pit wall in the autumn sunshine at Watkins Glen as Bernie's boys Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace stormed home first and second with their pristine white Brabhams, chased by James Hunt – annother future McLaren old boy, if you catch my drift here – and then Emerson Fittipaldi in one of the iconic McLaren M23s. Emerson was very much in what might have been described as 'cruise control mode' going just fast enough to get the job done to completion.
But it was hardly the stuff of which legends were made and seemed a low-key ending to an uplifting season which had started with Denny Hulme out-foxing the Ferraris in sweltering Buenos Aires. As the cars pulled into the pits at the end of that race, only a handful of pit lane insiders made the point that this was McLaren’s first Constructors' Championship. I think the celebrations of F1's™ Brazilian contingent drowned out every shred of noise anywhere else in the paddock.
In fact the team might well have shaken the champagne bottles with a little more vigour had they known that it would take until 1984 for the Prost-Lauda TAG-propelled super team to repeat the achievement. From then on until the end of the 1980s it was hard for McLaren's rivals to get a look-in. The team won again the following year and repeated these achievements in 1988, 89, 90 and 91. A seven year drought would then follow until Mika Hakkinen put the team back into the Constructors' title limelight.
Of course, throughout that glittering decade of the 80s, Ayrton Senna writ his reputation large in the F1™ record books, although he never had much time for the Constructors' Championship. Senna believed that if he was doing the work behind the wheel then the Constructors' Championship was a meaningless frippery. Perhaps we should be grateful that he never shared his outspoken views with the McLaren mechanics who had worked all night before a race preparing his car.
So the Constructors' contest is far from moribund and remains a coveted, if sometimes overlooked, area of F1™ endeavor. It puts me in mind of a conversation I had in 1984 during his stint at McLaren which saw him win the third championship. At the time there were complaints that the Drivers' championship reflected consistency rather than speed.
"Just show me what rules you want and I’ll adapt my driving accordingly."
A bit like the Constructors' Championship really.