Mark Webber’s hopes of back-to-back podium finishes ended prematurely at the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday as he was forced into retirement while in second place.
The Australian, who is retiring at the end of the season, had lead the race in the early stages after starting on a different strategy to those around him.
But his start could barely have gone any worse. Starting fourth, he dropped back behind the fast starting Felipe Massa before colliding with Kimi Raikkonen, and bouncing into Fernando Alonso before the second corner.
Fortunately, he didn’t suffer any major damage and could continue.
As those on the softer Pirelli tyre pitted around him, Webber was promoted to the lead.
Webber’s pace looked good as his strategy looked to be playing into his hands, especially with team-mate Sebastian Vettel having to fight through traffic to get into clear air.
But once up to third, Vettel began closing the gap to him. Reacting, Webber made two stops in quick succession, getting a short stint on the soft tyre out of the way to begin a late challenge on the would-be champion.
But with 19 laps remaining, Webber’s race engineer told him to stop the car immediately after suffering an alternator failure.
“Obviously I’m pretty disappointed with today’s race,” he said afterwards. “But there is not much I can do, the alternator went wrong with very short notice so we had to stop straight away.
“It’s tough because we did a lot of things right this weekend, but I’ve got a smile on my face as I could not have done any more.”
Webber congratulated his team-mate Vettel on securing his fourth title.
The Austalian was pipped to the 2010 crown - the first of Vettel’s quartet - but the pair haven’t seen eye-to-eye in the past.
But Webber was magnanimous, saying: “Well done to Seb on his championship and also to all the team. To get a fourth title is amazing.
“It’s been a great job by the whole team to achieve the title four years on the trot and it has once again set itself as the benchmark for the others.”
Webber sits in fifth place in the world championship standings, 21 points behind Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton with three rounds remaining, but still without a win this season.