Lewis Hamilton's chances of delivering a parting farewell gift to the McLaren
team in the form of a 21st Grand Prix victory together before he moves to Mercedes crumbled on lap 19 of the 2012 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when the car abruptly died.
“I had a fuel pressure problem," he said after his premature exit from the race while comfortably in the lead ahead of Kimi Raikkonen
and Pastor Maldonado. "It was very sudden, I was just entering a corner and the car just died on me."
It had been the first time that Hamilton had led a race since September's Singapore race, which also ended in equally sudden fashion with a gear box failure just 22 laps in.
“I'm gutted," Hamilton admitted of this latest setback. "I'd had really good pace all weekend and I feel certain we could have won today ... I was cruising and still pulling away when I had my problem."
Hamilton did have an early scare in the race when he almost lost the lead to Kimi Raikkonen
following his only mistake of the day.
“The only mistake I made all weekend was having a brief moment on lap two," he admitted. "My brakes weren't fully up to temperature and I locked up into turn 8. After that, however, everything was going really well - the car was a dream to drive."
Hamilton now has just two races remaining with McLaren, the team he's been with ever since his début in F1 back in 2007, and he is determined to finish on a high if he possibly can.
"We'll have more opportunities in Austin and Sao Paulo. I hope we can get back to the front – I'd love to take a win or two more for Vodafone McLaren
Mercedes before the end of the season," he said.
Meanwhile his team mate Jenson Button
had a solid drive to fourth place, just missing out on a podium position after a late overtaking move by Sebastian Vettel
proved impossible for Button to ward off.