While all the teams in Barcelona for the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix were suffering from tyre degradation issues, none of them suffered from the same sudden reduction in the number
of tyres as Catherham's Giedo van der Garde did on lap 21 of the race.
Van der Garde had just pitted for a second time in the race when he realised straight away that there was something wrong at the back of the car. He radioed into the team who advised him to nurse the car back to pit lane as carefully as he could, but the tyre flew off and bounced into the gravel trap anyway leaving him struggling back on the remaining three wheels.
"It's obviously such a shame that my race ended like it did today, but sometimes these things happen," signed van der Garde. "When I came in for my second stop I could feel that there was a problem with the left rear as soon as I rejoined the track.
"At some point the wheel came off so I tried to make it back to the garage to see if I could continue, but once the team had taken a close look it was clear I had to retire the car," he added.
As well as ending van der Garde's race it also earned the Caterham team a 10,000 euro fine. Although cited as an 'unsafe pit release' because the tyre wasn't fitted securely by the pit crew, it was clear that the race stewards were more miffed by the instructions that Caterham had given van der Garde to make it back to pit lane rather than to park the car immediately after the problem became clear on the outlap.
"As I say, it's a shame but it's another lesson for me and the team," admitted van der Garde. "Sometimes you don't have the luck, but we have a lot of positives to take from this weekend.
"The updates on the car are working well, and we have more to come," he said. "Our race pace is really good, strong enough to fight with a few cars ahead and my qualie performance was easily my best this year."
Putting Barcelona behind him, van der Garde was excited to look ahead to the next race on the calendar.
"Next up we go to Monaco, a track I know well and one where I was on the podium twice last year in GP2 and in Formula Renault 3.5," he pointed out. "Another qualifying performance like I had in Spain, and a race like I had until retiring today, and I think we can do well."
Van der Garde's retirement from the Spanish Grand Prix left Charles Pic as Caterham's sole representative for the remainder of the race on the Circuit de Catalunya.
"I'm really happy with today's performance - finishing 17th doesn't really tell the whole story as we ended the race right behind one of the Williams cars which shows that we've made some good progress this weekend," said Pic. "The car felt great for the whole race.
"It's good to have a Sunday like this," said Pic who clearly thought it was a bit of a breakthrough moment with his new team, after joining Caterham from Marussia over the winter. "After seeing the pace we had today, more to come from the race five update and the fact the team has been strong there in the past, I think [Monaco] could be a really interesting weekend for us."