Pastor Maldonado's heavy crash into a wall on the final lap of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix may have shattered his car and the Williams team's hopes of a strong points finish, but not the enthusiasm his drive created about the season ahead.
Williams slide over the past decade from pre-eminent F1 power to also-rans had been regretted by everyone involved in the sport, and while the team left Australia empty handed, Maldonado's impressive race hinted an overdue revival of the famous Williams team.
Maldonado was running in sixth place on the final lap - putting massive pressure on fifth-placed Fernando Alonso of Ferrari - but the Venezuelan pushed a little too hard trying to find a way past, lost control of the car and went nose first into a wall with heavy impact.
Had he managed to finish sixth, he would have delivered Williams eight championship points. In the entire 2011 season, the team collected just five points.
"Our pace was quick and consistent and we were looking competitive right up until the moment I had on the last lap, which is very important," Maldonado said. "Unfortunately, I just lost the back of the car while pushing Alonso and I had nowhere to go."
Even Alonso sympathized with Maldonado, though the Spaniard was relieved to hold him off through the closing laps.
"I felt sorry for him because it was a shame after a fantastic race for him," Alonso said. "Fighting for fifth or sixth place, to lose your position six corners from the end.
"But at the same time I breathe (easier) because for eight laps it was a very tough fight."
Maldonado is one of a few drivers in Formula One who have had to carry the tag of 'pay driver', suggesting his employment at Williams owes more to the massive sponsorship he brings to the team from the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA rather than on merit.
Sunday's strong showing provided a riposte to such criticisms. Before pressuring Alonso in the closing stages, Maldonado had been right on the tail of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Mark Webber, even attempting an audacious passing move on the latter.