For only the second time this season, title challengers Red Bull Racing left a track pointless after a grand prix, but Mark Webber contended that given the Milton Keynes-based squad's performance in Valencia this weekend, they got precisely what they deserved.
Only once before in 2009 has the team gone away empty-handed – in the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix Down Under in Melbourne back in March – but at least on that occasion Sebastian Vettel had been running up in second position before coming together with Robert Kubica in the BMW-Sauber in the race's closing stages, putting both men out of action on the spot.
This time Vettel ran no higher than fifth – albeit ahead of long-time world championship leader Jenson Button – before suffering his second costly Renault engine failure of the weekend, after earlier losing time to a fuel rig issue in his first pit-stop which necessitated two visits in quick succession.
Team-mate Webber in the sister RB5, meanwhile, struggled for pace from the opening practice session on Friday morning to the chequered flag on Sunday afternoon, and despite similarly running ahead of Button for much of the grand prix, the Australian would ultimately cross the finish line eight seconds shy of the final points-paying position in ninth.
“No gains for us today, which is the first time in a long time,” rued the New South Wales native, who has also slipped back behind the second Brawn GP entry of European Grand Prix winner Rubens Barrichello into third spot in the title standings for his troubles. “The long and short of it was that I wasn't quick enough today – it was a tough race.
“I've been struggling all weekend and I think I got the result I deserved, which was no points, unfortunately. We were a little bit unlucky around the pit-stops with Lewis [Hamilton] coming back out in front, but that's the way it goes. The pit-stops weren't great, as I might have been a bit long on positioning, so not the best day for us – but we will dust ourselves down and move on to Spa.”
“The biggest problem today was the first stop,” added an understandably frustrated Vettel. “We weren't able to get fuel in the car, so we had to come in again. We were lucky to make it back for a second stop. The race was lost already at that point but then, a couple of laps on, I had a problem with the engine and I had to retire.
“It's not good. In terms of the championship, I will fight until the last breath, but it's not good to have retired when you're hunting and want to get more points than your opponent. You're in a position to do it, but then you don't finish the race...”
Indeed, the points ceded to Button and Brawn GP mean Webber is now 20.5 markers adrift, Vettel 25 and Red Bull 27.5 in the constructors' chase. Though never expecting the Valencia Street Circuit to be one of the RB5's better tracks over the course of the campaign, still the energy drinks-backed outfit's team principal Christian Horner acknowledged that all-in-all, it had been a weekend to forget.
“A bitterly disappointing day,” summarised the Englishman. “A fuel rig failure on Sebastian's car, followed by an engine failure – which is the second of the weekend – was costly. Unfortunately with Mark, we just weren't quick enough today. He held Jenson behind him for a long time, but Jenson was too quick and jumped us with a very quick 'out' lap. Unfortunately Mark was not quick enough to hold him behind.”
“This race ended a nightmare weekend for us,” echoed Fabrice Lom, principal track support engineer for engine-supplier Renault. “We had two engine failures on Sebastian's car, so it's a black weekend. I can only apologise to Red Bull Racing and Sebastian in particular for this reliability issue and assure them that we will work as hard as possible to ensure it doesn't happen again – but the end of the season will now be tough on the engine side for him.”