That you can’t tell how much comes down to the car and how much to the driver, is the cry of Formula One’s critics.
Well, they should have been here at the rain-sodden Hungaroring on Saturday while Lewis Hamilton was rising above his machinery.
The Briton produced a stunning lap to put himself not merely on pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix but half a world apart from the other finest men racing on Saturday.
Sebastian Vettel, his principal challenger for the title and a fellow four-time world champion, was 0.552sec back. And his Ferrari was appreciably quicker than Hamilton’s Mercedes through practice.
Hamilton’s spanking of Vettel here should be remembered when history is written and drivers are assessed. So should the manner in which the two men circled the 2.7-mile track amid plume-tails of spray. Hamilton exuded controlled authority while Vettel was a fraction cautious.
Perhaps the German was constricted by the memory of sliding off in the soggy German Grand Prix last weekend. He never looked likely to overcome Hamilton yesterday, or indeed Valtteri Bottas, who was second quickest and a quarter of a second off the pace, or Kimi Raikkonen in third.
Asked if Saturday’s disparity proved that he is better than Vettel, Hamilton said: ‘I know the answer to that question but it is up to you and the public to judge.
‘I can only try to be the best every single time I get on the track. Regardless of opinions, ultimately I hope results will speak for themselves.’
Hamilton, who takes a 17-point lead into today’s race, must have been delighted when he saw the blue skies turn grey and heard the storm roll in. He had struggled for speed in the dry, losing out on the timesheets to Bottas, let alone to the red cars. His practice form was scruffy.
‘I had no idea I’d be on pole,’ admitted Hamilton. ‘I knew I had to put together each sector really well to beat the Ferraris. In the last sector, it especially felt as if I’d made the difference.
‘I was thinking you only get certain moments once in a lifetime. I thought it is now or never. I may be back here next year but I will be in a different position. I will never be 33 and here again.’
Red Bull had a disappointing day. Max Verstappen was seventh fastest while his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was a big-name casualty of the intensifying rain. The Australian failed to set a good enough opening fast lap in the second session and had no realistic chance of improving on 12th place later on, the conditions having become unplayable.
The deteriorating weather – from spots of rain to heavier stuff – made tyre selection difficult. Whether to go on intermediates or full wets?
Fernando Alonso was exasperated by the sopping task, telling the McLaren pit wall: ‘Put on what tyres you want. The last sector is impossible. Even if you put on a rocket ship we will not improve.’ He was 11th then and stayed 11th.
A thunder storm blacked out the electric timing screens in the press room and cut the internet connection for three or four minutes as the first session ended. A clap of thunder sounded like a bullet shot.
‘It’s been an emotional day,’ said Hamilton, his work done and the 77th pole of his career completed for posterity.