To say that Lewis Hamilton is driven is an understatement as he motors towards another F1 world title in cruise control.
Hamilton won his sixth grand prix in seven starts in Japan, giving him an almost unassailable 67 point lead in the driver’s world championship ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
This season was heralded as the great leveller, the season when Ferrari had the car to beat Hamilton and the Mercedes team.
Despite the hype, F1 has turned into a procession.
It’s not so much how but when Hamilton will take the crown. If he wins the next race in the US, Hamilton is world champion for the fifth time since 2008 if Vettel finishes in third place or lower or if he scores just eight more points than Vettel.
Vettel’s personal demon
As a driver, Hamilton has started in more pole positions than any other F1 competitor, qualifies faster than the rest and controls his car and his races with confident precision.
Vettel’s personal duel with Hamilton was flagged as the highlight of this season, only to see Hamilton become his personal demon.
Hamilton’s view of Vettel for most of the season has been in his rear view mirror, with the latter struggling to keep up.
The difference is not only on the track. Mercedes have piled on the performance, while Ferrari were lauded as having the fastest car.
Vettel’s team have also made some poor tactical and mechanical decisions, robbing him of the chance to keep up with his rival.
“I just feel very proud of our performance,” Hamilton said. “We have stayed on course with our plan and we are continuing to deliver at the strength and pace we have for a while now.
“It is a marathon not a sprint. I have been in races when I was a kid doing cross-country and just run out of stamina. We seem to have good stamina this year.”
Hamilton has nine wins and 331 points, against Vettel’s five wins and 264 points haul.
Mercedes are also winning the battle for third and fourth places, with second stringer Valtteri Bottas in third with 207 points, followed by Ferraris second driver Kimi Raikkonen in fourth with 196. Neither have won a race.
Only Red Bull have gate-crashed the dominance of Mercedes and Ferrari, with Max Verstappen taking one grand prix and Daniel Ricciardo winning two races.