|© AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Fernando Alonso could have won his third world championship and demoted Sebastian Vettel to a solitary title during the season-finale in 2010.
But two years ago, the Ferrari driver was left out in the cold peeping through a window of what could have been, closely observing a Russian who was just seeking a few points on a circuit which had no window of opportunity to overtake.
The horrid nature of the track permeated in the Italian camp as lap after lap, the door to the third drivers’ championship slowly creaked to a close.
All he was left with was a crack in the door, with a fuming-red Alonso squeezing his fist at the bright yellow car through it after his hopes slammed on his fingers.
However, the Spaniard insists that the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is not where he lost the title – and he was right.
It was rather a culmination of several under-par performances in the first half of the season that was magnified by Vitaly Petrov’s enormous car at Yas Marina.
Much like the culmination of what happened at the Canadian Grand Prix this year or maybe when he ran wide chasing Pastor Maldonado in China or perhaps his own admitted error.
“I remember a mistake in Q2 in Australia where I touched the grass in Turn 1 and I spun. But apart from that mistake I probably wouldn’t change too many things about what I’ve done so far,” he had said ahead of the weekend in Hockenheim.
Since then, however, Alonso has moved ahead from the mirage, as he did in 2007 when he was with McLaren after Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari trampled the feuding teammates at the British stable.
This year, the top of the drivers’ championship has a 40 point comfort over his rivals but Alonso and Ferrari admit that there’s a lot of work still to be done.
His only chance, unless Ferrari is able to find a good several tenths when the season resumes in September, is a hope that the McLaren drivers eat away Red Bull’s points and vice versa.
And Red Bull and McLaren have a line up with cannibalistic intentions of eating their teammate’s points. And you can also throw in a dash of Lotus and a pinch of Raikkonen to serve up Alonso’s appetite.
In contrast, Ferrari has Felipe Massa, who has ironically given up to save his seat and help his partner instead.
But 40 points is nothing. Especially with McLaren’s moss gathering momentum.
If Lewis Hamilton wins in Belgium and scores a third place at Monza, for instance, and Alonso ensures that Michael Schumacher’s record of successive points finishes remains intact, the lead suddenly doesn’t become too comfortable.
“Nobody is kissed by fortune all the time, my guess is that the lucky streak of Alonso will sooner or later come to a halt" - Helmut Marko
Alonso may be in his prime of his career, the way he has flogged everything out of his machine, but to sustain that in the next nine races - with a car which has the manners of a gentleman around a lady - the Spaniard needs to be rude at all times.
“After you,” the Ferrari seems to say tipping its ugly nose to let the ladies through first.
"Physically it’s my best year so far. In previous years I’ve had to race with pain, whether it’s in my leg or my shoulder, but so far this year it has been 100 percent in every race," he said. "Hopefully it will stay like this."
But hope is a sin.
“Nobody is kissed by fortune all the time, my guess is that the lucky streak of Alonso will sooner or later come to a halt,” Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko told the official F1 website – albeit a bit harsh in his assessment.
When September comes, Ferrari needs to wake up and smell whatever is cooking at the time at Spa-Francorchamps, a circuit Alonso has never won at.
Otherwise it’s more of a question of dealing with a triple heartbreak rather than the celebrations of a triple champion.