Last weekend, the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix was run at Bahrain International Circuit. Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel took the win, bringing the weekend's festivities to their finale on the rosewater-drenched podium.
The ten teams present at the race, however, did not being packing their bags for the next race in Sochi, Russia, as they had a two day window this week for some prime testing time in Bahrain. Tuesday and Wednesday were an opportunity to let loose test drivers, young debutants vying for a future Formula One race seat, and engineers with updated parts ready for a shakedown. With the test sessions now over, almost every team has newfound confidence in their drivers, cars, and strategies.
Renault Sport F1
In the Gallic yellow corner, Renault Sport F1 is pleased with upgrades to their aero, citing a "tangible" improvement to simulated race scenarios. Nico Hülkenberg was critical of the RS17 after Sunday's race, as both he and his teammate lost positions as the race dragged on, attributing it to car flaws. After extensive running by Hülkenberg and test driver Sergey Sirtokin, Renault is confident they will not suffer as much over the course of the rest of the races this season.
In spite of a dreadful first day of testing, McLaren-Honda found improvements had been made in the second day of testing. McLaren-Honda driver Stoffel Vandoorne was thrilled with a lack of breakdowns on the second day of testing, landing as high as fourth on the lap time rankings.
Ferrari focused its efforts on a combination of tire testing for supplier Pirelli and practice for Antonio Giovinazzi, a young Italian hotshot who may replace Kimi Räikkönen after the 2017 season. A power outage in the team's garage threw the team a curveball, with Sebastian Vettel wistfully wishing for "more laps."
Mercedes AMG Petronas
Like Renault, Mercedes AMG Petronas worked toward improving race pace. Qualifying is no issue for Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, as a Mercedes has taken every pole position this season, but only one of said pole positions has been converted into a win, as Ferrari have improved their strategies and Sunday speed, taking two wins in three races this year. Hamilton and Bottas both claim long-run improvements have been made, with the latter proud to have learned "a few tricks" to close the narrow performance gap to his teammate.
Finally, Haas F1 Team's Romain Grosjean tested an alternate brake supplier. For much of the 2016 season, and part of this year, Haas drivers complained of problems with the Brembo equipped on their cars. On Tuesday, Grosjean gave the Carbone Industrie brakes a whirl, and noted an immediate improvement. His teammate Kevin Magnussen tested the new brakes on Wednesday, but has not yet made any statements regarding a preference for one supplier over the other.
The next race weekend, the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, will be the weekend after next. The race begins at 8 AM EST, so there are no excuses for missing out on it. With almost every team and driver boasting of improvements made after testing, there is much credibility at stake. Will Lance Stroll crash again? Will Honda engines blow up? Will Sebastian Vettel swear into team radio again? Find out in ten days.