Little chance of drama in Brazil as Sebastian Vettel seeks 13th win
German's total dominance has turned the Interlagos race into a procession as he looks to equal the season mark for wins
In the nine years this column has been in this newspaper I can't remember when I sat in front of the computer and not known what to write, so this is a first.
The last race is looming in Brazil, and this is the time to reflect on the season and perhaps give out a few gongs for various achievements; perhaps wax lyrical about what an exciting period it has been.
Let's skip that this year. Sebastian Vettel has spoiled the end-of-term party by being, well, too damn brilliant. He would sweep the board, and what he didn't win, his team would instead. I noticed in Texas that Red Bull nonchalantly claimed the record for a pit stop, managing to have Mark Webber's car stationary for a mere 1.923 seconds. It was a record previously held by Red Bull, not surprisingly.
Of course, Vettel was busy setting rather more significant records in Austin. He has now won eight races in a row, edging ahead of the mark set by Michael Schumacher and Alberto Ascari. He is now on his 12th win of the season, and another win in Sao Paulo this weekend will see him equal another Schumacher record.
There's not much of a chance that it will end any other way. You could bet your house on the German qualifying on pole and having the race wrapped up after the first corner.
To be honest, the end of season cannot come quickly enough. The total dominance of one team has left half the paddock as irritable as a teacher before the summer holidays.
The race weekend in the US was a case in point. Pastor Maldonado was perhaps the worse grump. Having decided to walk away from Williams at the end of the season he sensed a conspiracy to trip him up, even suggesting that his mechanics had sabotaged his car. It is certainly not the way to endear yourself to your workmates, and let's hope he is a bit more diplomatic if, as expected, he ends up at Lotus next season.
Mind you, Lewis Hamilton provided the entertainment of the American race, bickering with his long-suffering engineer Pete Bonnington. When he was reminded to manage his tyres, he snapped back: "That's what I'm doing man. Let me focus." It was a truly laugh-out-loud-on-the-sofa moment for millions.
Mind you, Bonnington couldn't win last Sunday. Having perhaps decided to let Hamilton "focus", the driver radioed the pit wall to say "you need to give me some feedback, man". If in Bonnington's position, I'd be tempted to give him something more than honest "feedback", but I guess that's not the best way to treat a racing driver's ego.
There were some high points in the race, if you looked hard enough. Valterri Bottas proved in qualifying and the race why he is regarded so highly by Frank Williams. Romain Grosjean showed increasing maturity and it looks like he will be a good team leader for Lotus next year. We hope the new rules for 2014 shake up the grid, and Pirelli gets the right mix between reliability and degradation. It will help if McLaren come to the party.
Brazil looks set to disappoint. Who can see past the Red Bull dominance that has become the norm? This on a track, which has so often brought drama and excitement and last-corner, world-championship deciders. The ramshackle yet magical circuit, one of the few to run anti-clockwise, deserves better. And so do we.