Fernando Alonso drove one of the all-time great seasons in 2012.
The Formula 1 drivers' world championship is something of a misnomer; inevitably it tends to be won by someone with the best car, or very close to it.
Alonso's stats and facts
- Team: Ferrari
- Team-mate: Felipe Massa
- Previous teams: Minardi, Renault, McLaren
- Nationality: Spanish
- Born: 29/07/1981, Oviedo
- Grand Prix debut: Australia 2001
- World titles: 2005, 2006
So it says a great deal about the incredibly high level at which Alonso operated in 2012 that he lost out by only three points in a car that was 1.5 seconds off the pace at the start of the season, and which was rarely anywhere near being the best car.
Alonso himself called it a "perfect" season and it's hard to argue beyond nit-picking at a tiny handful of things here and there. And even then any criticism is subjective.
It's little wonder that, almost to a man, Alonso's fellow drivers consider him the best of them all.
His challenge now is to recover from the crushing disappointment of losing out at the last race after such a performance and do it all over again in 2013. Because, given Red Bull's strength, he's probably going to have to.