Despite the farce of double points in the Formula 1 title showdown in Abu Dhabi, it was comforting that the driver who scored significantly more race wins over the course of the season finished the year as champion.
It isn’t always the case; indeed, in 2008 Lewis Hamilton collected one less win than Felipe Massa, then with Ferrari, but edged the title by a solitary point.
There was an element of good fortune about that title win – although conversely you could argue that Hamilton would have been a more deserving champion in 2007, his first year in F1, when McLaren in-fighting between him and Fernando Alonso allowed Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen to steal the crown.
Little surprise, then, that Hamilton said in the post-race interviews in Abu Dhabi that this title feels even more satisfying than his 2008 success.
It could also prove more significant for his long-term future. Mercedes will now be desperately keen to put the contractual handcuffs on its first world champion since Juan-Manuel Fangio in 1955, so the Briton should be in a competitive car for the next few years.
He’s scored a sizeable psychological blow over team-mate and off-track buddy Nico Rosberg, too. Although Rosberg has outshone Hamilton in qualifying – something of a surprise, given the latter’s reputation for banzai one-off laps – the German has been outraced on most occasions this season.
On Sundays, when the points are awarded, Hamilton has usually held the edge. Should the other teams catch up and start to mix it with the Mercedes drivers, Rosberg’s qualifying speed might become more vital, because starting at the front could be key.
But for as long as the two Silver Arrows are having a private scrap for race wins and are rarely separated by other cars on the circuit, Hamilton’s race pace is what makes the difference.
This title win might also enhance Hamilton the person, as well as Hamilton the driver. During the interviews I watch on television and online, Hamilton can come across as a little awkward. I sometimes get an impression that he’s second-guessing himself, trying to give the answers that he feels the world wants to hear.
Of course, he isn’t alone – this is an unfortunate by-product of modern sports stars being micro-managed by a coterie of skilled public relations gurus and career managers. In Hamilton’s case, he’s had such figures taking an interest in his career since the age of 12.
Contrast that with the genuine public love of Jenson Button, who could be on the verge of getting squeezed out of McLaren and F1. I’m not certain at what point the 2009 world champion became an elder statesman of F1 (and he’ll quite rightly hate that phrase), but in my estimation he has grown immensely as a human being over his years in the sport.
But I remember interviewing Button in Paris back in the winter of 2001 when, due to some complex contractual machinations, he ended up exiting an increasingly competitive Williams-BMW and was about to embark on two disastrous years in a rather naff Benetton-Renault, a move that almost destroyed his career.
That interview with Button, conducted with other British media, was notable only for the complete absence of anything exciting. It was full of bland PR platitudes at a time when the media was searching for a rabble-rousing homegrown hero to take the place of Damon Hill.