A particularly inept military general, who managed to lose several battles even with greater numbers, positional superiority and other advantages in his favour, was caustically described by historians as having the remarkable ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
It's a capsule summary that may well be applied to Lewis Hamilton's race effort in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. However, it would be an unfair conclusion.
Lewis Hamilton © LAT
Hamilton arrived in China needing only a fifth place finish to eliminate Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen from the championship chase.
Finishing no more than one point behind McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso would have put the title beyond the reigning champion's reach, and seen Hamilton crowned in China as the sport's youngest ever world champion.