After all these years, even though he hasn't driven a front-running car for some time, Fernando Alonso remains at the epicentre of Formula 1. Not just as a gold standard, and one of only two drivers by which all the others are judged, but also as F1's most charismatic and fascinating character - notwithstanding Lewis Hamilton's celebrity friends and greater social media following.
Yet in a few races, Alonso will be gone.
Why? Because he can't get into a competitive car. The same question again: why? It's not because of his age, and there is no suggestion that he is past his prime. Alonso turned 37 in July, but as McLaren CEO, Zak Brown, puts it: "his competitiveness is undimmed."