The mid-point of every Formula One World Championship season is when the rumours start to circulate on future driver prospects. The most high-profile centre of the rumours is Felipe Massa, whose dip in form is costing Ferrari dear.
In last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, he once more trailed team-mate Fernando Alonso to the flag. Massa today, sadly looks a far cry from the man who in 2008 came within a lap of winning the world championship.
That year Massa did everything right. By mid-season he had taken over the mantle as Ferrari's star performer from reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
In the final race of the season in his home city of Sao Paolo, Massa's driving was flawless. He claimed pole position, set the fastest lap and scored his sixth victory of the season, against Raikkonen's two.
On the last corner of the last lap of the race however, Lewis Hamilton achieved the fifth place he needed to win the Championship by a single point. Massa's dignity as he handled his disappointment on the winners' podium was the mark of a great sportsman.
Earlier that year, the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix was probably where the title was lost. From third place on the starting grid, Massa stormed past the McLarens of Heikki Kovalainen and pole-man Lewis Hamilton at the first corner. Hamilton then wrecked his tyres trying to match Massa and suffered a blow-out.
Just when Massa looked to have the race in the bag, his engine blew just three laps from the chequered flag. It handed Kovalainen his only Grand Prix victory and the points lost, ultimately cost Massa the title.
There was worse for Massa of course at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. He suffered serious head injuries in qualifying when hit by a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn. Some doubted we would ever race again.
Unlike many, I don't believe Massa's injury blunted his performance on his return. In the early part of the 2010 season, he frequently out-qualified and out-raced his new Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso.
However once the Spanish double world champion got into his stride, he simply crushed Massa's morale. Alonso it has to be said, has done nothing underhand in the team, he has simply proved masterful on the race track and more resilient when the team has struggled.
It has been particularly difficult for Ferrari in the past few seasons. The team seemed initially to struggle more than others to cope both with aerodynamic innovations such as blown diffusers and also with the demands of the faster wearing Pirelli tyres.
While Alonso has won three times this season and leads the Driver's Championship, Massa's results and self-confidence have taken a further battering. It took the first five races before, with ninth place in Bahrain, Massa scored any world championship points at all.
Although Massa has improved since then, the hard fact remains that of Ferrari's 189 Constructor's Championship points, Alonso has scored 164, Massa just 25. That tally means Ferrari lies fourth in the Constructors standings, behind Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus.
As the main prize fund for teams is based on constructor's points, fourth place could mean a twenty million dollar smaller payout for Ferrari at the end of the season. One wonders whether they can afford to keep an under-scoring driver another year.
Already the rumour mill has hinted Sergio Perez has been considered, but rejected as "needing more experience". Mark Webber admitted to discussions, but has re-signed with Red Bull, while Paul di Resta, Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen have been mooted too.
Certainly, it is noteworthy that the gossip is now focussing as much on "who" rather than "whether" a Massa replacement is being considered for the coming year. But whatever happens in his future, Massa should still be remembered as a great driver.