Just as Sebastian Vettel appeared all set to revive his title hopes, the Ferrari driver suffered a major blow when he was denied a chance of qualifying for the Malaysian GP.
Ferrari undertook a precautionary power unit change ahead of the crucial session following an issue which emerged in FP3.
But Vettel reported a problem immediately after taking to the track in Q1, claiming he had lost drive.
An inspection of the car back in the Ferrari garage appeared to indicate only a minor issue but efforts were ultimately abandoned, leaving the German driver to start his race tomorrow from the back of the grid.
A pragmatic Vettel believed his team had done all it could to provide him with the best opportunity to qualify, but it just wasn't met to be.
"It's part of motor racing," lamented Vettel.
"For sure it's not what you want, especially on a day when you feel you've got it in you and in the car. But unfortunately we won't be able to prove that."
Vettel insisted his team was right to change his engine after FP3 as a precautionary measure.
"Definitely the right decision. We need to see what was the problem but we managed to do the change successfully in time, so the guys worked a miracle."