An eventful and marathon inaugural Korean Grand Prix, beginning in boredom and ending in darkness, has changed the face of the 2010 World Championship fight.
Championship leader Mark Webber lost his 14-point lead with a crash on the slippery track, and his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel failed to pick up the pieces because of a Renault engine failure.
"Totally my mistake," admitted Webber after his crash, which also took out Nico Rosberg.
The result means Ferrari's Fernando Alonso – who laughed hysterically on the radio at the chequered flag - is the new championship leader, 11 points ahead of Webber with two races to go.
"Nothing has changed really," said the Spaniard. "We all know the new points system. Anything can happen."
After driving through the carnage and finishing second, Lewis Hamilton is now third in the championship, 21 points behind but four ahead of Vettel.
"It's obviously not a nice moment," said Vettel, the pole sitter and leader until his failure, as the race finished in near-darkness.
Jenson Button, 12th at the finish and among the slowest cars on track, is now a distant 42 points behind.
"I'm not really in it anymore," said the reigning World Champion on BBC television.
Vettel Failure A Surprise Admits Red Bull
A gutted Red Bull team on Sunday night was rueing a catastrophic Korean Grand Prix, where Mark Webber lost the championship lead, and Sebastian Vettel the race.
The immediate attention centred on pole sitter and race leader Vettel's Renault engine failure, which Helmut Marko said took the team and its supplier by complete surprise.
"It did," the Austrian said on German television RTL. "It's our first engine failure this year."
"The mileage was at about 1600 kilometres, and normally the average (life) is 2000-2100," added Marko.
"Something broke in the valve area, so it's the first time. On Friday we were using an engine with much higher mileage," said the team's motorsport consultant.
He advised German Vettel, 23, not to give up.
"It's not easy, but there are still 50 points to get," Marko said. "Alonso is on his last engine. We're not giving up."
Renault apologised for the failure.
Button will help Hamilton 'voluntarily' - Whitmarsh
As the Yeongam paddock emptied on Sunday night, the only talking point was the title contending teams' driver strategies for the now two-race run to the championship crown.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said it is a "no brainer" that Jenson Button should now back his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton, while announcing that Sebastian Vettel still has a green light to push for the title.
"For us, the strategy is clear," McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "We don't really have to say anything to our drivers.
"Jenson will offer his help to Hamilton voluntarily, because he knows that we have treated him fairly throughout the year. And because he knows that he will win now only with a miracle," added the Briton.
Red Bull's Mark Webber and Vettel are separated by a smaller points margin, but Whitmarsh said "logic dictates that all the eggs are now put in the Webber basket".
"But this team's heart beats for Vettel," he said. "There has been so much unrest that I am not expecting a clear statement from them."
After a catastrophic day in Korea for Red Bull, where both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber retired, the team's boss said both drivers will still be given a clear run to the Abu Dhabi finale.
A smarter strategy might be to fully back Webber, who is 11 points shy of Fernando Alonso's new championship lead, while Vettel is asked to play a supporting role due to his 25 point deficit.
"It would be wrong to do that. Our strategy will be to push both drivers," a dejected Horner told BBC television in Korea.