It’s difficult to know what went on in the mind of a 4-times world champion who decided to risk an entire race weekend before the first corner on lap one of a 63 lap race and effectively hand victory to Lewis Hamilton on a platter. Vettel won his four championships with Red Bull, in a dominant car and with very little opposition. He is the Playstation F1 champion, however when faced with serious competition Vettel seems to become flustered and desperate and the first lap collision at the 2017 Singapore GP which he clearly caused demonstrates this.
After securing pole position on Saturday and winning many plaudits Vettel lost it as he made a poor start on race day. The race began under wet conditions, a first for Singapore, Hamilton started the race in 5th the Mercedes chassis not suited to the tight, twisty nature of the street circuit.
Ahead were Raikkonen and the two Red Bulls, Vettel perched at the top of the pile with Verstappen in second. When the reds lights switched off Vettel made a poor start and was soon outflanked by Verstappen who was outflanked by the faster starting Ferrari of Raikkonen.
Vettel managed to regain momentum and drew level with the Red Bull and Raikkonen’s Ferrari, as turn one approached Vettel was slightly ahead. The race leader then decided to turn in on Verstappen who was side-by-side with Raikkonen, this move triggered a three-car collision.
Verstappen was in the middle of a Ferrari sandwich and clipped the rear side of Raikkonen’s car breaking the right rear wheel clean off. Raikkonen was then pitched into a 45-degree angle and side swiped Vettel’s Ferrari at speed causing fluids to leak out of the sister Ferrari’s sidepod.
Vettel managed to carry on retaining first followed by Lewis Hamilton but Raikkonen slid uncontrollably into turn 1 just as Verstappen was limping into the Apex with Alonso in his McLaren on his outside.
The inevitable happened as Raikkonen collected both Verstappen and an innocent Alonso who managed to limp on but retired a few laps later, three cars were out. Vettel would spin out of the race on his own fluids a few corners later. And that was the Singapore Grand Prix.
After three safety car periods, Lewis Hamilton was gifted an easy win helped by Vettel and the wet/dry weather conditions. Hamilton was sure he could win when it began to rain but he would never have imagined Vettel making such a poor decision to risk the race and championship before the first corner had even been navigated.
Daniel Ricciardo finished a credible second with Valtteri Bottas third, as a result of Vettel’s madness other drivers were promoted to positions never finished before notably Carlos Sainz who finished 4th for Torro Rosso.
Hamilton looked solid and fast throughout the changeable conditions and deserved victory when he and Mercedes expected to struggle to match the race pace of the Ferrari’s.
As For Vettel, his aggressiveness at the start has cost him dear and if he loses the championship to Hamilton then he didn’t lose in Singapore he lost it in his mind.
Singapore Grand Prix, 2017 – Marina Bay Street Circuit – Results