Lewis Hamilton believes that he, rather than Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, is still the driver best equipped to capitalise should Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel slip up over the final eight races of the season.
Despite starting from pole position, Hamilton could finish only third in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, his Mercedes well off the pace of both the Red Bull and the Ferrari. As a result the 2008 world champion is now a massive 58 points adrift of championship leader Vettel, who has a comfortable 46-point cushion over Alonso.
The consensus within the sport is that Vettel would need to have two non-finishes at least for either Alonso or Hamilton to have a chance of catching him, but opinion is divided over which of them would be more likely to capitalise should that happen.
Hamilton is adamant that -Mercedes, who have taken eight pole positions in 11 races this season, still have a "stronger package" than Ferrari -overall. "This was really the only place he [Alonso] was quicker than us," Hamilton said.
"In Monza he might be the same unless we fix a couple of things. But generally we feel we have a stronger package than Ferrari. "Maybe we'll be able to unlock something before the next race, but if not then I'm hoping that Singapore onwards we'll be much stronger.
"When you come to these two circuits, this one [Spa] and the next one [Monza], you get a downforce package and you're kind of stuck with it. It either has or hasn't worked. We may improve in the next race, or we may be in the same position. We won't be any worse. From then onwards we'll have the higher downforce package that we had in the previous races, but it should be hopefully improved again. So I'm hoping that we'll be more competitive from then on."
As the sport came to terms yesterday with the fact that the title was now Vettel's to lose, speculation regarding next year's race seats began to calm down a little. Mark Webber's claim to Australian television prior to the race in Spa that a decision had, in fact, been made over his replacement for next year, and that it would be - as everyone originally assumed - his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo, has convinced most observers that the second Red Bull seat is spoken for, whatever their team principal, Christian Horner, might say.
At the same time, Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said he was more optimistic than ever that he could convince Kimi Raikkonen to stay at the Enstone team. "Yes I am," Boullier said when asked if he was confident Raikkonen would be a Lotus driver in 2014. "He loves this team, he likes to be here and he likes the environment."
Meanwhile, Jenson Button, who is still waiting for McLaren to activate an option on his services for 2014, ruled out any possibility of a move away from Woking. The Englishman said that, after all the speculation and intrigue, he expected little to change with regard to driver line-ups at the sport's biggest teams. "It is always nice to be wanted but I don't need it from other teams," Button said of speculation linking him with Ferrari and Red Bull.
"I have it here and I am very happy here. "I am definitely not going to Red Bull. I will be here. I feel that Ricciardo will go to Red Bull, Kimi Raikkonen will stay at Lotus and Massa will stay at Ferrari for another year."