Newly crowned seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton underlined there will be no let up this season as he finished quickest in first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
On occasion in the past, after winning a title with races to spare, Hamilton has eased off the gas in ‘dead rubber’ grands prix.
Hamilton and Bottas completed more laps than any other drivers – clocking 40 and 41 respectively – with the Briton’s best a one minute 29.033secs, with the Finn 0.449s adrift.
As for the rest of the field, the gap between Bottas and Racing Point‘s Sergio Perez at the head of it was equally as yawning, with the Mexican a full half-a-second off the pace, followed closely by McLaren‘s Carlos Sainz.
Naturally, with FP1 run in late mid-afternoon daylight, the conditions are often viewed as not being representative of what transpires for qualifying and the race which both begin in twilight and fades into evening.
There was also the added element of Pirelli running the final rule over its specification of tyres for next season, with all drivers putting in a handful of laps at various stages.
But even at this early stage, it is hard to believe the race will not be another duel between Hamilton and Bottas for front-row and race honours.
It is the fight for third in the constructors’ championship that is instead garnering most interest, with Racing Point a handful of points ahead of McLaren, with Renault and now Ferrari also in the fray.