SHARE
Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes knew they were entering the Singapore Grand Prix weekend with the driver’s championship lead but they also knew that they may not be able to exit the weekend retaining that lead. The street circuit was going to favor the Ferrari and as Friday’s practice sessions proved, it also might favor the Red Bulls as well.

The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel did a terrific job of securing pole position leaving two Red Bulls and another Ferrari behind him and this was going to make Lewis’s day a very difficult task as the Brit said he would need a miracle to secure a win in Singapore.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

The start of the first-ever wet night race provided that miracle as both Ferrari’s and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen took each other out at turn 1 leaving Hamilton in the lead after a Safety Car period and re-start of the race on lap 5.

If you go back ten years and read my commentary on the first-ever night race, I said at the time that one thing I struggle with personally is driving at night with rain and glare from the lights. I said it would be very difficult for the drivers in this race with artificial lights and glare and I am happy to say that they are much better at it than I am as the race started normally with lots of rooster tails and water.

It was a miracle that Lewis needed and it was a miracle he received to enter the Singapore Grand Prix in the points lead and exit the weekend with a 28-point lead.

Win

Lewis needed a miracle and he got it as he drove a race with an engine with some mileage on it to capitalize on the carnage up front. You have to be there to win it and take advantage of the gifts handed to you and Lewis stayed out of trouble to bring home a win at a place they had resigned themselves to damage limitation.

It’s a win but a bit of a fail for Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who finished well but was unable to take the fight to Lewis Hamilton over the long-run race pace. You can’t argue with the result Dan was able to achieve but given the pace they had on Friday, you may be forgiven for thinking that Red Bull had something for Mercedes.

A win for NBC Sports for arranging to have live interviews with McLaren’s Zak Brown during the race, a very nice addition to the broadcast. Very interesting to hear Zak say there were 42 engineers monitoring Vandoorne’s car during the race.

Fail

A big fail for Ferrari who desperately needed to capitalize on the tight nature of this street circuit. It was the one track they felt they could beat Mercedes and qualifying proved that point but they managed to end both their races by squeezing the Dutchman between them sending all three cars into a pile of carbon fiber and leaking fluids. A terrible weekend and massive impact in the driver’s championship battle. Ferrari knew that Max had nothing to lose and was never going to take his foot out of it so it boiled down to either lifting and staying ahead of Lewis or trying to block Max and take the win. The latter option didn’t work.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

A fail for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who qualified so well and yet was out at turn 1 in an incident that left him nowhere to go as the two Ferrari’s pinched him between them. One more DNF for the season for the Dutchman.

A fail for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat for hitting the wall and ending his race early on lap 11. The Russian had just told the team to leave him alone and not radio him and it does seem he was struggling to keep focus on a very tricky and changing track.

WTH

A WTH for McLaren and Fernando Alonso for having a decent chance of scoring good points but once again he was unable to finish the race due to circumstances beyond his control as he was damaged during the Ferrari/Red Bull carnage on lap 1.

I’m glad I wasn’t a strategist for this race. After the second safety car period, a dry line formed but without the aid of the sun and high humidity, the rain was taking a while to evaporate and the dry line to form. When would the crossover point be and who wanted to take the gamble to switch to dry tires? It was Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen who blinked first on lap 25 and then they all boxed for dry tires.

You know it’s a tough circuit when nearly all the drivers tell their teams to shut up and leave them alone on the radio. Kvyat, Sainz, Magnussen et. al. No one wanted to hear their team prattling on about batteries, tires and other mechanical issues during the race.

Mercedes were asking Lewis to slow the pace and not open a gap that would allow an additional stop for Ricciardo if there was another safety car period. Lewis didn’t agree and explained that it is difficult to drive off pace—which Paul and I have spoken about at length. Mercedes acquiesced and let Lewis dictate the pace.

