Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were among the fastest drivers in pre-race qualifying, with Vettel taking pole position in the race. But things went horribly wrong less than a minute after the green flag. Raikkonen moved across the wet track and collided with Vettel, sandwiching Max Verstappen and his Red Bull in between.
Raikkonen and Verstappen were out of the race, not even making it to the first corner. As it slid off the track, Raikkonen’s Ferrari took out Fernando Alonso’s McLaren as well. After sustaining heavy damage and spinning at the track’s third turn, Vettel retired from the race as well.
Verstappen blamed Vettel for the incident, claiming the Ferrari driver came too close to him after the start, according to Racer. But after talking to all three drivers, race officials decided to take no further action. They stated that “no driver was found to have been wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident.”
It’s never good when both of a team’s drivers are taken out of the race by a crash, but this incident was particularly unlucky for Ferrari. It resulted in an easy win for Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, allowing him to extend his lead over Vettel in the driver championship. With both Ferraris out and unable to score points, Mercedes was also able to increase its lead over the Italian automaker in the constructor championship. Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished third.
Mercedes has had a stranglehold on F1 since the current hybrid powertrain rules went into effect in 2014. A superior powertrain allowed Mercedes to cruise to the constructor championship virtually unopposed in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Hamilton won the driver championship in 2014 and 2015, and former teammate Nico Rosberg won it last year. Ferrari has put up more of a fight so far this season, but the Singapore disaster is a major setback.
Red Bull was at least able to salvage something from the race. Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, started further back and avoided the calamity at the front of the field. He managed to come home second.