Giancarlo Fisichella was left as red as his Ferrari after crashing in final practice for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix.
Since confirmation of his switch from Force India to the Maranello marque just over a week ago, Fisichella has mentioned at virtually every opportunity he is realising a dream this weekend.
But the 36-year-old, who tomorrow will become the first Italian to race a Ferrari on his home track of Monza since Ivan Capelli in 1992, saw that dream turn into a nightmare.
Clearly still coming to grips with his new car, Fisichella ploughed into a tyre wall at the famed Parabolica, leaving the front-left wheel hanging on by only its tethers.
On entry into the long, sweeping right-hander at a speed of 200mph, the Roman was unable to control the power and careered across the gravel, likely hitting the barrier at around 80mph.
Unhurt, Fisichella quickly climbed out of the cockpit of his car and was soon back in the garage to explain his embarrassment to team boss Stefano Domenicali.
It is not what Domenicali would have expected of Fisichella, not after deciding to turn to his experience in the wake of the woeful two performances from Luca Badoer in Valencia and Belgium.
Unsurprisingly, with his incident 26 minutes into the hour-long session, Fisichella ultimately finished bottom of the timesheets, 2.615 seconds behind former Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil.
After taking pole and finishing second at Spa a fortnight ago, it could be Fisichella has given up a genuine shot at victory for Force India just to drive a Ferrari.
Sutil finished yesterday quickest, and today posted the fastest lap of the weekend to date, clocking one minute 23.336secs ahead of a potentially back-in-form Jenson Button.
Despite many suggesting the championship leader is under pressure after taking just 11 points from the last five grands prix, Button finished just 0.068secs behind Sutil in his Brawn GP.
Nick Heidfeld maintained BMW Sauber’s resurgence by finishing third, followed by Rubens Barrichello in his Brawn GP, and Lewis Hamilton who led the way early on before winding up fifth.
Heikki Kovalainen was right behind his McLaren team-mate in sixth, with Vitantonio Liuzzi performing well on his debut for Force India in seventh, whilst Renault’s Fernando Alonso was eighth.
On this occasion the top 14 were separated by just a second, which suggests today’s qualifying will be a nip-and-tuck affair.
As for title hopefuls Red Bull, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel appear to be struggling as they were 17th and 18th, although the duo are both conserving engines.