Race result

POS DRIVER CAR LAPS GAP
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 58 2h03m23.544s
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 58 4.507s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 8.800s
4 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 58 22.822s
5 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 58 25.359s
6 Jolyon Palmer Renault 58 27.259s
7 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 58 30.388s
8 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 58 41.696s
9 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 58 43.282s
10 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 58 44.795s
11 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 58 46.536s
12 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 56 2 Laps
Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 50 Power Unit
Nico Hulkenberg Renault 48 Oil leak
Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 35 Spun off
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 10 Spun off
Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 8 Collision
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0 Collision
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0 Collision
Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings

POS DRIVER POINTS
1 Lewis Hamilton 263
2 Sebastian Vettel 235
3 Valtteri Bottas 212
4 Daniel Ricciardo 162
5 Kimi Raikkonen 138
6 Max Verstappen 68
7 Sergio Perez 68
8 Esteban Ocon 56
9 Carlos Sainz 48
10 Nico Hulkenberg 34
11 Felipe Massa 31
12 Lance Stroll 28
13 Romain Grosjean 26
14 Kevin Magnussen 11
15 Fernando Alonso 10
16 Jolyon Palmer 8
17 Stoffel Vandoorne 7
18 Pascal Wehrlein 5
19 Daniil Kvyat 4
20 Marcus Ericsson 0
21 Antonio Giovinazzi 0

Constructors’ standings

POS CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Mercedes 475
2 Ferrari 373
3 Red Bull/Renault 230
4 Force India/Mercedes 124
5 Williams/Mercedes 59
6 Toro Rosso/Renault 52
7 Renault 42
8 Haas/Ferrari 37
9 McLaren/Honda 17
10 Sauber/Ferrari 5
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
SHARE
An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • johnblair7

    Lewis said he needed a miracle, I didn’t think he’d get one. Seb contributed to his own demise but it was still a racing incident and was classed as such. Not sure how it will effect the title, Lewis always seems to get at least one DNF per season. So its still all to play for.

    • Samouri

      Vettel also seems to get a DNF during the season, but one due to not crashing.

  • jakobusvdl

    Jeez! Raikkonen, Hamilton and Alonso all got fantastic starts. For a delightful few seconds it was looking like it could be a great dog fight, with Alonso in the top 5 scrapping with the quick cars for a couple of laps.
    I’d love to find a way to blame Verstappen (to suit my view that he’s too impetuous, and responsible for a number of collisions), but since I defended Rosberg in the similar Barcelona 2016 collision with Hamilton, I guess I have to accept it was a racing incident.
    However, if there is footage available that helps to clarify what happened in the split second prior to the collision, I’d be keen to see it – especially the Verstappen in-car camera.

    • jakobusvdl

      http://www.gpupdate.net/en/f1-news/358504/in-photos-dramatic-singapore-start-clash/
      Some good still photos of the incident, which make it look as if Verstappen had room to his right when he moved left into Raikkonen. (Not that I’m biased, you understand ;-) ).

      • subcritical71

        Looking at the videos Verstappen seems to be the only one who was going in a straight line, he did move to the left just as (or before, I can’t tell) contact was made with Raikkonen. I feel for the guy as I don’t think this one was his fault. His concentration could have been on Vettel as he was coming over quite quickly. I’m a bit surprised with Raikkonnens’ move but I’m sure he was also thinking that Turn 1 is coming up I better start making room.

        Is it only me or does anyone else have the problem where when they see VER on the scoring pylon you automatically think Vergne? I can’t seem to break the habit of first thinking of JEV!

        • jakobusvdl

          I haven’t found any more video from different angles yet, so can’t really say. But will keep looking.
          Seeing VER on the scoring pylon, I understand that confusion, but what has helped me is that we never saw JEV that far up the stack –
          Baboomtisss!
          I couldn’t resist that cheap shot ;-)

        • jakobusvdl

          The F1 highlights clip includes the Verstappen in-car, and it doesn’t look like Verstappen did anything to precipitate the collision, but the slow motion clip shows that he moved left and into Raikkonen as Vettel chopped across.
          That will learn Raikkonen for getting a great start!
          https://youtu.be/wAOMOmsqpUY
          https://youtu.be/PPuyooS0QqY

          • Peter Riva

            Exactly right. Kimi did NOT deviate at all. Verstappen hit him behind the driver’s seat wheel.

      • jakobusvdl

        The F1 highlights clip includes the Verstappen in-car, and clearly Verstappen did nothing to precipitate the collision.
        That will learn Raikkonen for getting a great start!
        https://youtu.be/wAOMOmsqpUY

    • Rock or Something

      I am biased as well in that I didn’t want LH to win the championship this year, but truth should overcome bias and this was SV’s fault. It’s simple – he tried to cross the track to block MV but didn’t account for KR. MV had it exactly right – for SV to risk everything to block him when the only person who mattered, LH, was way behind him was dumb. LH deserves to win because he’s driving like a champion, much as it hurts for me to say. SV deserves to lose because he can’t control himself and is driving like a child. It’s taken me a long season of trying to take his side to finally admit it.

