MARCH 20, 2015
F1 in image struggle at start of new season
Formula one did not present the best image of itself as the 2015 season opened in Australia.
That is the view of several experts and insiders, following Sauber's courtroom battles, cars stranded in the pits and on the track in Melbourne, and Mercedes' utter dominance amid a row over the rules.
Asked about the beginning of the new season, former F2 champion and commentator for Spanish radio Andy Soucek admitted: "I did not like it and I did not enjoy it.
"We all knew that Mercedes would dominate this year but we saw how far away Red Bull and McLaren are, and although Ferrari is better this year, not much better."
Red Bull is arguing that the situation requires a fundamental change of rules, but it is struggling to find any political allies.
"It's sad," said Force India driver Sergio Perez, "when already at the start of the season it is clear how superior Mercedes will be.
"It's not good for the fans to spend a lot of money for their tickets to see a competition.
"But this is not a new situation, we've seen it in previous years with Red Bull," added the Mexican.
Former double world champion Mika Hakkinen agrees, saying: "Sure, in the eyes of some viewers it is boring, but that's not Mercedes' fault.
"They have just managed to build a clearly faster car," he told Hermes.
Not only that, Manor did not even fire a single engine in Melbourne, McLaren and Red Bull had problems even getting to the grid, and Williams' Valtteri Bottas was hurt.
It meant a 15-car grid for Australia, "for the most professional sport in racing," Soucek told the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.
Hakkinen agrees: "It was quite unusual, and I think in part it was because the cars cannot be adequately tested.
"The competition would also be more balanced if there was as much testing as there was in the past," he added.
There were also off-track troubles in Melbourne last week, as the disgruntled Giedo van der Garde almost brought down the Sauber team in court.
"I had a similar situation in GP2, with Fisichella's team," said Soucek. "I identified with Giedo but this is the reality of formula one today.
"Some of the teams get half the money they need to survive from the drivers," he added.