Lewis Hamilton has been forced onto the defensive by the barrage of criticism levelled at the Briton in the wake of his performance in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.
Hamilton had the opportunity at Fuji to strengthen his lead at the top of the drivers' standings and move a step closer to becoming the youngest world champion in Formula One history.
Instead, the 23-year-old suffered a rush of blood to the head that resulted in his lead over Ferrari's Felipe Massa being cut to five points with only the races in China and Brazil now remaining.
Hamilton's botched attempt at regaining the lead after he lost from pole position, forcing Kimi Raikkonen off the track and earning a drive-through penalty, paved the way for his sceptics to turn the screw.
The debate now is whether Hamilton is again starting to crack under the weight of pressure being exerted on his young shoulders as the title race draws to a close, as he did last year.
Hamilton readily concedes he is finding it difficult to cope with the intense spotlight focused on him at present, particularly at such a critical stage in the championship.
"It's not easy to always say or do the right thing, and when you're constantly being scrutinised it can be particularly difficult," said the McLaren star.
"Recently, there have been lots of different quotes attributed to me.
"Sometimes I've said things that have either come out the wrong way or been taken out of context, so people get a different feeling of what I've said when I haven't expressed myself correctly.
"I'm only human, and every now and then people make mistakes.
"Communication is so important in life and some of the things I've said were not meant to harm anyone.
"I don't feel like I've hurt anyone, and my family makes sure that doesn't happen."
Such a comment recently attributed to Hamilton quoted him as saying he felt he was a better driver than his hero Ayrton Senna.
Issuing a categorical denial, Hamilton added: "I never said that.
"I definitely wouldn't say it about Ayrton because he's my favourite driver.
"I think he's the best driver there ever was and, to this day, I still don't believe anyone would beat him.
"If I could achieve just a small part of what he's achieved, it would be a dream for me."
But it is easy to appreciate when such a remark gets aired in the public domain, Hamilton can be viewed by some as arrogant or over-confident.
In an attempt to vindicate himself, Hamilton added: "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.
"You have to have that belief to go out and win, and that's what helps you strive for a better performance and to achieve more in your life.
"I look at the other drivers and I want to beat them, but I would never say, 'I'm better than you'.
"I just think all these guys are the best and to be the best I have to beat them. That's how every racing driver sees things."
No wonder Hamilton has wished on occasion he could return to living a normal life, away from his current celebrity status, even though he maintains he has that area of his life "under control".
"I don't see myself as a celebrity," said Hamilton.
"I feel I'm the same guy I was before I got to F1 - just more measured, maybe.
"Of course, you do get people watching you all the time so you have to be careful about what you say or what you do.
"It's not easy to live like I used to, but I can still do it sometimes.
"You just do it with people you trust and just be smart about it."