The Azerbaijan Grand Prix did not quite deliver the madcap spectacle fans have come accustomed to over the last few years.
Despite George Russell’s Williams being wiped out by a loose manhole cover – which in turn led to a comedy of errors as a recovery truck tried to remove it – and accidents for Robert Kubica and Charles Leclerc at the tricky Turn Eight, the race itself produced little in the way of drama.
But it did at the very least offer a possible insight into just how dominant Mercedes could be this year.
The Silver Arrows set a new record of four consecutive one-twos at the start of a season as pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas claimed his fifth career win ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Just one point separates Bottas and Hamilton in the drivers’ championship, with the resurgent Finn benefiting from the fastest lap point gained at the opening race in Australia.
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“Valtteri’s really, clearly stepped up this year and is really happy in the car and really delivering and driving fantastically,” Hamilton said.
“It’s going to take some really great performances from both of us to outperform each other. And that’s how it should be.”
“Great performances” are all well and good but one thing Mercedes won’t want is a repeat of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix fiasco when the unthinkable became reality as Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided with each other to end their races on the first lap.
Ferrari’s early title challenge is beginning to look as flat as a pancake with Sebastian Vettel and Leclerc sitting 35 and 40 points respectively behind top spot after four races.
Leclerc was quick to apologise for his crash in qualifying but he has also been the victim of questionable team strategy calls that have left the 21-year-old still waiting for a maiden win.
Four-time world champion Vettel – who finished third for the second race in a row last time out – says Ferrari are looking for a “smooth weekend” as the European leg of the calendar gets under way.