Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton says the sport must “do better” to create tighter competition amid fears that Red Bull’s domination could result in boredom.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, winner of the past two championships, leads the driver’s standings after splitting the opening four races of the season with teammate Sergio Perez.
Arriving for Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix, drivers spoke openly about how far ahead Red Bull’s cars were of the rest of the field with Ferrari.
Hamilton was asked on Wednesday if there was a danger of American fans losing interest in Formula One given the total domination of one team and the Mercedes driver said while he still found excitement, he understood the concerns.
“It’s not boring for me,” he said. “I’m challenged every single day trying to get back to the front. So, it’s definitely not boring from my perspective. But as a racing fan watching, I can understand.
“Because there’s not as much competition as they’re perhaps used to with NFL and with NBA at the moment. That’s not my doing. I mean, we need to do better, I think, as a sport.
“They have already tried to bring the teams closer, but it never seems to work. All I can say is that we’re working as hard as we can to close it up and get back to that. Give them some more excitement.”
In three of the four races this season, Red Bull have taken the top two places on the podium, with Hamilton’s second place in Australia the only exception.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate George Russell suggested that fans might want to focus not on the race for the winner but on the contest between the best of the rest.
“I think the competition we’ve got at the moment with Ferrari and Aston Martin, every race we go to is really close between us in qualifying and the pace is really close in the race,” he said.
“If that was a fight for the victory, it would probably be one of the most exciting seasons we have seen in a long, long time and it is obviously just a shame that there’s two more cars well out in front So, forget about those two and just watch from (position) P3, it may be a bit more exciting.”
But Russell conceded the problem was real and a difficult one for Formula One to deal with.
“It is challenging,” Russell said. “In no sport do you want to see somebody dominate and you want to have competition and that’s what we all want in an ideal world. You have 20 drivers and 10 teams all capable of winning every single race if you do the right job.”
F1’s new technical rules brought in last season are being blamed by some for the lack of entertainment but Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso said they needed to be given more time.
The rules were designed to create a closer field and encourage overtaking but while there is little sign of either happening, the Spanish two-times world champion said patience was required.
“If Red Bull were not so far ahead, it is a very interesting fight with three or four teams within 0.1-0.2secs and maybe then we would be saying the rules were a success,” he said.
‘Continue to adapt’
Hamilton, while sympathetic to the goals of the rule changes, said they needed to be looked at.
“I don’t know what the solution is for the future but I think we are going to have to continue to adapt these regulations moving forward, otherwise it could be the same as it is now for years,” he said.
Alonso said tires overheating on following cars pushing was one factor that was impacting competition, a view that was backed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Verstappen, the defending Miami champion, had concerns about modern cars limiting the opportunity to overtake.
“The cars are probably too heavy, they’re too stiff, so you can’t really run a curb to try and find a bit of a different line,” said the Dutchman.
“Everyone is driving more or less the same line nowadays because of just how the cars work.”
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