Martin Brundle column on the Italian Grand Prix
As his main competition were embroiled in fierce battles or running into each other, Sebastian Vettel simply cruised to another victory at the Italian Grand Prix and all but secured a second consecutive world title with six races remaining.
The Red Bull driver was clearly very emotional on the tremendous theatre of a podium which spans the race track above thousands of appreciative if rather disappointed Ferrari fans.
Vettel is a fiercely determined and very intelligent sportsman who demands much from his team and himself.
But his podium tears confirm that he is no robotic winning machine, and his boyish demeanour and general enthusiasm make him one of the most enjoyable people in the whole paddock to chat with.
I have never understood the perception that he can only race from the front in the fastest car.
Passing Ferrari's Fernando Alonso at 200mph half on the grass around the outside of the Curva Grande and then completing the move braking up the inside of the second chicane should put that one to bed nicely.
Alonso admitted he had been a bit too hard while squeezing Vettel onto the grass and apologised in the post-race news conference.
“It was obvious in Italy that Schumacher is as willing as ever to push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour up to and beyond their limits”
I suspect he was still hurting from two weeks ago when Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber drove around the outside of him at Eau Rouge.
But more importantly, if he was to capitalise on his lightening start from fourth on the grid to take the lead into Turn One, along with a notion that the Ferrari might be kinder to its tyres, he had to keep Vettel at bay in that phase of the race.
Alonso's apologies weren't enough because post-race Vettel officially asked the stewards to look into the incident.
Surprisingly, they were not asked to comment on the robust defence by Michael Schumacher from Lewis Hamilton.
A steward told me after the race that he was very frustrated not to have been consulted during the race, particularly as he takes a very dim view of what he perceived as blocking.
I asked race director Charlie Whiting if the stewards can call up issues for themselves if they are not happy with something they see, and he said: "Absolutely".
The procedure which did happen was race control spoke with the team and gave a warning which translated into two radio calls from team principal Ross Brawn to Schumacher to leave more space for Hamilton.
This undoubtedly confirmed Schumacher was driving in an aggressive and questionable manner, and it must be said that many teams and drivers would have appreciated this service in the past rather than being issued an immediate penalty.
The regulations are very clear that you cannot force another driver off the track. It should have been at least investigated as to whether Alonso did this to Vettel, and Schumacher to Hamilton.
When the stewards look at an incident, they have GPS trace overlays, car data, and many camera angles to carefully analyse a driver's consistency of line and actions.
I have learned several times again this season that one camera angle may well not tell the whole story.
There is an agreed code of conduct that only one move across the track is allowed in defence of a position, and there is a further sporting trust between many of the drivers.
The 'one-move' arrangement can be complicated on an incident-by-incident case as to whether or not retaking the racing line for braking and turn-in constitutes a second move, or a right having successfully defended the position.
Furthermore, when trying to drop a car out of the slipstream on a long straight by weaving around, when does this become a block?
Hamilton fell foul of this in Malaysia on the long pit straight when moving four times in front of Alonso, having been warned the year before.
“Schumacher's secondary defensive moves were pushing the limits to the absolute extreme and he was lucky to get away with it”
There were several questionable moves on Sunday by Schumacher - during braking into Ascari; the apparent sweep right pushing Hamilton onto the grass at Curva Grande; and the clear double move between the second chicane and first Lesmo corner.
It must be noted that Jenson Button cruised up and passed the pair of them in a handful of corners, and Hamilton made it quite clear his priority was finishing the race.
Sometimes you do get a psychological block when following a particular driver on a given day. I know that feeling well.
I also know the feeling of being on the receiving end of Schumacher's late moves, especially when I was his team-mate. He barged me on to the grass big time in Hungary in 1992.
But this is my view of Sunday.
Did we see a consistency of application of driving standards rules? No.
Have drivers been penalised for less than Schumacher did? Yes.
Has Hamilton been punished for less? Yes.
I thought Hamilton handled the post-race interviews very maturely.
With the information I have would I have penalised Schumacher in the race? No, we need quality racing and it's meant to be tough out there, but a reprimand may have been appropriate.
I stand by what I said in commentary - Schumacher was placing his car very well, but his secondary defensive moves were pushing the limits to the absolute extreme and he was lucky to get away with it.
Why are we sensitive to blocking?
It's the scourge of all junior racing, and will sooner rather than later cause the death of a driver or marshal, or send a car flying into the grandstands.
It's not about favouring one driver over another.