Mark Webber’s Korean Grand Prix met a flame-grilled end on Sunday as he watched his RB9 go up in smoke.
Reeling from his 10-place qualifying penalty after hitching a lift home from Fernando Alonso in the Singapore Grand Prix two weeks ago, Webber started the race 13th.
After picking his way through the field in the early stages, he found himself stuck in seventh place behind the train caused by Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber.
Pitting later than his rivals, Webber was able to leap-frog his way up to fourth place, overtaking Alonso on the track and a slowing Lewis Hamilton in the pits.
But disaster struck when he emerged from the pits after his second stop.
Sergio Perez in the McLaren had a huge lock-up into Turn 1, and just in front of Webber, had a catastrophic tyre delamination, spreading debris across the track.
Webber took evasive action but it wasn’t enough as he picked up a puncture and had to pit again.
Now down the field and stuck behind the safety car, Webber had to restart his challenge for a good points scoring finish.
But as the field restarted, Force India driver Adrian Sutil lost control of his car at the end of the long straight, spinning backwards and hitting Webber’s sidepod.
Though the collision looked fairly tame, the Tilbrook-built car burst into flames, eliminating Webber for the second race in succession.
He said: “The incident with Sutil was obviously the end of my race.
“It was in Turn 3 on the restart, everyone bottles back up and I was looking for a big exit on the next straight to use some KERS on Daniel Ricciardo and the Williams in front.
“Then Sutil, I don’t know what happened, but obviously he hit me from the inside and that was that.
“There was quite a lot of damage at the back of the car and I hope it hasn’t gone towards the chassis – we will have to see before the next race.
“Before that I was very happy with how I drove and we’d got back to a very good position before I got the puncture.
“After the Pirelli tyre failure on Perez’ car, I was very lucky to miss the tread of the tyre that came off and then unbelievably I managed to get a puncture from going through the debris.”