Three races down in the 2017 Formula One season and already we can start to see a picture developing. Pre-season expectations of a resurgent Ferrari have been confirmed, the cars are bigger, better and faster, and there's a sense of optimism amongst the sport's many millions of followers. Here's the story so far:
Ferrari Are Title Challengers
Every off-season, the Ferrari hype-train departs the station at near supersonic speed only to crash and burn in the aftermath of the Australian Grand Prix. Not this year. Strong testing performances have been carried into the season and the Scuderia started with a bang at Melbourne. Not only are they keeping pace with the Mercedes over race distance, they seemed to have nailed their strategy too. The victories in Melbourne and Bahrain owed a lot to pit-stop strategy and planning, something that has evaded them in recent years. Yes, the Mercs are quicker over one lap, suggesting they'll dominate qualifying sessions this year, but in Sebastian Vettel, they have arguably the best racer on the track and a man who knows how to win a World Championship. A title race is certainly upon is.
McLaren Honda's Season a Write-Off
You could hardly write the script. Actually, thinking about it, if McLaren Honda was a comedy, it'd pick up every award going. From day one of testing in Barcelona, the team have been an absolute shambles. Honda have well and truly messed up their engine this year and already this season must be chalked down as a failure. Three years into a partnership and there is nothing to show for it. Fernando Alonso is at the end of his tether, whilst Stoffel Vandoorne is yet to finish a Grand Prix this year. In fact, he didn't even start the Bahrain GP. A once great team is in danger of falling by the wayside unless something changes soon. Next season is arguably the most important in the team's history.
Bottas Has What It Takes
There were a few doubts surrounding Valteri Bottas when he made his long-expected move from Williams to Mercedes in the Summer. The general consensus was that the Finn had what it takes in terms of ability, but many questioned his mentality and whether he was tough enough to take on team mate Lewis Hamilton. So far, we've seen enough to suggest that he has. A brilliantly taken pole in Bahrain, the first of his career, is a monkey off his back and offers suggestions that he's not hear just to take a supporting role. It's a shame that Mercedes will hedge their Championship bets on Hamilton very soon, but Bottas is surely good for a victory or two this year. He's no Nico Rosberg, but his future is promising.
Red Bull Are Off The Pace
When Red Bull launched their car back in February, the collective feedback was: "Is this it?" It was expected that 2017 was to be Red Bull's year. A shift from engine power to chassis design within the regulations should have been music to Adrian Newey's ears. However, the aerodynamic God seems to have missed a trick here. The Red Bull's are lacking in pace compared to Ferrari and Mercedes and it seems like they'll have to settle for the third row this season. In Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, they have two World Champions-in-waiting, but not this season.