|© AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Kimi Raikkonen watched the end of the Belgian Grand Prix from the garage for once as his long points-scoring run ended at 27 races because of right brake failure.
He is arguably the most consistent driver in Formula 1 and it was a rare sight to see his car crawl back to the Lotus team compound on Sunday.
It was the first time the 33-year-old Finn has failed to finish in 39 races – ensuring Nick Heidfeld’s 41 race-finishing streak remained untouched - and it cost him two places in the championship race, as he dropped to fourth overall.
Raikkonen, whose chances of repeating his 2007 title appear remote with only eight races remaining, said it was inevitable his run would come to an end.
"We finished a lot of races and had some good reliability. One day your luck has to run out and today was that day," said Raikkonen, who abandoned shortly after the halfway point of the 44-lap race through the Ardennes forest.
"There was really no point in trying to continue," he said. "There were some brake issues at the beginning of the race but we were managing them and it was going okay until we had to retire."
Raikkonen, who finished an impressive 3rd in the championship last year after two years away rally racing, last failed to finish a race at the German GP in July 2009 during a largely unhappy spell with Ferrari.
His future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks because he has yet to commit to Lotus for next season.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hinted that the door is still open for Raikkonen to replace Mark Webber who is retiring from F1 at the end of the season, and Raikkonen has even been linked with a move back to Ferrari as a potential replacement for Felipe Massa.
In contrast, teammate Romain Grosjean finished his first Belgian GP in his third attempt, scoring four points for his eighth place. The Frenchman had retired from both his previous races at Spa due to accidents – most notably last year when he caused a horrific first corner incident.
“It is good to finish the race without any mistakes, even if eighth place isn’t what we were hoping for this weekend,” he said.
Grosjean’s other race in Belgium was in 2009, when he drove for Renault. Incidentally, he had failed to complete the first lap in each of his first two attempts at the circuit.
With inputs from F1 Pulse