Hockenheim: Kamui Kobayashi had to make a hurried exit from his car on Friday when he felt the heat more than any other driver on a blazing day for opening practice for the German Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old Japanese realised something was wrong before his Caterham car began to create a burning smell and then burst into flames. (Also read: Hamilton tops P2)
On a day of searing heat when the track temperature at the Hockenheim circuit was recorded at 58 degrees Celsius, he reacted by leaping clear and joining the track marshals in fighting the blaze with a fire extinguisher.
"It all happened very fast in second free practice, when we went out for the first run early and completed ten laps," said Kobayshi, a driver known for his commitment and daring.
"The car balance felt much better with the changes we made over lunch, but it immediately felt like it was down on power, it just felt strange.
"We made a couple more mechanical changes and went back out for run two, but at the end of the second lap I lost any braking power and could smell burning. I knew something was wrong.
"I pulled over in turn 16 as the rear of the car was by then on fire and ran to grab an extinguisher so I could help to put the fire out. It was pretty hot.
"For me, that was obviously the end of the session. It looks like it was a fuel leak that started the fire, but we need more time tonight to find out exactly why that happened and then fix it."
Kobayashi lamented the fire, he said, because he felt that he and the Caterham team were enjoying a better day than they have for several Grands Prix -- just when the team, under new ownership, is in the midst of a re-structuring programme.
"I was disappointed because I felt we had a better performance in the car and now we have to work so hard to be ready for Saturday," he added.
"It was so hot today, but take a look at the car and you can see how hot it was for me."