“I will take it like a man,” said Lewis Hamilton, when asked about his possible reaction to losing the world championship to teammate Nico Rosberg, ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Texas.

Usually such line of questioning is reserved for the last couple of races, if not the dead last one, when the championship battle is seesawing every weekend. Perhaps, the F1 paddock already believes that Rosberg has one hand on the drivers’ championship trophy, given that he leads Hamilton now by 33 points with only four races (a possible 100 points on offer) remaining.

Even so, it was a weird question to ask at this stage. Then again, there is the argument that Hamilton invites this sort of scrutiny. His Snapchat antics during the drivers’ press conference at the Japanese Grand Prix did not help, while his moody fit at the end of that race did not go unnoticed either. He leads a jet-setting lifestyle, replete with non-stop travel across the world, with fashion and music infused in equal parts as well.

Clearly, it can be seen why a charge of distraction has been levelled against him this season. Perhaps it is also because Rosberg has projected an image of unparalleled focus towards winning that elusive championship. And then there are the mechanical failures that have just not allowed Hamilton to come to grips with the title race.

An un-Hamilton season

From engine blowouts, to gearbox issues, to clutch problems affecting the race starts, and finally to his errors, this has been a very un-Hamilton like season. He has just not seemed driven enough to win the title a fourth time, although under the helmet, he might be racing with the same intent. Maybe, it has not been enough to match up to Rosberg’s intensity, and single-minded determination, particularly with all the errors and technical issues stacking up.

A F1 driver needs to find a balance between past, present and future, especially when he is competing for the championship. As things stand, Hamilton cannot worry about what has happened so far this season, or any other season for that matter. All he needs to concern himself with is the USA GP and the three races after that. And he needs to push his car, as long as there is a mathematical chance of beating Rosberg.

He has already made a good start to his quest, that of winning all four remaining races. Hamilton took his first-ever pole at Austin on Saturday, ninth this season, and 58th in his career overall. But what matters more is that Rosberg starts P2, and during the race can be pushed back into the Red Bulls that line, up on row two.

For now, all Hamilton needs to think about is making a clean get-away, and overcoming the clutch problem that has plagued Mercedes at race starts.

Vettel and Ferrari: Awkward

Talking of past, present and future, there is a certain discomfort brewing at Maranello. At the Japanese GP, Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene surprisingly criticised Sebastian Vettel for his performances this year. “He needs to earn his contract renewal”, was the underlying point. And voila, two weeks later, Vettel has announced that his contract talks with the Scuderia beyond 2017 are on hold.

It is a marvellous conundrum this. Ferrari have not won a race this season, with their last victory coming in the 2015 Singapore GP. They have not been on pole either, and slowly but surely Red Bull have overtaken them in the constructors’ championship. They are clearly the third-best team in 2016, a season where Vettel was supposed to push Mercedes and be in the mix.

There are two points here. One, clearly, there is some performance lacking in the car, given how easily Red Bull Racing have moved past Ferrari. And two, the spotlight is now intense on Vettel for his unimpressive results this year, especially given how Kimi Raikkonen is comfortably outracing his teammate for the first time in three years (since his return to Ferrari in 2014). But he has encountered a string of glitches too, while clashing on-track on a few occasions. It has led to one did-not-start and three retirements in 17 races thus far.

There are a few answers needed here. Ferrari’s past is important to them. They have not won a drivers’ title since 2007, and that is unacceptable for this team. As such, the future becomes more important. They bet on it with Sebastian Vettel, who is secure in his present thanks to his four world titles, more than someone like Fernando Alonso.

It is now a question of forgetting this season, and starting afresh with the new rules in 2017. Vettel knows this, and said he is focussed on next season when asked about his contract. He is pragmatic enough to realize the importance of the rule changes, as also what his team can do with them. In this melee, it is clear that he will not stand by and be made responsible for the Scuderia’s mistakes in car development.

Every racing driver wants to win too, not just his team, and the sooner Ferrari realise this, the better. Otherwise, divorce between the two will be the only option.