Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes that Formula 1 is not interesting enough right now due to the gap between his team and the front-running pace of Ferrari and Red Bull.
Mercedes have very much been in the periphery so far this season, managing seven podium finishes between Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell while Red Bull and Ferrari have taken out all of the opening 11 rounds of the year.
The new technical regulations, which have brought about the return of ground effect aerodynamics, appeared to catch the eight-time constructors’ champions out and, unless they find some serious performance gains, it is difficult to see them fighting for the title this year.
The aim of the new regulations was to promote better racing and an overall better racing spectacle, but the complete redesign of the cars was always going to create a big split as the teams tried different concepts, not truly knowing if theirs was better than the rest.
Eventually, as the cars evolve and the teams develop, that disparity will lessen, but for now, it is very much a case of mind the gap.
“I think the reason why races have less entertainment is because there’s just too much performance gap between the teams,” said Wolff.
In the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race, Max Verstappen disappeared off into the distance as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz battled for second behind him, but their squabbling still was not enough for fourth-placed George Russell to catch them.
“If you have Verstappen disappearing in a distance, the two Ferraris being the only entertainment during the race and then we are in the middle of nowhere in no man’s land,” explained Wolff.
“Then the others are further behind, and then you have DRS trains, that never can make a good sprint race.”
In the main race, Hamilton secured the Silver Arrows’ fourth consecutive podium when he finished third behind Leclerc and Verstappen after Sainz retired with an engine failure.
Russell recovered to fourth after making contact with Sergio Perez on the opening lap, from which he picked up damage as well as a five-second penalty while the Mexican was forced to retire from the race.