SINGAPORE - Nico Rosberg's world championship hopes were struck a huge blow on Sunday when his Mercedes limped out of the Singapore Grand Prix with electrical failure.
The German, who arrived at the Marina Bay street circuit 22 points clear of his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the title race, had to start from the pitlane when his car remained stationary for the warm-up lap.
His team managed to get him moving from the pitlane but after trailing the rest of the pack, and lapping at five seconds slower than Hamilton, he crawled into the pits on lap 15 and retired, waving his hands in defeat.
"It wasn't so much a roller coaster ride because it was all downhill for me," he told the BBC.
"It was very frustrating to drive behind a Caterham and sit on a grid and watch everyone else leave. But that is the way it is.
"I was stuck with no power, only able to shift gear pedals, but even there not every gear. It was all over the place." Rosberg's problems began before the floodlit race began, he had to change his steering wheel three times in the final 25 minutes before the start.
"The steering wheel did not work and then the whole car wasn't working," he reported.
"We need to find out what the problem was because again we have a reliability problem.
"We've had a few this year and that's our weakness. We need to get to the bottom of it and make the car 100 per cent reliable." With the second spot on the grid empty Hamilton, now the sole occupier of the front row, made a perfect start, leading the pack from Red Bull's defending champion Sebastian Vettel.
The Briton had qualified a mere 0.007 seconds quicker than Rosberg on Saturday.
The safety car came out on lap 32 for five laps after an incident between Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez, with the front wing of Perez's Force India coming off.
Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez and Kamui Kobayashi were also forced to retire.