The seeds of a problem can be planted many years before they germinate and the initial symptoms of a malaise become detectable. Formula 1 is now starting to feel the early effects of a decision made over four years ago.
For all the millions spent on designing, developing and running grand prix cars, the driver remains a vital component. A driver cannot win without a good car and a good car can be made to look less effective in the absence of a quality driver. It is a symbiotic relationship.
While the difference between the average rank-and-file F1 driver and a gold standard, world championship-winning one is tiny, this can make all the difference between a great season and merely a decent one. The best drivers are able to deliver week in, week out. Think of the relentlessness of a Fernando Alonso or a Sebastian Vettel, who near as makes no difference always deliver.