Just hours before the tyres-screeching, engine roaring start of the Turkish Grand Prix, the reigning world champion was admitting his title hopes were over.
Lewis Hamilton faced the fact that his season has already ended, as Jenson Button was about to roar ever closer to snatching the title.
The new regulations, the slick tyres, KERS and who can forget the controversial diffusers, have been brilliant for Brawn, but they have helped to reduce to the McLaren team to also-rans.
The world champion’s 200mph race car was branded “the worst McLaren ever built” by former team boss Eddie Jordan.
And a fortnight before the British Grand Prix, the usually never-say-die racer admitted he had no chance of retaining his hard-earned crown.
It was just six races after he made history as the sport’s youngest champion. Reality came in the form of another miserable qualifying session on the undulating Istanbul circuit.
Despite his tremendous skill and ambition, Hamilton just couldn’t drag his under-performing McLaren any higher than 16th.
The fact that his team-mate, Heikki Kovalainen, was a sliver faster in 14th suggested Hamilton’s heart is no longer in a dispiriting battle with an ugly beast of a race car some have labelled a “real dog”.
With a thin smile, Hamilton summised: “We should understand where we made mistakes and make sure we don’t do it again.
“It’s not like we can claw back 60 points in the championship. We will bounce back next year.”
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team