This weekend has seen Mercedes finally start to realise that this season isn’t all about them.
We have learnt far more than just how serious Ferrari are this weekend as they pushed Mercedes all the way to the chequered flag.
Here a top five run down of lessons learnt this weekend.
- Unstable Haas
The biggest thing to come out of this weekend is just how unstable the Haas car has been.
Throughout practice, the Haas was constantly stepping out, especially at the rear end. It is lucky that they haven’t hit the barriers given how unpredictable the handling has been.
Romain Grosjean seemed to struggle with the lack of stability a lot, which is worrying because they have a decent car but are getting too loose and sliding about.
Grosjean definitely had a weekend to forget when he exited the race at turn two, after a collision with Jolyon Palmer.
If they can bring some great upgrades to Barcelona, we should hopefully see the car settle down but brakes still need work.
2. Renault are no match
Thursday was dominated by talks of Renault’s power being equal to that’s of Mercedes and Ferrari.
After this weekend, those theories were dispelled when Red Bull failed to challenge the front runners in any session.
Renault themselves had a strong weekend with Nico Hulkenberg making Q3 again.
Jolyon Palmer was unlucky to crash out in Q1 after an engine change between FP3 and quali. His race then ended after getting into a tangle with Haas’ Grosjean at the start.
Either way, Renault got a long way to go if want to get on an even kneel with the top two manufactures.
3. Honda are nowhere
Sochi is a power circuit and this really showed up Honda’s weaknesses.
Fernando Alonso did well to get into the second part of qualifying. Engine gremlins once again surfaced at end of the formation lap, forcing the Spaniard to retire and register his first DNS since USA 2005.
Stoffel Vandoorne on the other hand, needs to start showing why he deserved the seat ahead of Jenson Button.
On one hand, you can say he been unlucky with such a poor engine and will do better with another engine in his car.
On the other hand, he hasn’t delivered at all pace wise having finished plum last out of all the finishers in Australia. Retirement in China and DNS followed in Bahrain alongside …. in Russia.
4. Force India on rise
Force India might not of started off well given how last season ended but are slowly improving through every on track session.
The points tally reflects this because both drivers have finished every race so far in the points.
If they can keep this up, there’s no reason why they can’t get involved with the Red Bull/ Williams battle.
With Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon outdriving the car’s current ability, they will be a strong team to cope with, come mid season when they normally peak in performance.
5. Bottas’ day
Even though Mercedes struggled all weekend, Valtteri Bottas proved why Sochi is a strong circuit for him.
From third on the grid, he proved how strong, the Silver Arrows’ straight line speed is at the start, when he blasted off the line into the lead by turn two.
Unlike in Bahrain when he struggled to keep everyone behind, the Finn pulled away and maintained a four second gap till he pitted. Bottas then maximised his outlaps to get back into the lead.
Pressure finally came as the race approached its latter stages when Sebastian Vettel started to make his late stop count. The Finnish driver however kept his cool and cruised to his first ever win in Formula One under pressure.
The lessons learned from this race will be invaluable going forwards for Bottas.
Could he do what Kimi Raikonnen did at Ferrari ten years ago and let Lewis Hamilton and Vettel trip each other up, before nicking the championship at the season finale?