Then we get a weekend such as Turkey, where Mercedes looked to have taken a big step forward with its car set-up and heads to Circuit of the Americas expecting Hamilton to take maximum points. That gets proven wrong, too.
Seriously, is anyone really declaring this championship a done deal?
The pressure of a title fight can make people do strange things, and I’m not just talking about the driver. Look at Ferrari getting its strategy all wrong in Abu Dhabi in 2010, covering off Mark Webber with Fernando Alonso only to find that doing so opened the door to Sebastian Vettel.
On that occasion, Vettel was clearly quick but going for his first title and faced a fight from a number of different directions. In 2012, he had the quicker car compared to Fernando Alonso. People remember F1’s inaugural visit to Austin for Hamilton beating Vettel to victory, but what is often overlooked is that Alonso finished 40sec back in third.
And yet a week later, Alonso so nearly took the title in a dramatic finale.
The trend has been for the Red Bull to again be the stronger car on more occasions this year, but at nowhere near the level that was sometimes seen in those championship fights. These are two teams that are extremely closely matched, to the extent we’re shocked when one car can pull away from the other to the tune of a quarter of a second per lap, as we saw in Mexico.
But that’s a gap that both teams expect to see close in Brazil.