Sparks fly after Hamilton eases to victory

Frank Dalleres
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Mercedes boss Wolff hit back at Red Bull chief Horner
MERCEDES team boss Toto Wolff has accused Christian Horner of “moaning” after his Red Bull counterpart launched fresh calls for changes to engine rules following yesterday’s one-sided Australian Grand Prix.

Horner urged Formula One chiefs to take steps to equalise the engines of all teams in response to Mercedes’ continued dominance. His comments came after world champion Lewis Hamilton began his title defence with an easy victory in Melbourne – the team’s 17th win in the last 20 races – in which his only rival was team-mate Nico Rosberg.

“Is it healthy to have this situation?” Horner asked. “The FIA [motorsport’s governing body], within the rules, have an equalisation mechanism and it is perhaps something we need to look at.

“Mercedes, take nothing away from them, they have done a great job and they have a good car, a fantastic engine, and two very good drivers. The problem is the gap is so big you end up with three-tier racing and that’s not healthy for Formula One.”

Wolff responded: “If you come into F1 and you try to beat each other or perform at the highest level and equalisation is what you need after the first race and you cry out after the first race, it is not how we have done things in the past and not how we have moaned.

“I think ‘Just get your f***ing head down, work hard and try to sort it out’. It is always a political season. It was last year and it is this year. There is this wall in Jerusalem that you can stand in front of and complain. Maybe the guys should go there.”

Horner also called for changes to F1’s engine rules in an interview with City A.M. last month, arguing that rule-makers should impose restrictions on the cost of the car’s power unit in order to make teams more financially viable.

Red Bull enjoyed their own era of dominance, winning four consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championships until Mercedes deposed them last season, but have been hampered by problems with their Renault engines. Only one of their drivers finished in Australia, Daniel Ricciardo coming seventh after gearbox trouble prevented Daniil Kvyat from even starting the race.

Horner added: “When we were winning – and we were never winning to the advantage they have – I remember double diffusers were banned, exhausts were moved, flexible bodywork was prohibited, engine mapping mid-season was changed. Anything was done and that wasn’t just unique to Red Bull, but Williams in previous years and McLaren, etcetera.”

Rosberg finished little more than a second behind Hamilton, while four-time champion Sebastian Vettel completed the podium by taking third on his Ferrari debut. Britain’s Jenson Button of McLaren was last of only 11 finishers.