Not often do we see both Ferraris crash out in the opening lap of a grand prix. It wasn’t what had seemed on the cards here in Singapore, especially with Sunday’s pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel looking all set to begin a blazing contest at Marina Bay, having clocked a remarkable 1:39:491.
But since when has the Marina Bay, home to the electrifying Singapore Grand Prix, posed an easy challenge to drivers?
On a lighter note, in a racing contest that saw the safety car intervene on more occasions than Alonso has crashed out this year, it was a Silver Arrows show courtesy of some stellar Hammertime right at top of the podium.
The 2017 Singapore F1 had it all: a brutal opening lap result for Ferrari, slippery conditions akin to being tasked to skate on snow, tonnes of debris, and Lewis Hamilton on the top of the podium.
RealSport brings you five things we learned from the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix.
1 Life’s not being kind to Max
Enter Max; exit Red Bull. That seems to have been the narrative to the Dutchman’s 2017 season. As if Max Verstappen’s six race retirements thus far hadn’t dampened an already forgettable season, the first lap collision with Raikkonen and Vettel didn’t exactly delight the Red Bull wingman or his fans.
It wasn’t a great feeling to have been sandwiched between the two Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel on the opening lap. Max would have been hoping for so much more after qualifying second on a track that favoured the Red Bull.
2 Sebastian Vettel is not infallible at Singapore
We know how elaborate a challenge Singapore’s 61-lap contest can be for the best of drivers out there. But among the modern day greats on the track, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel’s record (four race wins at Marina Bay) has stood out when compared to legends like Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen.
Having begun on Sunday from a supremely confident P1, clocking an impressive pole position, the 49th of his career, Vettel was expected to dominate. But instead, he instigated an elaborate crash, part of a bizarre racing move to stay ahead of Verstappen, resulting in the retirement of both Ferraris, and Verstappen, on the first lap.
This potentially points to a dampening in Ferrari’s dominance at Singapore, best felt in 2015 (where the Prancing Horse enjoyed a one-three finish), caused by a somewhat irrational exuberance of a driver of Vettel’s caliber and experience.
3 We must tip our hat to Daniel Ricciardo, Mr. Consistency
Prior to entering the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, Ricciardo, solely responsible for Red Bull’s resurgence in a season utterly dominated by the Silver Arrows and the Prancing horse, stood in fourth place with 144 points.
But with yet another podium in Sunday’s challenging contest, the smiling “Aus-sasin” claimed a vital second place, the 25th podium finish of his career.
In so doing, Ricciardo, whose feats such as that move on Raikkonen earlier at Monza and an ecstatic Spa-Francorchamps drive have been headline material, has lent a new tone and fresh context to a season utterly belonging to Hamilton’s brilliance.
For that cheery smile and happy celebrations on the podium, they might be calling Daniel ‘Mr. Shoey’ (even though he seemed to resist the urge on this occasion), but on the track, and with six podium finishes so far this year, the Aussie is certainly ‘Mr. Consistency’.
4 You've got to feel for Nico Hulkenberg but smile for Palmer
By no stretch of the imagination are Renault dominating proceedings this year. Apart from constant run-ins with engine troubles and technical glitches, the one man who has brought home all of their 34 points this season is Nico Hulkenberg, currently tenth in the championship.
In fighting for what seemed to be tenth place at Singapore but sadly failing to finish the race, 'Hulk' demonstrated fight and grit to compete for points.
While fans might point out that Nico was running in contention for a potential podium finish following the first lap collision between the Red Bull of Verstappen and the Ferrari's, one cannot undermine Hulkenberg's importance to the current Renault setup.
While being a victim of an unexpected pneumatic engineering problem cheated the German of yet another points finish, the Renault contingent can take heart from the fact that Jolyon Palmer secured his first points of 2017.
In finishing with a solid sixth place, 26-year-old Palmer evaded tough luck and bad run-ins with frequently occurring car problems that have marred his 2017 campaign thus far. Moreover, those 8 points earned on the back of Palmer's drive put Renault ahead of Haas in the constructors' standings.
5 Singapore is indeed one of the most dramatic races on the F1 Calendar
If the opening lap collision between the Red Bull of Verstappen and the two Ferrari's wasn't enough to stoke enough heat in a rain-affected Singapore grand prix, then it didn't exactly help to see as many as five cars exiting the race by the time lap 15 was complete at Singapore.
Hard, gruelling and, ever-competitive, Sunday's race was all this and more.
While the Singapore Grand Prix of 2017 might have been yet another reminder of Lewis's steely persona behind the wheel, it proved to be quite a dampener for as many as seven drivers who failed to finish the race, while also providing an opportunity for others to stake their claim to precious championship points.
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