Daniel Ricciardo is among the drivers fearing for Formula One’s future after labelling as “boring” Mercedes’ one-two procession in the Australian Grand Prix.
Winner Lewis Hamilton and his runner-up teammate Nico Rosberg lapped all but three drivers at Albert Park in Melbourne in a Sunday drive that turned a race into a glorified Mercedes parade.
“I feel a bit for the fans,” said Australia’s Ricciardo, who finished sixth.
“It was a boring race. It was frustrating.”
Hamilton, from pole position, and Rosberg, from second spot, were never challenged by a field of just 15 cars, which third-placed Sebastian Vettel said damaged the sport.
Two more cars retired before completing a lap and only 11 drivers finished the season-opening event.
“For sure it’s not great for the people,” Vettel said.
“(Formula One) is a difficult challenge. It is complicated – maybe it got a bit too complicated.”
Vettel, on debut for Ferrari, conceded that bridging the gap – he finished more than 34 seconds behind Hamilton – would be “difficult but not impossible” this season.
“It’s a big gap – 34 seconds down the road is a lot for everyone else,” he said.
“It can turn around a little bit for the next grand prix but it could be even worse.”
Even Mercedes’ victors wished for a greater challenge from the likes of Ferrari.
“I hope you can give us a challenge because it’s important for the sport and for the fans,” Rosberg said.
“And a part of me thinks about the show because I want to give people a great time at home watching on TV or at the track.”
But Vettel scoffed at Rosberg’s sentiment.
“You really hope so, seriously?” Vettel said.
“You finish 30 seconds in front of us and … you hope you slow down?
“A suggestion, if you don’t mind, is your garage becomes public for Malaysia and everyone can have a look.”
Mercedes last year won the drivers’ and constructors’ titles and set a record 16 race wins in a season.
Hamilton won 11 of those races as Mercedes set a record 11 one-two finishes in a season. The team also equalled Red Bull Racing’s 2011 record for most pole positions in a season with 18.
Little has changed.
On Sunday, England’s reigning champion Hamilton easily won his 34th career grand prix: within six laps he was already 2.6 seconds ahead of Rosberg.
“Once you get a two-second gap you try and manage that. There is no need to eke out more,” Hamilton said.
“It was a phenomenal race for both of us.”