A wet win in Singapore for Hamilton as Vettel slips up
With six races left of the 2017 Formula One season, Lewis Hamilton took a significant step towards claiming his fourth world championship in Singapore. But it was a spectacular, and potentially season defining, crash involving title rival Sebastian Vettel that dominated the headlines.
By Ryan Nixon
Prior to Sunday’s race in Singapore, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton admitted that he would need some sort of “miracle” to come away with the win he needed, after struggling in qualifying and having to settle with a fifth place start.
Ferrari’s drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were expected to run riot on the track, where they held an advantage over Hamilton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas. However, it was not to be as the Ferrari pair crashed out in spectacular fashion within the first few corners, taking out young Max Verstappen in the process.
This left Hamilton to slot into first place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo soon after the incident, and he displayed a masterful drive for the rest of the race, coming away with a first-place finish and propelling himself to a 28-point lead over his bitter title rival Vettel.
The race featured a soaking wet track, which inadvertently caused three appearances from safety cars, which in turn meant the race was reduced to 58 laps instead of the planned 61 due to time limits.
The majority of talk from fans and pundits alike was of course centred on the crash between the Ferrari teammates and Verstappen. Vettel was largely to blame for this incident, when he aggressively tried to cut off Verstappen, after the young Dutchman experienced a better start than him.
Verstappen was left with no room to manoeuvre, and when trying to stay out of Vettel’s way, inadvertently caught the wheel of F1 veteran Raikkonen, who then started to spin into the corner, catching Vettel’s car in the process.
Also caught up in this mess of cars and drivers was McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who was sent careering after Raikkonen couldn’t regain control of his vehicle, wiping out Verstappen indefinitely and leaving Alonso with a car so damaged that he was forced to retire from the race a few slow laps later.
Vettel attempted to continue with the race but the Ferrari was badly damaged, with the front wing having been torn off and fluid leaking from the back. This proved too much for the German, who was caught unaware on turn three as he skidded on the aforementioned liquid and spun into the tire wall, forcing him to withdraw after less than half a lap.
This just left Hamilton to cruise into the lead, which he held convincingly for the remainder of the race.
Controversially, Ferrari’s Twitter team were quick to respond to the crash, blaming Max Verstappen entirely, saying: “Verstappen took Kimi out and then he went to Sebastian.”
Of course, the three drivers involved all had differing accounts of the collision after it was judged by race stewards as a ‘racing incident’ that no one was at immediate fault for.
Verstappen thought otherwise, saying: “I don’t think it was a racing incident. Three cars were taken out and I was in the middle not doing anything wrong.”
Vettel’s statement sounded somewhat suspicious, with him vaguely claiming “I didn’t see that much. I saw Max and then the next thing I see is Max and Kimi hitting me somewhere.”
Regardless of whether he is to blame or not though, what Vettel has done is conceded a crucial win to Hamilton who is now 28 points ahead of the German in the race for the Driver’s Championship title.
The next race is in two weeks, this time based in Malaysia on the Sepang track, which a lot of Formula One fans are touting as a predominantly Mercedes-favoured track. The question is, will Lewis be able to hold off Vettel for the remaining six races in the season, or will the German be able to claw his way back from his underwhelming early exit at Singapore?