A summer heatwave and lengthy gaps between races make for dangerously idle hands and mischievous gossip in the F1 paddock, with this year's prime subject for speculation being Lewis Hamilton
and his state of mind out on the track following his latest reported break up from long-time girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, which Hamilton himself conceded was proving hard for him to put to one side even at race weekends.
"I wear my heart on my sleeve and that gets me in trouble a lot of the time and I generally find it very, very hard to fight my emotions," he explained recently, talking with Sky Sports F1'
s Martin Brundle in Germany. "You have different people who are able to hold in their emotions - I have a Finnish trainer, for example, who doesn't show any emotion and they are always able to control it.
"I'm going through ... I'm trying my hardest to be positive but I'm going through a really, really tough time at the moment with the loss of someone really, really special in my life," he admitted, confirming that he was referring to Scherzinger. "My world's turned upside down."
Coming into the 2013 season, Hamilton had been widely expected to be installed as Mercedes' undisputed number one driver after he joined the team at the start of the year. It was a suspicion that was borne out when team orders were used to prevent Nico Rosberg
overtaking him in Malaysia, which secured the Briton a podium position. But although he's gone on to pick up two further podium finishes in 2013, Hamilton has been unable to improve on third place so far this season and instead it's Rosberg who seems to have been boosted by the arrival of a new team mate, leading him to pull off two Grand Prix wins at Monaco and Silverstone.
Hamilton has still been very strong in qualifying and has started on the front row for six of the nine races so far this year, including back-to-back poles in the last two races. However, tyre wear issues with the 2013 Pirellis have seen him drop back in every race bar Sepang, leaving the 28-year-old increasingly frustrated and outspoken as the season has gone on.
"The car is a disaster on heavy fuel loads," he said after the German Grand Prix, uncharacteristically outspoken and negative about the state of things at Brackley. "It's always a shock when a race goes bad. You never expect it to go as bad as it does. You find you are digging yourself out of a hole right towards the end of a race when all of a sudden the car starts working. It's very frustrating.
"I'm not really thinking about the championship now," he added. "There's really no point." He was also put out not to be able to take part in the test of new-specification Pirelli compound tyres last week at Silverstone, saying: "People don't appreciate how big a negative it is for us not to do the test."
Such downbeat talk from Hamilton ahead of the midpoint of the current world championship season has led some in the F1 paddock to wonder if his mental approach to the day job in light of personal stresses and strains away from the car is once again proving to be his Achilles Heel - and what that might mean for Hamilton not only in 2013 but looking further ahead in his career. Will such worries always risk thwarting a second world championship title bid?
Hamilton and Scherzinger were reported to have broken up at the start of July, and his posts on Twitter in the last few days suggest that he's taken the end of their long-term relationship very much to heart. "If you've found that special someone, don't EVER let them go no matter what!! Nothing in this world is more important," he posted on the social media network.