Fernando Alonso has warned his Formula One world title rivals he feels at his peak more now than in any previous season.
Written off more than once this year, a rejuvenated Alonso is the form driver of the five in contention for the championship.
Three victories in the last five races have catapulted the 29-year-old to within 11 points of championship leader Mark Webber.
Remarkably, Alonso is nine clear of Lewis Hamilton after his win in Singapore yesterday, a driver he trailed by 47 points prior to his resurgent run.
It is no wonder Alonso is bubbling as he said: “A championship that is nine months long rarely happens in other sports.
“We are in a sport where you cannot be completely fit, focused and motivated 100 per cent at every race, every month. You are up and down.
“But right now, at this point of the championship, I’m at a peak – 100 per cent motivated, focused etc.
“Sometimes in past championships in September, I was getting tired, what with all these long flights, getting very stressed.
“But this year it is different. It feels like the championship is starting now, so I feel very happy we will be going to Japan next race.”
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali believes the winner from the championship-chasing quintet, that also includes Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, will be the one who is strongest mentally.
“As we all know the car is crucial with regard to reliability and performance,” said Domenicali.
“But we also know that when things are so close, and there are certain moments that are the main moments of either qualifying or the race, the difference is really in the head.
“It is because you have to be there in the right moment without risking too much because if you do then you may suffer problems.
“It’s an area where the fight will be very intense, but I don’t want to say it’s the only area because if you don’t have a good car, forget it.
“But it will be another element in the fight of the championship.”
With his double title triumph of 2005 and 2006 to fall back on, it could be argued Alonso has the mental edge compared to his rivals.
“I hope so, but I don’t know enough about the other drivers,” added Domenicali.
“For sure Fernando is strong in the head, and I really hope he will be the strongest in front of the others.
“I know his characteristics, but it’s also about team work. We need to work with the guys at the track and at home because if you don’t work perfectly as a team then it will be difficult to win.
“But one of Fernando’s main characteristics is that he is very cool, very calm, and that’s what we need from him.
“That is an important point of his leadership that is very strong in the team.”