SHANGHAI: A clean-sweep for Mercedes, including a Lewis Hamilton hat-trick, has left the rest of Formula One wondering whether they can keep up this year, even after only four races.
The opening exchanges have all been won by Mercedes, who have dropped just 18 points so far — after a broken spark plug forced Hamilton out of the season-opener in Melbourne.
Since then, Mercedes have enjoyed three consecutive one-two finishes with 2008 world champion Hamilton leading teammate Nico Rosberg, the winner in Melbourne, home on each occasion.
The Briton was untouchable at Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, pulling away from pole position to beat Rosberg by 18 seconds and complete a run of three straight Formula One wins for the first time.
Red Bull boss Christan Horner, who saw Daniel Ricciardo and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel finish fourth and fifth, said his team needed to find a response quickly.
"We're going to give it everything," said Horner. "I believe we can take the fight to them. We just can't concede too much more ground.”
Fernando Alonso drove an impeccable race to finish third, Ferrari's first podium of the season which the Spaniard dedicated to outgoing team principal Stefano Domenicali.
But the two-time world champion was guarded on whether the result was a breakthrough. He did not seriously challenge the front two, and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen placed eighth.
"We will give 100% again and we will fight,” said Alonso, who moved up to third in the drivers' championship on 41 points.
“But we need to see how development is these three weeks and if we can bring some extra new parts for Barcelona.”
One team who may not trouble Mercedes are McLaren, who appear headed for another difficult year after Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen failed to score any points in Shanghai.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