Lewis Hamilton has always been supremely confident, a young man so unshakeable in his self-belief that some have accused him of arrogance.
The 23-year-old McLaren driver assured an appeal court hearing last month he was the best in the business and in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix he can hand over the proof by becoming Formula One's youngest champion.
There have been doubters since the he made a sensational debut last year, reeling off nine successive podiums only to blow his chance of becoming the first rookie champion in the final two races.
After Hamilton flopped from pole position in Japan this month in a moment of first-corner madness, there were those who saw history repeating itself and detected an inner fragility behind the polished facade.
Questions were raised about whether he could see the bigger picture, was susceptible to pressure and mentally equipped to race strategically.
Attacked on all sides by rivals criticising his driving, and with former world champions urging him to calm down, Hamilton showed at Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix he was determined to become Britain's first champion since Damon Hill in 1996.
He took pole position, set the fastest lap and won with ease to head for Brazil with a seven-point cushion over Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
Sao Paulo, the birth and final resting place of his hero and triple champion Ayrton Senna, would be a fitting backdrop to Hamilton's coronation.
Last year he arrived at Interlagos for the season-ender leading double world champion Fernando Alonso by four points and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen by seven.
Alonso was the obvious threat but it was Raikkonen who snatched the crown by a single point after Hamilton struggled to seventh place.
This year he has sounded more humble.
"I would never say I was better than anyone else. But I am a Formula One driver and all of us have to believe in ourselves to get to where we are," said Hamilton before the China race.
"You have to have that belief to go out and win. That's what helps you strive for better performance and to achieve more in your life. I look at the other drivers and I want to beat them."
Hamilton, the first black driver in Formula One and a winner in every category he has entered, has had something special from the moment he first stepped into a rented go-kart on a Spanish holiday and imagined he was Senna.
McLaren have backed him for more than a decade, with team boss Ron Dennis taking note when the 10-year-old walked up to him at an awards ceremony in London, looked him straight in the eye and said he wanted to drive for his team one day.
Hamilton, always intensely loyal to McLaren, has said he feels born to race and destined to be a world champion.
He showed last year he was in awe of no reputation, with Spaniard Alonso discovering his rookie team mate was not one for playing supporting roles.
By the end of 2007, Alonso was heading back to Renault and Hamilton was being hailed as a future great.
This season Hamilton, tipped to become Britain's highest-earning sportsman, has presented himself as better prepared, fitter, hungrier and wiser.
It has not all been plain sailing. In a championship where the leading contenders have seemed intent on throwing away their advantage, he has made errors on and off the track but come out mentally stronger.
Hamilton's move to Switzerland drew criticism before the season started when he said it was to protect his privacy rather than the tax reasons connected with a contract tying him to McLaren until 2012.
Newspapers derided him as a 'Crash Dummy' at the Canadian Grand Prix in June when he rammed into the back of Raikkonen's stationary Ferrari, waiting for a red light to change at the pitlane exit.
There have also been unforgettable moments, such as the victory at Silverstone in the wet which was hailed as one of the sport's great performances after he lapped all but the second and third placed finishers and won by more than a minute.
He was also supreme in Australia, Monaco, Germany and China.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)
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