So this is it then. Barring any unforeseen calamities or acts of God, cows wandering on to the Buddh International Circuit for instance - and we did have a stray dog on the track here a couple of years ago, so it is not out of the question - Sebastian Vettel should put his rivals out of their misery today and secure his fourth successive world drivers' championship title. He deserves it.
Yes, the German's Red Bull machine was, as Lewis Hamilton put it so succinctly after the qualifying session on Saturday, "in another world", as he racked up yet another pole to add to his groaning list of accomplishments. But for the relentlessness with which Vettel gets the job done, the fact that he has now almost entirely subjugated his team-mate Mark Webber - a man whose considerable talents are often overlooked in the rush to put Vettel down - and the surgical precision with which he does everything, the German is fully deserving of his place in history. It does nothing to make the spectacle any more exciting, of course.
A grand prix is denuded of a certain frisson when you know more or less with complete certainty who is going to win before it starts. Vettel, however, can hardly be blamed for that, as his rivals have all conceded. McLaren's 2009 world champion Jenson Button even admitted that he had been forced to revise his assessment of the 26 year-old. "He is a great driver," Button admitted, when asked why it was that so many were reluctant to give Vettel credit. "I don't know why that is.
"We had a few mishaps through the year in 2010 and I thought he made too many mistakes. I was surprised that he won the world championship. But he did. And he's won ever since, so I suppose I've got to take that back. "A lot of the time he's been in the best car but there hasn't been a world champion who hasn't had at least the equal-best car. That's been the case for ever."
Whether it will be the case next year remains to be seen. Red Bull's design guru Adrian Newey told The Sunday Telegraph during the week that there was no knowing exactly how things would pan out with the new V6 turbo engines and their associated energy recovery systems. "It's impossible to say to be perfectly honest," Newey said. "We have obviously had a very good run over the last few years but, as you say, there is this massive regulation change. But there will be some crossover with this car. It is definitely still a relative of the RB9."
Hamilton, whose Mercedes team are gearing up as if for war, said that it felt like the sport was heading into the biggest unknown he could remember in his lifetime. "It feels like that," the 2008 world champion said. "It is just really exciting. I am trying to pay as much attention as I can to how the car is coming along. I am asking a million questions. "I don't have any idea what Pirelli are doing with the tyres. Are they going to be better? Are they going to degrade or grain more?
"And with the cars, you just don't know until all four wheels hit the ground who is going to have the strongest. Reliability will be a big question next year for lots of people." All that, of course, is for another, and one hopes, more exciting day. Today, surely, will belong to Vettel, although if the German is to win the grand prix, it will not be by leading every lap as he did in 2011 and 2012.
Red Bull's decision to split their strategies and start Webber on the medium tyres, as opposed to Vettel's softs, has lent the race an intriguing tactical dimension. Vettel is expected to pit after six laps or so, around the same time as the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Hamilton, who start second and third respectively. Webber, fourth on the grid, is the first driver starting the race on mediums and he should take over the lead at that point. It will then be a case of the different strategies unwinding. It hardly matters, though, as far as Vettel's title ambitions are concerned.
The German needs only finish in the top five to be sure of winning the crown. The only man who can stop him is Fernando Alonso and, while the Ferrari driver has, like Webber, gambled by starting on mediums, the Spaniard has to beat Vettel by 16 points to keep the drivers' championship alive.
No chance. Not unless Vettel fails to finish and, even then, Alonso would need to finish in the top two. "You can't take anything away from him," Button agreed. "A lot of people questioned Sebastian's race craft in the early days but he's proved that he has that as well. Anyone who wins four world titles has done a great job and will be remembered as one of the greats."