Rewind 10 years to the end of the 2003 season, and there are very similar parallels to today.
A German driver had clinched his fourth successive drivers’ title and was almost unbeatable. Almost.
Yes, 10 years ago today, Michael Schumacher was beaten in a race between his championship-winning Ferrari F2003-GA and an Italian Airforce Eurofighter Typhoon over distances of 600, 900 and 1,200 metres.
The rules of the contest stipulated that the aircraft, which can reach Mach 2 when airbourne, had to keep its wheels on the runway as Schumacher raced alongside it on an asphalt track.
As reported by the BBC at the time, the Eurofighter weighed in at just over 21,000kg, whilst Schumacher’s aerodynamically modified Ferrari came in at 600kg.
The weight advantage paid dividends for the Ferrari over the shorter distance as the heavier Typhoon took time to get up to speed, but the aircraft edged the Ferrari over 900 metres before stretching away over 1,200.
The spectacle of cars versus aircraft is nothing new with Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari 126 beating an F-104 over 1,000 metres back in 1981.
Earlier this year, both Red Bull and Mercedes put their cars to the test against jet aircrafts.
Neel Jani pitted his RB7 against a Pampa II fighter in Argentina whilst Lewis Hamilton raced his Mercedes against an RAF Hawk T1. However, the pilot enjoyed something of an advantage on both occasions as he used the sky above whilst the drivers were left on the runway!