The advantage Formula 1's top three teams have over the rest of the field has been labelled as a "complete joke" by Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull had been expected to retain an edge in F1 this year, but the extent of their advantage over the midfield has caught some by surprise.
In the Australia Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton's pole position time was 1.886 seconds faster than Romain Grosjean's Haas in sixth, while Felipe Massa's Williams was the best of the rest in China, 1.829s adrift.
While Toro Rosso made Q3 at both grands prix, Sainz and team-mate Daniil Kvyat are yet to qualify within two seconds of pole.
"For me they are in a different category," Sainz said of the top three teams.
"I don't even look at them. It is stupid. It is a complete joke the way that we don't race against them any more.
"It feels for me a bit of a pain, but I am sure if I was in one of those two teams I wouldn't mind for sure.
"[The margin] is something I don't enjoy and I am not sure even Lewis enjoys it.
"Lewis having [Sebastian] Vettel to fight this year is exciting."
Sainz sees little prospect of the situation improving over the remainder of the campaign, and fears that the gap between the top teams and the rest will actually get bigger.
"I think it can only grow," he said. "This is my only regret.
"I think it can only grow up because it means more money, and teams like Renault can also make the difference coming from behind with more budget.
"But I think [Toro Rosso technical director] James Key is going to do a great job and we will bring some good upgrades and keep up some good battles."