Rate the race: Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore 2017.
Mean reader score: 5.55
This is the worst score for quite a few years for this circuit (6.77, 6.56, 5.65 and 5.62 for 2016, 15, 14 and 13) which is hardly surprising as although the race lasted the full two hours (and didn’t get as far as the full 61 lap race distance) it was pretty much over within seconds of lights out. A massive downpour earlier in the day washed the track clean and for the first time in it’s ten year history, we had a wet race in Singapore. No running had been done on wet or intermediate tyres the whole weekend.
What can I say? The race itself may have been pretty dull but the start has fuelled more opinions as to who should or should not have done what than any other this season. Once again we had three cars all trying to get into the same place at the same time with catastrophic results. Being an anti clockwise circuit and the first turn a left hander, pole position wasn’t necessarily the best place to start from as the pole sitter was on the ‘wrong’ side of the track in some respects. Raikkonen (P4) got off to a great start, getting ahead of Verstappen (P2) up the inside, Vettel meanwhile closed down the gap from the outside leaving Verstappen in the middle. Verstappen’s front wheel touched Raikkonen’s rear wheel, sending him barrelling into Vettel (P1) ripping a massive hole in Vettel’s side pod and sending himself skittering uncontrollably into Verstappen and picking up an unsuspecting Alonso (who had also made a good start) along the way. All three cars were out shortly thereafter. The next thing we saw was Vettel (who almost lost the lead to Hamilton after the carnage) steering Gina backwards into turn three, having slipped on his own radiator fluid, hit a wall and taken off his front wing. He was also out of the race. Hamilton must have thought that a) all his Christmases had come at once or b) he really is blessed, as starting from P5 (with Vettel in P1 now out of the race) it looked as if he really could win this one. Three safety cars later and with only a dozen cars finishing the race, we settled into a procession (pretty much) for the remaining two hours. Honourable mentions for Sainz who, finishing in P4, had his biggest points haul of the season, Palmer who scored his first points of the season and Magnussen who had a couple of pretty risky overtakes before having to retire. Hamilton won the race, Ricciardo brought home the points for Red Bull in second place and Bottas kept his head down and managed to come home third, salvaging what for him had been a difficult weekend.
Driver of the Weekend: Lewis Hamilton 28.39% of Reader Vote
At the beginning of the weekend Hamilton said he’d need a miracle to retain his position at the top of the driver standings in the WDC. Well his prayers were indeed answered and not only did he win the race, Formula 1 Driver of the Day, and Fastest Lap award (1:48.008), he also managed to increase his lead over Vettel from 3 to 28 points, AND he won our Driver of the Weekend accolade as well. Not bad from a P5 start on a track notoriously difficult for overtaking. Well done Lewis!
Carlos Sainz seemingly bolstered by his new Renault deal scored well in the race finishing 4th having starting from P10 and as such received 2nd in our reader poll.
So, was the carnage at the start really a racing incident? Does Max the Wonderkid deserve to be known as the new Maldonado? (Crashtappen) IS Hamilton #blessed? Should Vettel have played it safe into turn 1? Is the WDC championship fight between Vettel and Hamilton really over? Comment’s below please (yes, I know you’ve already argued the toss on the above all week, but you know, humour me)