Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2017

Formula 1: Not the smashing start Ferrari wanted

Ferrari's official Twitter account seemed to lay the blame on Verstappen, tweeting that the Dutchman "took #Kimi7 out then he went to #Seb5".
Ferrari's official Twitter account seemed to lay the blame on Verstappen, tweeting that the Dutchman "took #Kimi7 out then he went to #Seb5". PHOTO: AFP

It was the incident that decided last night's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix - and perhaps even this year's Formula One world championship as well.

As Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen collided at Turn 1 of the opening lap, a gleeful Lewis Hamilton grabbed the opportunity to extend his lead atop the drivers' standings from a slender three points to 28 points.

It was a blow for Vettel, who had hoped to overtake the Briton by winning last night's race from pole.

"Nothing we can do now. For sure, it's bitter but it's done," said the four-time Singapore GP winner, whose retirement ended a run of 18 successive points finishes.

His team-mate Raikkonen, starting in fourth, had an excellent start, coming off to Verstappen's left.

Vettel then moved to cut Verstappen off, with the luckless Red Bull driver sandwiched between the two Ferraris, leading to the chaotic sequence of collisions and eventual race retirements.

Still, Vettel did not blame either of the other two drivers, saying: "I had an average start, moved slightly to the left and was trying to fend off Max. Then the next thing there was a bump on the side and I saw Kimi's car, so I don't know what happened."

It was the first time in the 67-year history of F1 that Ferrari drivers had taken each other out on the opening lap of a race.

However, Ferrari's official Twitter account seemed to lay the blame on Verstappen, tweeting that the Dutchman "took #Kimi7 out then he went to #Seb5".

Verstappen, unsurprisingly, offered a different take on his seventh retirement of the season: "I was in the middle without doing anything wrong, just trying to have a clean start.

"Sebastian started squeezing me and maybe he didn't see Kimi on the left but that's no excuse.

"If you are fighting for the title, you shouldn't take those risks."

His team principal Christian Horner also took issue with Ferrari's tweet. AFP quoted him as saying: "Anyone who can blame Verstappen out of that needs their eyes tested."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2017, with the headline 'Not the smashing start Ferrari wanted'. Print Edition | Subscribe