Lewis Hamilton Hits out at Red Bull Call for F1 Rule Change to Rein in Mercedes

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2015

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP stands on the grid for the national anthem before  the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton has criticised Red Bull's claims that Mercedes should have the ability of its car capped after waltzing to a simple one-two at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton took the season's opening race, finishing 1.360 seconds ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg and 34.523 seconds in front of Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari in third. Such early domination led Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to say "interest will wane" and "the gap is too big," as reported by Paul Weaver of The Guardian.

Horner believes "the FIA could quite easily come up with a way of a form of equalisation," but Hamilton appears frustrated at the very thought. The British driver's comments were reported by the Daily Mail's Jonathan McEvoy:

If you want to put someone in the same car, there is no doubt where I would be finishing. People say it’s all the car. Well, it’s a big team that built this car. I’m the one who has to get in and extract the best from it. There has never been a driver that has won the championship that hasn’t had a great car that year. There’s nobody who had a Marussia and won the world championship, is there? (Juan Manuel) Fangio still had a great car.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP waves to the crowd in front of Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP after the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Rosberg acknowledged Hamilton's win in Australia, per Mercedes' official Twitter account:

Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1

NR6: “Lewis made no mistakes so it was just not possible to get closer” Click here: http://t.co/VHDkg8q6MA #F1 http://t.co/0YvDfqbIp3

The irony of Red Bull complaining of an unfair field hasn't been lost on defending champion Hamilton. After securing his first title in 2010, Vettel went on to enjoy three largely unchallenged years as Formula One's top dog in a Red Bull car which was vastly superior to others on the grid.

Former team-mate Mark Webber was unable to halt the German's dominance, but it was Mercedes and Hamilton who stopped him from winning five championships in a row last season. Hamilton suggested he has mentioned this to Vettel, per McEvoy:

I was sitting next to Sebastian after the race and I said: 'Sebastian, you did this for four years. You were 30 seconds ahead. So I know how it must have felt back then.' He had nobody behind pushing him. At least I’ve got my team-mate, who I was really racing. I don’t remember that ever being the case with Red Bull.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 24:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium after winning the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 24, 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Cliv
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Vettel left Red Bull after being pushed to fifth in last season's overall rankings, and the early signs are that the energy drink-branded team is losing momentum. Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth in Australia, while Daniil Kvyat failed to start.

Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko suggested the team's owner could lose interest if Red Bull isn't competitive. "We will evaluate the situation again in the summer. If we are totally dissatisfied, we could contemplate an F1 exit," said Marko, per McEvoy. "Yes, the danger is there that Mr (Dietrich) Mateschitz (the owner) loses his passion for F1."

F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone suggested some sort of limitation to Mercedes' dominance may be in the best interests of the sport's marketability, saying, "Red Bull are 100 percent right." Further comments from Ecclestone were reported by McEvoy

There is a rule I think (former FIA president) Max Mosley put in that in the event of a particular team or engine supplier doing something magic, which Mercedes have done, the FIA can level up things. Mercedes have done a first-class job. We need to change things a little bit now.

What we should have done was frozen the Mercedes engine and leave everybody else to do what they want so they could have caught up. We should support the FIA to make changes.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 08:  F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone speaks with Renault's Cyril Abiteboul, Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and team consultant Dr Helmut Marko during final practice for the Brazilian Formula One Grand Pr
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Ensuring the playing field is level—or at least competitive—remains extremely difficult. It would perhaps be unfair on Mercedes to have their hard work reduced to nothing. The progress of technology in F1 may cease to improve if the top teams are constantly limited, too.

A solution that satisfies all is unlikely to be found at the first attempt, as highlighted by UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules in the footballing world.

Hamilton's comments summarise an underlying frustration that will be felt by Mercedes, and indeed, fans of the team. A level of excitement is pivotal in any sport but punishing those who strive to take it forward suggests commercial needs will always prevail. Although the FIA is yet to act, future Hamilton success could eventually become a hindrance for Mercedes.


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