Having begun the Belgian Grand Prix amid '300 not out' headlines, F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello's weekend came to a shuddering halt reminiscent of a Pakistani batting display (albeit without the suspicion of betting scams) as he lasted less than a lap of Spa-Francorchamps before crashing out.
The Brazilian was a focus of attention in the build-up to the penultimate European round of the 2010 season, sharing centre stage with the five title contenders, but ended his 300th appearance sitting in a pile of shattered carbonfibre after denting the aspirations of one of that quintet at the Bus Stop chicane. The sole top ten runner starting the race on the harder prime Bridgestone tyre, Barrichello hit a wet patch under braking and, with his wheels locked up, skated into the side of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari. Although the Spaniard survived the brutal hit to race on, Barrichello's 300th appearance proved to be one of his shortest.
"Despite my experience, it was very difficult to know how wet the track was on the opening lap," the veteran admitted, "It was fully wet when I came into Blanchimont, and I was closing the door on Nico Rosberg but, when I touched the brakes, even though it was quite early, it wasn't sufficient to stop the car, which went straight on into Alonso, for which I'm sorry.
"It's also sad for the team. We've had such a positive weekend that a good result would have been a nice conclusion. However, despite not having a good outcome in my 300th race, I'm confident we will go well in the 301st!"
With Barrichello out so early, Williams' hopes were left resting with rookie team-mate Nico Hulkenberg but, before the first pit window, the German lost full throttle control, which triggered a series of difficult stops, challenging car control in changeable weather and constant revisions to tyre plans on the pit-wall. Despite a number of considered gambles to retrieve position, Hulkenberg could only finish a difficult day in 14th place.
"The problem made the car very difficult to handle, so we made an unscheduled stop, but the engine died in the box and had to be re-started," he revealed, having occupied a point-scoring position early on, "As a result, I dropped position and then had to cope in the rain without the full engine control, which caused some spins. We took some tyre gambles at the end to try and recover something."
Technical director Sam Michael admitted that it had 'not been a good day', but insisted that the team took encouragement from the improved pace shown across the weekend, and hoped to be able to make more of that when the series moves on to Monza and then into the five 'flyaway' races that conclude the campaign.