      Also, I am not too familiar with this site but in every article I’ve seen the site author says ‘I said this already’ or ‘I told you so’ or ‘people said I was wrong well who’s wrong now’ which is a bit much.

      • jakobusvdl

        I think that the pole sitter moving across to block is just ‘standard practice’ these days. Hamilton did the same to Stroll at Monza. So I don’t see it as a huge critism of Vettel. If it wasn’t for the random factor (Raikkonen getting a bullet start) nothing would have happened.
        But it did happen, and it’s looking like the constructors and drivers championships are now firmly with Mercedes and Hamilton.
        But taking out three of the usual top six finishers has stirred up the standings for the third to ninth in the constructors, and third to last in the drivers.

        As for the site, yep NC can be a bit defensive, but he runs a great website and podcasts, and there is a good community around them. So I hope you’ll stick around and be part of it.

        • pmr

          Funny you bring up Hamilton’s move on Stroll, thats the way you move acros. Do it slowly so the other guy has time to react. Not like Vettel did, moving over very quickly leaving the other guy almost no time to react, especially when he also has someone on his inside.
          It’s a stupid mistake by Vettel, also assuming there is no one in max’s inside. Vettel is a very quick driver when he’s ahaed or with not much car’s around him. But he’s got very poor spatial awereness, as he has shown the last two seasons

          • jakobusvdl

            https://youtu.be/1LOPzsVsaA0
            Have another look at the Monza start, I don’t think there is a lot of difference between the two manoeuvres.
            Hamilton crossed from one side of the track to the other, caused Stroll to change line and check his pace. The main difference is no one got a better start up the inside of the car which was second on the grid.

  • adaptable1

    Was that the Championship that flashed before my eyes? Lewis’ lead is now insurmountable. It would now take a miracle for Seb to get back in the hunt. Only the last two finishers in Singapore were out of the points. Hindsight being 20/20, should the race have started behind a safety car?

    • pmr

      No please not more safety cars. The conditions were 100% good enough to start. If Vettel had driven worthy of a 4WDC they would all have made it through the first corner just fine

    • Not sure it’s insurmountable but it will be very hard to recover from this. Having said that, there is plenty of room for an engine failure or other issue in the remaining races. That works both ways though. :)

      • adaptable1

        Lewis could DNF one of the remaining races and still be ahead… Also, Malaysia, Japan, Austin, Mexico…those are power circuits, and we know that they favor the Mercs. At this point, and as a fellow Tifosi…I pray for rain. Hope to see you in Austin! There is a possibility I might go to Mexico too!

    • Michael

      The race sort of did start behind the safety car.

  • the Late Idi Armin

    I can understand the plucky teen and kimi hiting each but what possessed Seb to join into that fracas.
    one other general thought and this might have come from Paul’s track analysis; is there too many curbs at Singapore?

  • B52Rocklobster

    If only Kimi could qualify better and lockout the front row..then this incident never happens.

    It’s such a double edged sword with him…Ferrari appears to want a “good” #2 driver to support Vettel, but when they need him to (whether its blocking HAM or BOT from moving up places, or qualifying better to keep spacing between Ferrari and other teams) he can’t do it.

    How ironic that he had such a great start and contributed greatly to that collision.

  • Michael

    Seb was within his right to move over, have no idea what all the consternation is about the move. Can’t remember the race in the early part of the season, but he got squeezed (by Verstappen) in somewhat the same manner. He saw it coming and backed out.

    Switch Max and Seb and the exact same things happens.

    No idea what Raikkonen was thinking. Seriously folks, put yourself in his shoes for this race. Knowing there is a sharp left hander and certainly you know Seb is not going to leave the door open for Max to push Seb wide in that turn would you really put yourself in that position leaving 0 wiggle room? Very careless is all I can say. Without Raikkonen there, we quite possibly get through the first turn, although still possible Verstappen does to Vettel what he did to his own team mate.

