Some will view Fernando Alonso's assertion that he still sees himself winning the championship as the proclamation of a madman, but let's have a look.
In Bahrain, Alonso qualified third, 0.36s behind Felipe Massa when he didn't get his sectors together on his qualifying lap, but there were no mistakes on race day as he took second place from the Brazilian at the first corner and then full advantage when pole man Sebastian Vettel was hobbled by a rogue spark plug. Alonso's Ferrari career was off to a winning start with a 25-point maximum.
Fernando Alonso © LAT
Next up Australia, where Alonso was within a couple of tenths of Vettel's pole but was blameless as he was pushed into Schumacher at the start. His recovery from the back was mighty, until he encountered his slower team-mate and got stuck, which pleased him not a lot.
On to Malaysia, where Alonso was handicapped by Ferrari's daft - they were not alone - failure to set a banker qualifying lap in mixed conditions, which sentenced him to 15th on the grid. He was battling for eighth with Button when his engine failed, but he nevertheless left Sepang just two points behind the championship lead.
In China, Alonso made his first error of the season when he jumped the start and earned himself a drive-through penalty. After three pitstops he nevertheless battled back to finish fourth.
Barcelona brought a slice of fortune when fourth place behind the Red Bulls and Hamilton on the grid translated into second in the race after Vettel suffered a brake problem in the closing stages and the McLaren crashed. With five races down Alonso was still just three points off the pace in the championship battle, behind Button.
In Monte Carlo, Alonso, very quick in a well-suited Ferrari and fancying his chances of beating Red Bull to pole, made his second error of the season when he crashed heavily at Massenet on Saturday morning, holing his chassis and putting himself out of qualifying.
A pitlane start is not what you want at Monaco but he stopped for primes on lap one, got himself out of synch and gave himself a clear track to get stuck into. By the time the rest had pitted for tyres, Alonso was sixth, which is where he finished. Again he went home just three points behind new series leader Mark Webber. A good escape.
Turkey was Alonso's only real below-par race performance-wise. And that was down to the Ferrari F10, not its driver. Four points for eighth place after a dice with Vitaly Petrov is not what he had in mind but he remained upbeat because he expected more in Canada and he knew there was a blown diffuser update in the pipeline for Valencia which had produced great results in the wind tunnel.
The last three races are where it has gone badly wrong for Alonso, but again, nothing to do with lack of pace, more appalling luck.
Fernando Alonso's damaged car in Monaco © LAT
In Montreal, Alonso could have won but got tripped up twice by back-markers and lost places to Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
At Valencia there can be no doubt that under normal circumstances the Spaniard would have finished second to Vettel and, who knows, may even have had the pace to challenge him. Although the FIA was correct in everything it did handling Webber's accident and the attendant Safety Car, there is no denying that it should not be possible to break the Safety Car regulations and still finish second, as Hamilton did. One of only two drivers to have his race terminally damaged by the official car's deployment, Alonso should have scored 18 points in Valencia instead of four.
Then, at Silverstone, the penalty for cutting a corner overtaking Robert Kubica was harsh.
Okay, if a driver puts a wheel between his rivals' at 200mph, it's iffy, so penalise him. But if he gets himself alongside an obviously slower car in a second gear corner and then gets ushered towards the grass, don't. Especially if we are trying to encourage drivers to pass each other. Make him give the place back, fair enough, but if the driver who's been disadvantaged has retired by then, leave it alone.
It was ironic that Nigel Mansell, who has pulled off some of the more spectacular and daring overtaking moves in F1's history, should have been helping the stewards with that one.
"Ah, so Nige is a steward here..." someone said at Silverstone's BRDC barbecue on Friday night. "He's always been a bit of a drama queen. If something happens there's bound to be a casino..." Don't know about the queen bit - if there's a man in the universe who displays not one iota of femininity you'd have to say that it's Nigel Mansell!
Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica © LAT
Is it really 20 years since he climbed out of a broken gearbox Ferrari that had been leading the British Grand Prix, melodramatically tossed his gloves and balaclava into the crowd, returned win-less to the paddock to ask why it never happened to the other bloke (one Alain Prost, who scored his fourth victory of the year as a result of Nigel's misfortune) and immediately announced his (subsequently suspended) retirement? Not that I'm suggesting for a moment that the two events are in any way related!
The point is that Alonso, through the harsh decision and an unbelievably badly timed Safety Car for some debris on the straight, was penalised to a degree entirely out of kilter with his offence. Good job Spain won the World Cup that night to improve his mood a little, although with Howard Webb letting the Dutch impersonate Bruce Lee for 45 minutes, Alonso must have wondered anew about an anti-Spanish conspiracy, this time with some reason!
So, taking Alonso's season as a whole, in the 10 races to date something has gone wrong in 80% of them, only 20% of which can be attributed to him - or 30% if you want to be tough on him over Kubica.
By any standards that's an extraordinarily unfortunate run. A relentless, combative driver, Alonso, having qualified third at Silverstone in a car beaten only by the Red Bulls, will have fancied his chances of blowing Hamilton away given a decent start. After all he did so convincingly in the same car when they were McLaren team-mates in '07, much to his satisfaction. Even with the start he did have, he should have finished third.
Perhaps he got his comeuppance last Sunday for quietly singing, "Bye, bye, go home, bye, bye, go home..." in the direction of the main grandstand crowd last Saturday after Hamilton and Button could only qualify fourth and 14th respectively.
Fernando Alonso © LAT
It was just a bit of humour but it was picked up by the TV mikes and in the following day's News of the World there was an especially sneery-looking Fernando under the headline: "Alonso taunts Brit fans."
When you forget all the hoopla and look at the championship table, it is currently led by Lewis Hamilton with 145 points. Alonso is fifth with 98. There are such fine margins in F1 that if things had worked out in any way reasonably for Fernando over the past three races, he would be sitting there with 137 points and Hamilton would have 135.
Which is why, with nine races remaining, it would be unreasonable to expect Alonso's season to continue in similar vein. And why, with civil war at Red Bull and the McLaren pair split by just 12 points - one fourth place these days - it would be wrong to write Alonso out of the championship equation.
He may be 47 points behind, but that's just two wins in today's money. And, there's little doubt where Ferrari's principal effort will go during the championship run-in.
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