After the handbags came out again at Mercedes after last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, Formula One heads to the sands of the Middle East for round four of the 2015 season. 

Despite Lewis Hamilton getting back to the top step of the podium, team orders have been a bigger talking point away from the track. With Nico Rosberg being more vocal regarding his obvious unhappiness, the gloves are very much off on one side of the garage.

This weekend will clearly show who is top dog, as it will be a case of letting the drivers do the talking out on the track. Even though Mercedes secured another 1-2 finish in Shanghai, the improved pace of Ferrari was clear to see. Sebastian Vettel is keeping the current champions honest, as the SF15-T is very much improved considered to years past.

Kimi Räikkönen could also be in with a chance for further top five finishes, taking a welcome fourth place last time-out. However, he feels that there is a good chance that Ferrari could take the fight to Mercedes later on in the year.

Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will look to fight at the sharp end again after the first two races were a difficult affair for the Grove-based outfit. With the great promise they showed last year, having switched to Mercedes power, things can only be looking better for them in Bahrain.

The dramas go on for Red Bull, who have been public in their preference for their power unit suppliers, Renault. This has also had both parties making their feelings known about their working relationship, which was so strong in the Vettel era.

Failures for Daniil Kvyat and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen show that the French manufacturer has a lot of catching up to do, especially with how far ahead Ferrari and Mercedes are presently. Toro Rosso should not be disappointed with their results so far, as both Verstappen and Carlos Sainz are showing why they deserve their place in Formula One.

Sauber has had a renaissance this year, with the new Ferrari Power Unit helping them score a raft of points. This clearly trumps their lack of success last year, in what was a seriously uncompetitive car. Both Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr will look to add to their tally of point finishes this weekend.

Lotus will also want to make strides forward, with Romain Grosjean securing his first points finish since the United States Grand Prix in 2013. But there are still little niggles with the E23, as Pastor Maldonado was hindered by a possible brake issue, as well as contact with McLaren’s Jenson Button.

McLaren-Honda have been showing some welcome improvements, ahead of a new updated Power Unit when Formula One returns to Europe after this first leg of the championship. Both Button and teammate Fernando Alonso are realistic, but confident that progress will come with time, as it is showing, but they have been better on race pace than on the qualifying.

And finally, we cannot forget about Manor F1, who have brought smiles to fans around the globe by coming back to the grid. Without teams like this, drivers like Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi may not have had a chance to race in Formula One. Their progress is welcome to see, even though they are currently at the back of the grid.

Even with the weather getting in the way earlier on this week, who will find the sands of time running out quickest this weekend?

Photo credit: “First lap 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix (3)" by Habeed Hameed - Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons