While Formula One waits for a race in Las Vegas that has more to do with showbiz and celebrity than motor racing, the great impresario Fernando Alonso turned in a showstopper in Brazil.
The double world champion and oldest driver on the grid drove a race for the purists and one that held even newcomers to F1 in awe.
The Spanish champion had held off Red Bull’s Sergio Perez until the final laps but could do nothing to stop the Mexican driver finally going past in a simply faster car.
“Can you hear the drums Fernando?’ The words sung by Abba were remembered by some in the adoring crowd when the great Spaniard defied the odds.
Perez passed, but Alonso never gives up and although he said after the race he thought it was all over after his master class in defensive driving.
Then Perez made the slightest of mistakes. It was the last last lap and to quote Alonso, the Red Bull driver missed the apex of the corner by a metre.
It was enough for the Spaniard to swoop past in the Aston Martin and regain third place and the podium by a bare five hundredths of a second as they hit the line side-by-side.
Fernando could hear the drums beating!
Max Verstappen in the other Red Bull was well down the road ahead of Lando Norris in the McLaren.
It was the 17th win for the season for the triple world champion, but on the podium it was Alonso the ecstatic Brazilian crowd seemed to think had won the race.
The 42-year-old has lost none of his chutzpah in the car and on the podium and it only makes one think of championships he might have won had he not made some poor team choices during his career.
He walked away from F1 to drive in the Indianapolis 500 and twice won the Le Mans 24-hour classic.
Those ahead of him on the podium at the Interlagos circuit at Sao Paulo on Sunday also deserved the plaudits of the crowd.
Verstappen never looked in doubt as he swept from second on the grid to the lead in the first turn with polesitter Charles Leclerc then sliding into the barriers and out of the race.
What came first?
Was it “the hydraulics” as the Ferrari driver lamented sitting in the damaged car, or did that come after a mistake when he lost control of the car and hit the tech-pro?
Back on the pit wall, Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur put his arm around the shoulders of his disconsolate driver. The tears were close.
Verstappen’s dominance and the resurgence of McLaren at the front of the grid have come to be expected.
There is Max and there is Max!
Not only is the car dominant but Max Verstappen and designer Adrian Newey’s RB19 have only failed to impress once this season; at Singapore, which no one has been able to explain.
Not only are driver and car the class of the field, the Honda engine in the Red Bull has been transformed by the Japanese manufacturer from being so far off the pace that Honda motor sport chiefs fell on their samurai sword rather than suffer further disgrace.
Now the Hondas engine and the car it drives is the fastest on the grid, overpowering Mercedes and Ferrari.
Mercedes boss and team principal Toto Wolff makes no attempt to conceal his disappointment and frustration over being unable to provide a car to put seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and teammate George Russell back at the sharp end of the grid.
The car did “not deserve to win a race,” said Wolff after the Brazil Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who finished sixth, said he was happy there were only two races remaining, at Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, before 2024 and a new car to challenge the raging Red Bulls.
Meanwhile, the AlphaTauris of the Red Bull sister team are climbing up the grid. Daniel Ricciardo put the AlphaTauri on the second row of the grid at Mexico last week and has inspired Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda to top ten qualifying places and race point finishes.
Brazil, however, was a disaster for the Australian driver whose car was damaged by a flying tire from a collision between Alex Albon in the much-improved Williams and Kevin Magnussen in the Haas.
Australian rookie Oscar Piastri in the second McLaren was clipped amid the chaos and he and Ricciardo had to go into the pits for repairs.
Because they left the circuit before the red flag came out to stop the race, they were forced to restart from the pit lane and a lap down.
They ended the race racing each other at the tail of the field. Ricciardo delivered a team radio rant over “ridiculous” FIA rules that presented them from being allowed to complete the lap they missed behind the safety car.
That would have made sense after mechanics kept them in the race by repairing the damage while debris was removed from the track but it was not to be and bears thinking about.
Turning the air blue on world television is a big negative, but it did show that Ricciardo has gained enough confidence to say something after his lacklustre performances when driving for McLaren.
Carlos Sainz finished sixth for Ferrari and George Russell retired this Mercedes when rising oil temperatures threatened to destroy the engine.