Seven race weekends down, three to go. GP2 2008 is winding up to a championship climax that could eclipse those of Nico Rosberg vs Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton vs Nelson Piquet, and Timo Glock vs Lucas di Grassi.
Before the last round in Hungary, it looked increasingly likely that Giorgio Pantano would romp to this year's title with Racing Engineering. Besides Monaco, where he was punted off, Pantano had enjoyed mainly trouble-free Saturdays, when most points are on offer, and built up a 15-point advantage over iSport International's Bruno Senna coming into the Hungaroring.
Senna, meanwhile, has had some disastrous weekends, none more so than in Turkey. Of course, that will be remembered for 'dog-gate', when a hapless mutt strayed onto the track and was run-over by the Brazilian, putting Bruno out of the race. But his weekend had already been compromised by a first-corner clash that wrecked his chances of a decent score.
Giorgio Pantano © LAT
And then there was Magny-Cours, where he was plagued by technical problems after putting everything on the line to qualify on pole. Meantime, Pantano had been racking up the points quite nicely, thank you.
Bruno, as he has been outlining in his exclusive columns on autosport.com, isn't a quitter. He knew Pantano would have a bad weekend sooner or later, and it finally came in Hungary, where he was punted down the order by Romain Grosjean and had to rely on all his guile to recover two points in Sunday's Sprint Race.
We also saw unrest in the Racing Engineering camp for the first time this year, as Pantano's teammate Javier Villa was ordered not to overtake, even though he was much quicker. That did not go down well on the other side of the garage. Might he be unwilling to help his teammate's cause in the future?
Now we're into the end game, and this is where it gets serious. This is where little schisms like that will be blown out of proportion, and left-field elements can come into play. Heck, the biggest threat to Glock's title last year was Ricardo Risatti randomly driving into him on the warm-up lap at Spa!
First of all, Senna needs to finish the job he started in Hungary ¬ namely closing the gap on Pantano. Valencia is his first chance, which is followed by classic tracks, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.
Valencia will be a stern test as it's a step into unknown in many respects; I'm sure Murray Walker would call the track 'a street circuit without the houses'. Both Pantano and Senna have learnt the track at the warm-up event last month, but while Pantano raced a Dodge Viper in the GT Open races there a few weeks ago, Senna drove a much more nimble Dallara Formula 3 car in free practice sessions. Might that give him an edge?
How the teams react to this pressure situation will also be crucial. The British iSport squad has invested in some high-tech simulation hardware, and has created a virtual model of the circuit using a GPS system. However, the data engineers of 'Rac Eng' were also spotted out in force last month, and will also come to their 'home' track armed with plenty of inside information.
Bruno Senna © LAT
iSport boss Paul Jackson told me this week: "I don't think Valencia being a new track will make a huge difference. Good people will deal with it well, lesser people won't, the same as anywhere else. If you do your homework, stay calm, then you'll be okay. It looks like it's an exciting track; it's more like Montreal than anywhere else."
Then it's on to Spa. Last year, Senna was blindingly quick for Arden International and should have been on pole. He stalled at the start and crashed in the feature race, but when he kept it on the island he was very rapid indeed and stormed back into the top eighth on Sunday. Pantano, in contrast, blew his clutch on the opening lap after qualifying tenth for Campos Grand Prix. Along with Valencia, this is Bruno's big chance to close the gap.
Finally, it's Monza. Pantano knows the royal park like the back of his hand, and has been winning races at the venue since 2001. Senna, however, was on the podium in the sprint race last year, so don't rule him out.
You want a verdict? I still think Pantano will win the title, but it will be close. Senna's best chance is to reverse the points gap before Monza, and then put pressure on Giorgio on his home turf. If his head is straight, Pantano will cruise to the title. If he wobbles, or technical problems intervene, Senna will be waiting to pounce.