Lewis Hamilton did not get an argument when he said that he had proved himself the equal of his world championship rivals Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso after his blistering drive at the Circuit of The Americas here on Sunday.
Even by his own exceptional standards it was a consummate drive by the champion of 2008 and, when he reflected on his victory in the US Grand Prix, he said: "I think I stamped my mark on the sport and showed I have the status that the others do. Even though I am not competing for first or second in the championship, I still hold that drive. I just beat the supposed best."
Hamilton, of course, had nothing to prove. He has long been recognised as one of the two or three leading drivers of his generation. And when he drives as he did here on Sunday, to chase down and eventually to overcome Vettel, he looks the best of them all. There was a touch of Marlon Brando's immortal "I coulda been a contender" speech from On the Waterfront when he spoke.
In pure sporting terms it is a shame that next Sunday's final race of the season, a shoot-out between Vettel and Alonso, with the former enjoying a 13-point advantage, does not include the third member of the triumvirate who currently dominate Formula One. But McLaren have been undermined by pit lane mistakes early in the season, followed by problems with reliability.
Hamilton added: "I think I have been driving at my best all year, getting stronger and stronger and this was my strongest performance of the year. To be able to push, and not make mistakes, and to hunt Sebastian down and see him make the mistakes is a great feeling.
"They say you are only as good as your last race. It would be nice to be battling for the championship but that is the way that it is, so I have to be grateful for where I am and what we have achieved."
Hamilton said that his fourth victory of the year was his best. "This weekend I was hungrier than ever. I think I have been on the first two rows almost all year. I have worked so hard this year to get that performance and I want to make sure I keep it."
Hamilton, who will finish with McLaren in Brazil, has held a farewell barbecue for the team. "We didn't stay and party but I got up in front of everyone to make a short speech. I will do a big speech at the factory but I wanted to thank everyone and to tell them I appreciated all of their hard work over the years."
His team-mate Jenson Button, meanwhile, has given warning that Hamilton will be a hard act to follow at McLaren. "It's going to be a tricky seat for Checo [Hamilton's replacement, Sergio Pérez] to fill. Lewis is a guy who has won the world championship and had so many wins and races with this team.
"It is a massive ask but what else can you do? You need to have someone in the car and he is quick. I've heard he's intelligent too.
"I don't know if he will be up to it straight away. He is going to be spending a lot of time in the UK at the factory.
"We will see what happens and I have a feeling he will be competitive, but of course he doesn't have the experience and I don't think he will be fighting at the front at the start of next season, but we might be surprised at the first race."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © David Wall