Lewis Hamilton edged closer to rival Max Verstappen in the race for the 2021 title after another dramatic weekend in Qatar.
Amid all sorts of off-track action, Hamilton and Mercedes came out on top at the Losail International Circuit by storming to pole position and the race win, with Verstappen and Red Bull unable to answer their rapid pace.
Verstappen's chances were hurt by a five-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently for double waved yellow flags in qualifying, but he recovered from seventh to second - while posting the fastest lap - to limit the damage.
Ahead of the final two rounds of the season in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, Verstappen sits eight points clear of Hamilton, prompting plenty of debate across international media as to which driver holds the advantage.
"First match point to Verstappen"
In Italy, although Hamilton's superiority last weekend was noted, the feeling remains that it is Verstappen's world title to lose.
"Hamilton won't stop, but Verstappen continues his rise and remains in the lead," wrote the Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Verstappen's first laps were magical. Once again the Dutchman did not give up while the Mercedes and his Red Bull car were no match for each other. Yet he remains the favourite to win the world title."
In the Corriere dello Sport, the focus was on the first opportunity for the championship to be settled, which Verstappen will get at the next Grand Prix.
"Hamilton was the boss in Qatar, but Verstappen has his hands on the first match point. It is clear that the one who makes a mistake will pay the price," read their report.
"Mercedes were hit with penalties in Brazil and Red Bull got one with Verstappen for ignoring yellow flags in Qatar. Yet the Dutchman struck back hard at the start, immediately making up places and limiting the damage.
"But the driver of the day was, of course, Fernando Alonso. His performance was like a small but true work of art."
Can Alonso challenge for the title in 2022?
Unsurprisingly, the Spanish press heaped praise on Alonso for his first podium finish since the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix, and pointed to next year's regulation changes, which the two-time World Champion hopes to exploit.
"Alonso's perfect plan is working; the sights are already set on 2022," wrote sports newspaper Marca, giving him a score of nine out of 10 for expertly managing the risk of a tyre failure "to return to the podium in style".
Also turning their attention to the 2021 title fight, the report continued: "It is thrilling because the difference is only eight points. Verstappen got away well at the start and ensured that his grid penalty did not cost him much."
Verstappen compared to Hamilton
The theme continued in France, with the spotlight remaining on the close fight between Verstappen and Hamilton, and Alonso's standout performance.
"Verstappen limited the damage in Qatar and can be crowned World Champion in a fortnight's time in Saudi Arabia," wrote L'Equipe.
"Hamilton took the win, but Verstappen impressed by driving a race like Hamilton in Brazil, in which he was able to make up many places.
"Still, the Dutchman was not the biggest surprise of the day. That title obviously went to Alonso, the Alpine driver doing a phenomenal job by finishing third."
"The battle is on a knife-edge"
Given Mercedes' improved performance in recent races, the BBC commented that a record-breaking eighth title "is very much within Hamilton's grasp", but that for now, "the advantage still lies with Verstappen".
"Hamilton's second win in succession, in a largely dreary Qatar Grand Prix, has left the Formula 1 championship battle on a knife-edge heading into the final two races of the season," read the British outlet's summary of events.
With 52 points up for grabs at the remaining two races, their report emphasised: "Neither driver is in a comfortable position."
F1 will head to Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2021, and RacingNews365.com recently paid a visit to the spectacular Jeddah Corniche Circuit.