Formula One: Vettel blamed for Singapore accident, netizens pound Ferrari

German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel (left) of Scuderia Ferrari and Finnish teammate Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen collide at the start of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore, on Sept 17, 2017.
German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel (left) of Scuderia Ferrari and Finnish teammate Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen collide at the start of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore, on Sept 17, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - Fireworks synchronised with the moment Lewis Hamilton hoisted the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix trophy aloft on Sunday (Sept 17) evening but arguably, the real pyrotechnics was provided seconds into the start of the race.

In the wildest opening of the 10 editions of the night race, four cars crashed out, including three of the top four starters (Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen), in a startling chain accident at Turn 1 of the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

And the recriminations continued on Monday with accusing fingers pointed mainly in the direction of Ferrari's Vettel even though race stewards cleared all parties of any wrongdoing after an inquiry.

The Scuderia cancelled their post-race media briefings with their drivers but team principal Maurizio Arrivabene adopted a diplomatic tone, and expressed his wish to move on from the fiasco.

In a communique via the team's Twitter account, he said: "That (the accident) was very disappointing and it was definitely not the result we were expecting, but it doesn't mean that the battle is all over, just that it has become more difficult.

"All of us, those here in Singapore today and those working back in Maranello, we all have the Prancing Horse stamped on our hearts and we guarantee that we will be fighting right to the final corner of the very last grand prix of the year."

In contrast, BBC's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson laid the blame squarely on the German driver, believing that the Ferrari man's combative style could have cost him the drivers' championship.

Vettel had started Sunday attempting to close a three-point gap on championship leader Hamilton but ended the night 28 points behind as his early retirement and the Briton's win in Singapore allowed the Mercedes pilot to soar to 263 points.

Benson wrote: "How much will Sebastian Vettel come to regret the aggressive defensive move that contributed to the collision that took him out of the Singapore Grand Prix?

"It is something of a signature move of Vettel's. He has used it to great effect in the past. He may well have learned it from his hero Michael Schumacher, who also specialised in that sort of uncompromising lunge. Usually it works to his advantage - but this time it could have cost him a world championship."

Mercedes, whose driver Lewis Hamilton was the principal beneficiary of the crash, also weighed in, with non-executive chairman and triple world champion Niki Lauda telling Reuters: "If he (Vettel) would not have moved (across) he could have won the race, there's no question about it."

Ferrari's tweet - "VER took #Kimi7 out and then he went to #Seb5" - raised not just eyebrows but also heckles.

@nikidenton blasted: "Factual description if you are blind."

@Shinto-P added: "I am a big Vettel fan but be honest here. Vettel pushed VER all the way into Kimi. That was the most useless move i've seen."

The Scuderia later tweeted: "What we tweeted was a factual description of events. No need to speculate on this."