Yesterday, during the first few laps of the European Grand Prix in Valencia, it seemed that reigning champion Sebastian Vettel was intent on restoring normal service of cruise control for his Red Bull employers.
Yet, suddenly, confirming that the old certainties have been scattered to the wind in this 2012 campaign, the German maestro's car ground to a juddering halt, and Fernando Alonso seized the initiative, en route to securing the 29th victory of his exalted career, and in his homeland.
The contest finished with a furious war of words between Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado, after the latter took his English rival out of the reckoning with the efficiency of an old-style football hatchet man.
This was a tussle which had nearly everything, with Michael Schumacher bravely, if rather fortuitously, gaining his first podium finish since his return to F1, after coming in third behind Kimi Raikkonen, and an epic display from Mark Webber, who began a distant 19th but gradually, impressively, clambered up the rankings to garner precious points, while Vettel stood on the periphery, admitting that he didn't have a clue as to why his vehicle has stalled out of contention.
Yet his demeanour of baleful bafflement was as nothing compared to the fury etched on Hamilton's countenance following his latest altercation with Maldonado, which only happened after the McLaren driver had suffered another glitch in the pits with his mechanics behaving more like hapless novices at Swiss Toni's showroom than well-salaried members of an elite sporting organisation.
No wonder Hamilton flung his steering wheel out of the cockpit as he suffered the indignity of a fresh bout of "nul points"; and yet his fury was only matched by the elation on Alonso's face while he celebrated a fresh triumph against the odds in a car he is having to coax to the chequered flag every time he races.
In many respects, Alonso is the story of the season, because Ferrari were not offered a prayer of a chance by most observers at the end of a winter where they toiled to transcend mediocrity, yet the contrast between the 30-year-old's displays and those of his misfiring colleague, Felipe Massa, who is edging closer to the exit door with every GP, has been as stark as it has been detrimental to the Brazilian driver's reputation.
It still appears improbable that Alonso will be able to use this success – his second win of the summer – as a springboard to claim his third F1 crown, yet one should never dismiss this fellow's consummate professionalism and the capacity for eking out positive results from unpromising positions which he has displayed over the last three seasons.
Following Saturday's qualifying session, Alonso said, in a matter-of-fact monotone: "We are too slow".
But, 24 hours later, albeit with the benefit of Vettel's unexpected exit, Alonso pounced and subsequently moulded the proceedings to his advantage.
It is a rare gift and he has now established a 20-point cushion over Webber and lies 23 and 26 points respectively in front of Hamilton and Vettel, which speaks volumes for his race management.
Paul Di Resta has something of Alonso's quiet steel and perfectionist streak and the Scot put together another accomplished display to wind up seventh, two places behind his team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg, as the Force Indias celebrated an auspicious weekend.
Di Resta, who was operating on a one-stop strategy, was not helped when the safety car came out, allowing his opponents to change their tyres, but it would be no surprise if Ferrari study the present standings, which reveal that Massa has managed just 11 points in eight events – 100 fewer than Alonso – and invite the Scot to join the ranks at Maranello.
Ultimately, he has done enough to convince any doubters and seems blessed with the knack of avoiding the sort of pit fiascos and plain bad driving which have hindered his opponents.
But, if the old cliches are true and the winner takes it all, the day belonged to Alonso.