Sebastian Vettel took his second win of the season this weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
With the German now leading the Championship 7 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton, the season is in full swing and already issues have arisen.
Here’s five things we learnt from this weekends race in the desert.
1. Fast Ferrari’s
Ferrari have truly established themselves as Championship contenders this season. After Vettel claimed the win in Australia many had wondered if the Ferrari performance was the real deal. His second place in China led everyone to believe that maybe Australia was not just a fluke. But it was his 6 second lead over Hamilton in Bahrain that proved that indeed, the Ferrari’s are fast.
But can they beat Mercedes? In the Driver’s Championship, both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are sandwiched between the two Ferrari drivers. With Hamilton and Bottas consistently out performing Kimi Raikkonen who struggled this weekend with tyre issues, can Vettel pull Ferrari away from Mercedes single-handedly?
2. Alonso’s Anger
Fernando Alonso announced this week that he would be missing the Monaco GP for the Indy 500. It is clear that his feelings about F1 and McLaren-Honda are changing. In the Spaniard’s third season with the McLaren-Honda team, he has yet to be given a car that is competitive enough for him to even attempt to claim that third world title he has been yearning for since 2006.
Swapping one of the most prestigious races on the F1 calendar for one of the most prestigious of them all shows his loyalties. Alonso wants to race, but he cannot do that with the current McLaren-Honda.
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) April 12, 2017
His anger was apparent at the Sakhir circuit with plenty of frustration being relayed through team radio. It was clear that the two-time world champion was frustrated when he told the team to “Do whatever you want, man” when discussing a new strategy.
It has been a tough start for McLaren-Honda who have yet to get a point. With a new engine on the horizon and testing Bahrain this week, surely things can only go up from here?
3. Bottas’ Blues
It was a hard race for Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain. After claiming pole on Saturday it was hoped that the Finn would convert it into his first win for Mercedes. However, this was not the case.
The 27-year-old started the race well, taking the lead into the first corner and keeping rival Sebastian Vettel at bay. But when the first pit stops started coming up and orders began to come from his team, the race went downhill for the Finn.
After the race, Valtteri spoke in the press conference about how it felt to be asked to move out of Hamilton’s way: “As a racing driver it’s the worst thing you can hear.” But Bottas did also say that he did it to help the team.
However, it is clear that Bottas is now number 2 in Mercedes eyes with Hamilton clearly taking the lead role – perhaps something unsurprising considering Hamilton is a three-time World Champion. But is it too early in the season to be picking favourites and giving team orders?
4. Stroll’s Struggles
For Lance Stroll, the first three races will be easily forgotten. The 18-year-old has yet to finish a race so far this season, and after a decent performance in qualifying this weekend, things were on the up.
But a shunt from Carlos Sainz Jr. on the 12th lap abruptly ended the Canadian’s race. The Toro Rosso driver was coming out of the pit lane and collided with Stroll’s side-pod as they entered the first corner. Sainz has received a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix in two week’s time.
Unfortunately for Stroll, he has only managed to complete 51 laps out of 170 so far this season. Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein has completed more laps than Stroll this season, despite his first race of the season being this weekend. Will the Canadian finally reach the chequered flag in Sochi?
5. Flying Force (India)
Force India are on a high. So far this season, other than Mercedes and Ferrari, they are the only team to have both drivers finish the race. Both drivers have also scored points in every race.
Finishing fourth last season has given Force India a boost coming into 2017. Esteban Ocon has performed well in his first season with the team, with three 10th place finishes to his name. Senior driver Sergio Perez is sitting eighth in the championship just behind Felipe Massa.
However, Force India may be flying high, but they do want to chase podiums. They claimed two podiums in 2016 and want to build on that; whether they can do it is another story. With Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all potential podium takers, can Force India sneak through and claim more podiums this season?