After Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, which was comfortably won by Hamilton ahead of his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg, Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, said: “Interest will wane. Mercedes have done a super job, but the gap is too big. The FIA could quite easily come up with a way of a form of equalisation.” Later, Red Bull’s motorsport adviser, Helmut Marko, went even further by saying the team could pull out of F1 on the basis that current regulations “will kill the sport”.
When Hamilton was told of Red Bull’s attitude his face quite understandably broke into a wide grin. “I was sitting next to Sebastian [Vettel] after the race and I said: ‘Sebastian, you did this for four years. You were 30 seconds ahead for four years.’ So I know what it feels like,” said the world champion. “Back then he had no one 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].”
An incredulous Hamilton added: “People say it’s all the car, well, it’s a big team that built this car for this performance. 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, as far as I’m aware. There’s no one who had a Marussia and won the world championship, is there? [Juan Manuel] Fangio still had a great car. It’s the name of the game. You’ve got to have great equipment as well.”
In general there is little sympathy for Red Bull’s predicament, with Hamilton’s former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button adding: “There’s nothing really to ban because it doesn’t look like Mercedes are doing anything other teams aren’t doing.
“They’re just doing a much better job of it. In those days with the bendy floors and the bendy wings it looked like Red Bull were pushing the limits in the grey area. But when you look at Mercedes, it doesn’t look like that. It’s a very rounded car. And amazingly strong. But as soon as people do a better job than anyone else they’re slated for it. They’re told they’re damaging the sport. So it’s a difficult situation. It stops people from wanting to be the best.”
The bad news for Red Bull and all the other teams is that Hamilton feels he will do an even better job in Malaysia on Sunday week. “Last year, when I went to Malaysia, I went fresh. It was like my first race of the year [after he failed to finish in Australia]. I went into the race not really knowing how long the tyres were going to last. It was exceptional,” he said.
“But now I’ve done this race I’m going to extract everything from my data and see how I can better my performance. I definitely feel that in the next race I can be better than I was this weekend.”
Hamilton was also modest about his contribution to the Mercedes cause, insisting: “While I’m the one who came across the line, there are 1,000 people who made it, so I’m a very small piece of the equation, a very, very small piece. I’m the one who has to get in and extract the best from the car. I’ve got more to come.”
Button, meanwhile, is more worried about his own problems at McLaren. “The layout of the engine is very aggressive. That’s why we’ve had detuning issues and overheating issues because it is aggressive,” he said. “Honda could probably have built an engine that is better than where it is now, but it wouldn’t be an engine that could challenge the top manufacturers in the future. Whereas this engine can. But you’re always going to have more problems with it because you’re pushing the boundaries.”
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