Ferrari beaten - Is Sebastian Vettel in the right team?
Last weekend an opportunity to possibly close the gap on the championship leader Lewis Hamilton and team Mercedes in the Constructors' was thrown out the window for Scuderia Ferrari at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel started second on the grid, sharing the front row with Hamilton and seemingly all set for an exciting battle in Suzuka. But the German's car suffered from reliability issues, forcing him to retire after just four laps. And now the team must pay the price of conceding both the driver's and the constructor's championships.
Vettel was experiencing the best period of his Ferrari career before heading into the summer break. Four race wins in Australia, Bahrain, Monaco and Hungary took him to the top of the drivers' championship, displaying a very promising bid against the dominant Mercedes team. But then, the second half of the season arrived.
A determined Hamilton picked up the pace by crossing the finish line first at the Belgian Grand Prix. And a week later at Monza, Ferrari's home soil, he took over from Vettel at the top of the tree.
Vettel's bosses were not happy with the team's performance in front of their home fans and asked for them to improve. However, the pressure looks to have got to them with a double DNF in Singapore; reliability issues have completely ruined the Italian team's season.
If the last few years have taught us anything about Ferrari in Formula One, it is that they have one good year followed by a bad season. The pattern keeps continuing, with no sign of positive consistency.
They have also arguably wasted a number of talented drivers by not providing the best car on the grid. Fernando Alonso joined Ferrari in 2010 after strong drives for McLaren and Renault - the latter was where he won both his two world championships, in 2005 and 2006.
Alonso came ever so close to a third world title in the last race of the 2010 and 2012 championships. But after five seasons, all the Spaniard got out of his Ferrari experience was winning 11 Grands Prix.
Vettel's bid to add to his four world championships has been put on hold since 2013. 2014 was his last year at Red Bull, as the team failed to defend both drivers' and constructors' titles. But then came every racer's dream, as the German was offered a driving seat at Ferrari, replacing Alonso and joining up with 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Despite his successful years at Red Bull, the 30-year-old could not say no to a new challange at a team like Ferrari.
The last time Ferrari celebrated a drivers' title was in 2007, when Raikkonen won on the final race of the calendar by just a single point over Hamilton and Alonso. The most recent success was in the constructors' 12 months later, but Felipe Massa missed out on becoming world champion in Brazil - losing to Hamilton of McLaren at the time.
Since then, Ferrari have failed to live up to their old terrifying status of being the best team with the best drivers in the business.
Vettel may not be in a situation of having options on the table to move to different teams, but there may be a part of him that now wishes he got a seat at Mercedes instead of Hamilton.
At the time of the news confirming Hamilton would leave McLaren, a team he worked for from his early teenage years, many thought the Briton made a very bad move and risked his chances of tasting world championship success ever again.
Silencing his critics, Hamilton has since been a championship contender, winning two out the last three. He is now on the verge of sealing a fourth world title to level with the same amount as Vettel.
It is believed Vettel's annual salary is up to $50 million, with only Mercedes and McLaren being able to afford the four-time world champion's demand.
One thing is for sure about Vettel's future: he will be driving the famous red car in the 2018 championship. But if no good fortune comes his way in over 12 months' time, then he may want to find a better seat and offer somewhere else.