    “Ferrari knew that Max had nothing to lose” Sort of the definition of dangerous. I’m guessing he’ll continue to play a part in this years championship in a negative way.

    Funny that Brundle was against a safety car start (if Hamilton was on Pole with Max in second wonder if he still would have thought that) yet that’s exactly what we got once the first turn eliminated some competition.

    • subcritical71

      For discussions sake let say the chop across by Seb was in his right. I agree with this as everyone seems to use this tactic. This does not make Seb a non-contributor to the outcome. I believe Max has a right to stand his ground but likewise needs to understand the consequences of that action. Two rights in this case made a wrong.

      In this case I think Seb decided to race the wrong person. He isn’t racing Max in the championship, he’s racing Hamilton. Give Max room and slot in behind him and Kimi and he leaves Singapore with the lead. Let’s face it Kimi would have dropped back behind Seb before the end of the race anyway and this year the odds are Max doesn’t finish anyway.

      I know there is a lot going on before that first turn but you must also be thinking big picture to win the championship this year. This is the same argument others made when Lewis gave his spot back to Bottas a few short races ago and that was only giving up 3 points not 25.

      • Michael

        We will have to agree to disagree. If Seb was any way at fault, he would have been penalized for driving dangerously. Seb had the pole and was in the lead going in to the turn. The don’t have huge amount off vision, but certainly he knew about where Max was in relation to the wall. They are all competitors so I don’t see how he chose to race the wrong person. Letting Max go sends the wrong message (or right message if you are Max). Like I said, I bet we continue to see Max negatively involved in the outcome of the championship. Nothing to lose and he obviously doesn’t care at this point if he crashes out.

        I put the blame on Raikkonen, especially as a teammate. I used to crew on a team where two brothers raced a lower-division of Champ/Formula1 powerboats. They would always strategize on how the start would go depending on each others position. Pretty obvious they had no sort of discussion, since all Kimi could say is something like “All I could have done differently was not have a good start”.

        • subcritical71

          Yeah, but I bet we both agree that this was a racing incident. As with most accidents take away one of the many variables out and it doesn’t occur, that one variable could have been any of the 3 involved and no accident….

          I am probably a bit biased and conflicted at the same time. My favorite driver… Fernando followed by Kimi, my least favorite driver… Pastor followed by Seb and since Pastor doesn’t drive anymore (did he ever drive?!?)… And I’m not saying Seb is in the same class as Pastor, Pastor was an idiot IMHO, Seb is talented, its just something about him I don’t like. But my favorite team is Ferrari, although that has changed since the new management came in, but still at the top.

          I would find it hard to believe that Ferrari didn’t sit down with the drivers beforehand to go over scenarios and what risks to take. I know we think of these guys as individuals out there but as with any team sport/business, the actions you take will depend on who is pumping you up with what information that makes the difference at the end. I’m sure on the Red Bull side it went something like, ‘well, you’ve got nothing to loose’

          • Michael

            Racing incident for sure, but I still place the blame squarely on Raikkonen. I get being conflicted. We all have drivers we like and dislike for various reasons, but I remain very open-minded regardless of who is involved in these incidents that happen. If it was Raikkonen on pole and Vettel came up the inside, I’d be blaming Vettel and he is who I am pulling for this season. Even better, it could have been Hamilton ( who I very much dislike ) and Vettel on the inside, and I’d still be blaming Vettel. It’s just in this case we are talking about teammates.

            As far as Max goes, I really *want* to like him, but he is over the limit most times. If there is a good chance a driver is going to get hit by Max for whatever reason, then that’s my definition of driving over the limit.

            As far as this incident goes, I don’t blame Max at all, but he was there. We can’t know how it would have turned out had they actually made it to the turn, but I’m doubting (not that it matters) they would have made it through cleanly.

            I agree with your last point for sure with the exception that I don’t think it was Red Bull, but his father telling him “You have nothing to lose, go for it and push hard on that first corner”. Actually, you could see what could happen very clearly telegraphed when they interviewed Max after qualifying.

