Nico Rosberg is driving like a man possessed. Three races into this 2016 Formula One season and he has maximum points in the bag. The six race victories in a row he's picked up, three of which date back to the tail-end of last season, means he joins the exclusive four man club of Sebastian Vettel, Juan Manual Fangio and Michael Schumacher to win half a dozen races or more on the bounce.
His team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile continues to stutter along and is well and truly in a game of catch-up with Rosberg. Hamilton had every right to stress post-race that there are 18 races still to go and that he isn't worried about Rosberg's 36 point lead at the top, but that gap looks more likely to widen rather than narrow given the different paths the drivers are taking this season.
Hamilton, for all is talent and speed, never looks far away from meltdown, and the slow and cumbersome start to the season suggests the man looks ill-prepared to defend his title this year. Perhaps he's underestimated the determination and steel of the German Rosberg (we all may have, the man looked well beaten last season), or perhaps he's still suffering from an off-season hangover. Whatever the case, the Englishman sorely needs to record a win before the circus hits Europe-proper on May 15th in Catalunya. Before that is a trip to Sochi in Russia, where Hamilton has been the victor in both of the two races held there since 2014.
Ferrari, meanwhile, finally showed us what they can offer this year, with both cars finishing in the top 5. Speed is definitely present in their locker, but the fact Vettel finished thirty-six seconds behind Rosberg in 2nd place suggests the Scuderia still lack the raw pace of Mercedes to compete for the World Championship this year. At this moment, they may even be too pre-occupied with looking behind their shoulder at a resurgent Red Bull team. Daniil Kyvat and Daniel Ricciardo finished third and fourth respectively and it looks like the engine troubles and in-fighting within the team are a distant memory. Again, its early days, but the Red Bulls are certainly clinging onto Ferrari's coat-tails in the Constructors' Championship as the Summer approaches.
For only the sixth time in Formula One history, the race ended without a single retirement. A rarity indeed. That doesn't mean the race was little more than a parade. An action-packed start that saw Hamilton pit three times in fifteen minutes and the two-Ferrari's collide as they headed into the first corner would've filled the highlights package aptly. For all the talk of the lack of competition in Formula One these days, the 2016 season has truly got off to a brilliant start.
Next up is a trip to Russia, a place Mercedes will likely dominate once more. Whether that'll be spearheaded by Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg remains to be seen, but shout it from the rooftops: We have a title fight on our hands!