Ferrari gave Lewis Hamilton the smallest indication for a goal in Singapore on Saturday and he shrank a beauty in the upper corner.
The round with which Hamilton captured the pole position for the Grand Prix of Singapore was so spectacular that he managed to call it "perhaps the most complete round I have ever done".
And with that he exploded the precedent that Singapore is the bogeycircuit of Mercedes.
The team has been working hard to heal the weaknesses of their car in Marina Bay, where it has traditionally struggled to become grip and a bit impractical.
But still, Hamilton's margin versus title rival Sebastian Vettel was a surprise for both the driver and the team. And also for Vettel.
Afterwards the face of the German and the short-sighted answers told their story.
The lap of Hamilton was good, yes, Vettel said, but he did not find it unbeatable – Mercedes had done better.
"Again", he may have added.
It certainly did not look like Ferrari had the best sessions, because the radio contacts of Vettel were betrayed with his team.
First Ferrari sent both riders in the second qualification on ultra-soft tires – the middle of the three compounds – after they had just seen how Mercedes shot through the first session.
It was almost counterproductive on Mercedes – Toto Wolff revealed that his friend Fred Vasseur, Sauber's team boss, had sent him a text saying: "Do you know what the difference is between an idiot and a genius? 0.2secs."
So why would Ferrari do it too? Their idea was to be fast enough on the ultra-soft to reach the final qualification, and to have that as the race start tire.
Radio broadcasts between Ferrari and Vettel suggest that the German had the feeling that he could have reached the ultra-soft if he had enough free air to drive at his ideal pace in his lap times – which was not the case because of the traffic on his bike. first round.
But Ferrari overtook him because they felt it was too risky and made him hyper-soft.
"It was clear what we were trying to do," said Vettel. "It did not work, so …
"But in general, I think qualifying was not as smooth as it should be – hard to get a rhythm, hard to get a feel for the car and eventually the gap is pretty big.
"I'm not worried about the gap, because I do not think that shows how strong we are, only disappointing, of course, that we did not get the most out of our package."
Switching between tire compounds in a qualifying session is never ideal. It is generally known that if drivers want to have confidence in pushing the boundaries – critically around a number like Singapore – they should be as consistent as possible with running.
Then, in the final qualification, Hamilton produced a round that he described as "fluent, beautiful, like a dance, just amazing".
After seeing the margin Vettel said to Ferrari: "Next time, try to make a good lap for me, I notice that the Mercedes is a lot slower than we are."
He stood behind Mercedes & # 39; Valtteri Bottas in his round, but had not stopped specially. In fact, his round was faster than Hamilton's – with a few seconds. In the end, Ferrari felt that they had suffered the tires from the ideal operating window.
Hamilton – who said he went into qualifying thinking, Mercedes did not have the pace to compete for pole – ended up 0.613 seconds faster than Vettel.
The Brit was 2.5 seconds faster in qualifying than in the final training, Vettel only 1.4 seconds. And Vettel, in an absolutely faster car, should not have been behind Max Verstappen of Red Bull.
Looking at all the evidence, it is clear why Vettel felt that Ferrari had done less well, but not entirely clear if he was right to say that Hamilton's lap was to be defeated.
Anyway, from the third place on the grid behind Hamilton and Verstappen, Vettel will not find it easy to come forward.
The probability is that he will lose more points to Hamilton in a title campaign that falls away from him, as the Bruton, who performs at the highest level of his career, goes from strength to strength.
Kvyat set for return?
While Hamilton and Vettel are competing for the championship on the right track, the weekend of Singapore is dominated by the talk about the drivers market.
There has been big news since the last race, with Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Leclerc changing places on Ferrari and Sauber next season, and the 18-year-old Brit Lando Norris won a place at McLaren.
The future of Esteban Ocon of Force India remains a point of discussion – how can such a talented young driver have no place for 2019? And it is starting to look like Russian Daniil Kvyat will come back next year to junior team Toro Rosso.
This would be a rather astonishing turn of events, given that Kvyat was relegated for the first time from Red Bull to Toro Rosso in the course of 2016-17, and then fell from Toro Rosso, was briefly re-established and then completely fired at the Red Bull driver program late last year. Since then, he is a Ferrari developer.
The motorsport boss Helmut Marko of Red Bull denied BBC Sport that he had made a decision about the arrangement of Toro Rosso's driver, but did not immediately abandon the idea that Kvyat would come back. It seems that what is happening.
Up and down the paddock, a number of people were satisfied with this, feeling Kvyat has shown considerable talent, was treated pretty rudely by Red Bull and earned a new chance.
Assuming that Kvyat receives one Toro Rosso chair, actually the one that was freed by Pierre Gasly's promotion to Red Bull after Daniel Ricciardo's switch to Renault, it remains uncertain who his teammate will be.
Brendon Hartley has been standing on shaky ground for a while and asked if the New Zealander could save himself, Marko said, "Let's see how he does it in the next few races." Not really a deafening approval.
But they do not have many other options. There are no Red Bull drivers ready, Marko refused to disapprove McLaren against Stoffel Vandoorne and said he refused to take a Mercedes driver.
The newest driver-linked name is former Manor and Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, who was released last week from his Mercedes-contract, leaving the German to take a Toro Rosso seat if offered.
Kvyat-Wehrlein as the comeback-kids in Toro Rosso next year? Do not close it.
Three Britons in the F1?
There could be three British drivers in the F1 next year. Hamilton is already joined by Norris at McLaren – and there is a chance that Mercedes-junior George Russell may end up at Williams.
Russell had a number of meetings with Williams over the weekend and according to sources, a deal is a good option.
But Williams is not expected to make a decision about the drivers until the end of the season, and money will come in – they need it and Mercedes is almost certainly not willing to pay in the neighborhood as much as Williams in the ideal case, even if they have some extra money from what seems to be the reduction of their junior driver.
Mercedes & # 39; another contract driver, Force India & # 39; s Ocon, is still looking forward to driving at the end of the season, and will likely spend a year as the reserve driver of Mercedes.
But now the chance that Williams' Lance Stroll will shift and oust Ocon before the end of this season, following the takeover by his father Lawrence Stroll of the team, seems to have diminished considerably, perhaps even completely evaporated.
Stroll Jr wants to stay where he is until the end of the year and move to Force India for 2019, when he has enough time to get used to his new environment and car.
What does the deal mean with Channel 4?
There was good news for British F1 fans for the weekend when it was announced that Channel 4 had signed a deal to show live highlights of all races and the British Grand Prix next year.
C4 had to reach an agreement with Sky, which has full rights to the F1 in the UK for five years from next year. The contract dictates a free-to-air provision and Channel 4 has secured it.
BBC Sport reported in July that a deal was nearby, but it took a while before the deal was final.
What does it mean? Head of Channel 4, Stephen Lyle, told BBC Sport that the agreement was a "partnership" with Sky.
As far as C4's plans are concerned, Lyle said: "We have the opportunity to make a program very similar to what we do now, but I emphasize that we have not yet decided how we will do it." That will happen in the winter.
However, C4 has its own presentation and comment team and its own programming.
The length of the program's highlights will be similar to this year – about two hours. But they will be broadcasted about an hour later because of the restrictions demanded by Sky.