Michael Schumacher was minutes away from cutting Fernando Alonso's Formula One lead to single digits.
Then it all went bad at the Hungarian Grand Prix for the seven-time series champion.
Alonso dropped out of Sunday's race after crashing on the 52nd lap, and it looked as if Schumacher would make up ground on the Spaniard in the drivers' standings.
But on the 68th of 70 laps, Schumacher pulled into the pits with a shredded tire and was out of the race. He ended up eighth, getting one point to cut Alonso's lead to 10 -- 100-90.
"I am very disappointed. We had a great opportunity but we did not take it," Schumacher said. "The weekend and especially the race was something of a rollercoaster."
Jenson Button won the race, followed by Pedro De la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld. Schumacher originally finished ninth, but Robert Kubica was disqualified when his BMW-Sauber was found to be 2kg underweight.
"It's easy to say that this situation could have been avoided, but there is no point in crying over spilled milk," Ferrari team boss Jean Todt said. "There is not much we're taking home from this GP."
Schumacher had the fastest car in qualifying, but a two-second penalty dropped him to 11th in qualifying. He was caught passing two cars under a red flag in Saturday's practice.
Although Schumacher started four places ahead of Alonso -- who also was penalized in qualifying and started with the second fastest car in 15th -- it was Alonso who passed Schumacher and even lapped him on the 24th lap.
Then another turnaround.
Kimi Raikkonen smashed into the back of Vitantonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso on the 26th lap. That brought out the safety car, closed the field and suddenly Schumacher was just 10 seconds back in eighth place when the safety car went off.
Cars dropped out, and Alonso and Schumacher were flying when the track dried from an early rain. But it soon came to an abrupt end.
"There are still five races to go," Schumacher said, looking ahead to the next race on Aug. 27 in Istanbul. "Nothing is yet lost and I will give it my all in trying to win the title."