|© AP Photo/Dita Alangkara
After the Japanese Grand Prix, the championship is now at a stage where the winner at the end of the season would be crowned a three-time champion.
From a 40-point lead heading into the mid-season break, Fernando Alonso’s advantage has been slashed to a measly four after Sebastian Vettel won successive races in Suzuka and Singapore while the Ferrari driver crashed out in two of the four races since August.
"Luck tends to balance itself out over a 20-race season and it will be down to what the two of them do on track now and the relative performances of the cars over the remaining five races," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was quoted saying by Reuters.
"The championship now is effectively a battle of five races between Fernando and Sebastian," he pointed out.
Red Bull has found answers to unlock pace from its cars while Ferrari has confessed that its aging wind tunnel has handicapped it, suggesting that the defending champions could retain its crown this year too.
Recent reliability issues for McLaren, meanwhile, have dropped both its drivers as serious contenders although there is still a bit of hope.
"I guess Fernando will be going home more unhappy than most, he is under pressure, more pressure frankly from Sebastian than from us but we have closed that gap and we have five races to go," McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh said after the Japanese GP.
Jenson Button shared his boss' thoughts.
"It's going to be very tough to hold on to Sebastian," reckoned Button. "His (Alonso) lead has gone, but that's not all. It's also very tough for him because the Red Bulls are so fast now. Ferrari are pretty quick but not as quick as Red Bull."