            Anyway, it’s over for now, but guaranteed to see more Max fireworks. Just wish it would happen with Hamilton! *Then* we can see what the media has to say ;-)

      • jakobusvdl

        I think Vettel was doing the right thing, he was ahead of Verstappen when he cut across, and as we agree, the ‘chop’ is the norm these days.
        How’s this for a way to look at it? Verstappen was the only one of the three with a clear view of the developing situation, and the one who’d probably been told not to interfere with the outcomes of the wdc.
        A more mature driver (one who wanted to finish races), could have backed off and avoided contact with Raikkonen, and possibly gone one to demonstrate us car control to improve on that during the race.

        • subcritical71

          I could agree with this. I’d like to see a better slow motion replay of Verstappens in-car camera. He seems to be the one who backed out of it first, although obviously too late. Was his turn into Kimi due to the braking on a wet surface?

          • jakobusvdl

            From the slomo clip I linked in the post below, it doesn’t look as if Verstappen was braking, just edging left away from the fast closing Vettel.
            Even in slomo, it all happened very quickly!

        • Michael

          “the ‘chop’ is the norm these days.” If by “these days” you mean since at least the days of Senna (and I don’t mean just Senna), then yup, these days then the chop/moving over (not even all that aggressively in Vettel’s) is normal. :-) Brundle said during the Monza race when Palmer was whining about Alonso, that he surely wouldn’t have liked racing against Senna, Mansell, Berger, etc.

          I’ll bet that Max’s father had no such “don’t mess with the wdc outcome” words for his son and I believe that is exactly who he listens to. Max already telegraphed his intentions after qualifying. We will be hearing more from Max :-)

          • jakobusvdl

            Quite right Michael, ‘the chop’ has been the standard practice for the pole sitter for a long while.
            I suspect that the fact that 99% of collisions in modern F1 cars don’t result in injury means that drivers are increasingly likely to risk a collision.
            While the lack of physical harm to the drivers is a great thing, F1 needs to make sure it doesn’t become another series where ‘rubbing is racing’.

  • Dr T

    First lap incident between the Ferraris and Max… just bad luck for all of them

    Apparently Danny Ric was driving through a gear box oil pressure issue and that is where the pace went (according to Christian Horner, and as repeated on Ted’s notebook).

  • jakobusvdl

    The F1 highlights clip shows somethings overlooked in the discussions so far,
    1) the safety of the cars, the secondary collision of Raikkonen skittling into Verstappen and Alonso could have been carnage.
    2) genius reversing skills by Vettel, corners 4 and 5 backwards after spinning into the barriers.
    3) Erikson’s spin on the Anderson bridge, he so nearly got away with a no contact spin.
    https://youtu.be/wAOMOmsqpUY

  • Peter Riva

    I guess I was watching a different race… The view from Kimi’s car is clear as a bell… he kept a perfectly straight line. Didn’t turn, did NOTHING. He was hit from behind. And yet everyone seems to say it was a Ferrari accident. Sheesh, how much do you guys love that young brat Verstappen?
    Okay Vettel squeezed Verstappen, but under what rules of racing do you think Verstappen had a right to hit the car AHEAD of him to avoid having to slow down?
    You blames Vettel for hitting Hamilton from behind but when it comes to Kimi you say “Ferrari” was to blame?
    The coverage was unfair and silly, let’s not add to it here.

  • Fred Talmadge

    While the “chop” maybe normal, Ver is in his right to maintain his line. Kimi was doing what everyone else was doing, going for the lead on the first corner. I think only Hamilton and Alonso were thinking to avoid the first turn crash.

  • jakobusvdl

    What about Massa?
    With all the focus on the first corner crash, I think Massa is getting a ‘free pass’ on a couple of red mist moments with VanDoorne, and Magnussen.
    During the 2nd safety car period, after VanDoorne stopped for tyres and was squabbling with Massa about 11th place, it looked like Massa drove into VanDoorne, left front onto right rear.
    And when being passed by Magnussen on lap 17, Massa nearly squeezed KMag into the wall (KMag then did the same to Ocon a few corners later).
    Similar incidents this year with Vettel on Hamilton, and Perez on Ocon, have had posters in full cry.

  • Shocks&Awe

    I find it interesting that so many call this a racing incident, and yet still try to apportion blame.

    Raikkonen went for the gap, as you would hope/expect a racer to do.
    Verstappen held his line and did his best to avoid contact when he got squeezed
    Vettel was ahead of Verstappen and put pressure on him to ensure the position, as you would hope/expect a racer to do.

    No one did anything wrong — they were just racing.