Ferrari recorded a fine victory in the #Bahrain Grand Prix as once again, #Sebastian Vettel overturned a qualifying deficit to take the chequered flag. Another swift strategy decision from the Italian team paid off as Vettel beat Lewis Hamilton to the win in Sakhir. It is the German's best start to a season since his last title triumph in 2013.
#Valtteri Bottas completed the podium but couldn't convert his maiden pole position from Saturday. With Red Bull off the pace, F1 2017 is already looking like a two-way fight but between two of the very best in equal machinery from different teams..
Vettel: a different driver
Last season, fans of the sport saw an angry, troubled and annoyed Sebastian Vettel. Frustrated by poor pace and clumsy strategical mistakes, he often took his frustrations out on team radio with some rather colourful language used, especially in the closing stages of the Mexican Grand Prix last October. This season, he looks a different driver. Vettel's motivation is back. He has a race-winning car, a competitive machine where he can take the fight to Hamilton and Mercedes and his improvements in attitude and performance have been noted. This was a man who achieved so much at such a young age during the Red Bull dominant era of 2010-2013. His happiness seemed to have waned in recent times but he is box-office material and the sport needs a fantastic battle between different teams. The fans are getting what they want. So are Ferrari and it is showing. His drive in the race in Bahrain was calm and controlled. Vettel is a real force to be reckoned with in 2017.
Bottas lacks raw pace
On Saturday, Valtteri Bottas became the first Finnish pole-sitter since Heikki Kovalainen at the 2008 British Grand Prix.
He put in a brilliant lap to take top honours but whilst he has been close to teammate Hamilton in qualifying, his race pace has lacked consistency. Even though he led the first stint of the race, Bottas looked uncomfortable as the leading runners swarmed all over his gearbox. After a brief attack on Vettel when the Safety Car came into the pits, he couldn't keep up with the Ferrari and ultimately had to let Hamilton through twice, which won't help his confidence. Bottas will win races but already, he is clearly a number two driver to Hamilton in terms of raw pace and general reputation. Mercedes will want him to take points off Vettel sooner rather than later though. Don't forget, he's only on a one-year contract and with the likes of Fernando Alonso available on the market for 2018, Bottas will want to have more polished Sundays in upcoming races..
It isn't a Stroll for Lance
Bottas' replacement at Williams has had a sticky start to his career. It was always going to be a baptism for Lance Stroll into Formula One but the going is proving to be incredibly tough for the sport's youngest driver in 2017. Three races in and the rookie has chalked up three retirements. His incident in Bahrain with Carlos Sainz Jnr came after just 13 laps and brought out the Safety Car. In China, he didn't even complete a lap before Sergio Perez nudged him into the gravel. These are proving to be costly accidents for Williams and not just in terms of financial budget. Stroll has been unfortunate in these incidents and shown some natural speed but he needs to start finishing races. Felipe Massa's sixth-placed result shows Williams have the edge in a tight midfield battle but they need to start getting both cars into the points on a regular basis to stay there. The first Canadian on the grid in 11 years is learning the ropes of the sport the hard way.
McLaren & Honda: the impossible dream
On the week where Alonso announced he was skipping the Monaco Grand Prix in May to compete at the Indy 500, McLaren had another shocker; a lack of speed, massive reliability issue, and another double DNF. Stoffel Vandoorne didn't even make the start after a weekend bereft of running due to constant power unit problems. Alonso had to change an engine after qualifying and although he raced well and seemed to enjoy the battles, particularly with Jolyon Palmer and Daniil Kvyat, he had to stop two laps from home with more engine woes. Alonso is yet to see the chequered flag in 2017 and you can't blame him wanting to do something else next month. The relationship between McLaren and Honda seems to have hit rock-bottom. A divorce looks more likely with every passing weekend. These are very grim times for the team that once produced world champions like Fittipaldi, Lauda, Prost, Senna and Hakkinen.
Whilst one former world champion is struggling near the back of the pack, another looks revitalised. Vettel will look to continue his form around the Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia which is the next race in a fortnight's time.