Monaco: Red Bull were so dominant in Monaco at the weekend that McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton felt they were almost “taking the Mickey” out of their Formula One rivals.
Australian Mark Webber and Germany’s Sebastian Vettel finished one-two in the season’s most glamorous race and are now level on points at the top of the championship after six of 19 grands prix.
Hamilton, the 2008 champion and a former Monaco winner, finished fifth and his world champion team mate Jenson Button retired on lap three with a blown engine.
“They are still really far ahead,” Hamilton told Reuters. “They have been so quick. They didn’t even push in this race, they weren’t even pushing.
“It’s not scary, it just takes the mickey a little bit,” added the 25-year-old. “They were just not pushing at all really.
“It was a bit too easy for them...but I know that we will catch up at some stage and then we will be racing with them and they won’t be having such easy races.”
Red Bull have started every race this season on pole position and won three of them, including two one-two finishes. Webber has won the last two in Spain and Monaco.
The Renault-powered team have also leapfrogged McLaren and Ferrari to lead the constructors’ standings and expect to continue their run of form in Turkey next week.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner expected his drivers to be battling each other all the way.
“I think the encouraging thing is that we have been quick everywhere we’ve been so far this year. Istanbul will hopefully be a good track for us but I’m sure that others aren’t going to be sitting still,” he told Reuters.
Red Bull would be even further down the road had they not suffered mechanical problems, with Vettel experiencing a brake failure in Barcelona, but this weekend it was McLaren’s turn to suffer.
Button, who had started the race as championship leader and is now eight points behind, had his hopes extinguished when a mechanic left a bung in a sidepod, blocking the airflow and causing the engine to overheat when the safety car was deployed at the end of the opening lap.
Button agreed that the team had messed up.
“You never expect those sort of things to happen,” he said. “I’m sure the person who did it is devastated so there’s no use walking around and pointing the finger at anyone.
“It’s not all bad. Everyone has had reliability issues at the start of the year and I just hoped we wouldn’t have them. At the moment you would say the Red Bull is the most competitive car...and when you are in our position trying to catch them, you can’t have issues.
“We have some new parts that will be on the car in Turkey,” he added. “I hope that Red Bull don’t have the advantage they had in Barcelona but I don’t think they will.
“But if they are reliable, consistent and don’t make mistakes, over the next few races they are going to be very difficult to beat.”
Hamilton, who stood out in the opening races of the season for a string of overtaking moves, was looking forward to closer racing in Turkey.
“Hopefully, we will be able to challenge them down those back straights,” he said. “Things might turn around. The guys might find something in the wind tunnel and we’ll have it at the next race.
“I’m praying every day that we do, although I doubt it will be the case, but you never know what will happen in this sport.”