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Singapore F1 Start accident: Were Raikkonen, Verstappen and Vettel all entitled to go for it?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Sep 2017   |  12:01 pm GMT  |  678 comments

There has been huge interest in the three way startline accident in Singapore which eliminated Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen and handed victory and a handsome points lead to Lewis Hamilton.

So was anyone to blame? What is the case for each driver?

The FIA stewards heard from all three but decided that no single individual could be held responsible for the accident. That was a relief to Vettel, who has 7 penalty points on his licence and has had his fair share of warnings, especially after Baku. At 12 points a driver receives a one race ban?

All three are entitled to race. Vettel is entitled to make one covering move and he did. Kimi is entitled to try to capitalise on one of his best ever starts and Max is entitled to stay on his line, having got a better launch.

That’s why the stewards called it evens.

The case against Raikkonen

Of the three Raikkonen got the best start. He powered off the line and the onboard shot from Verstappen’s car clearly shows how much more momentum the Finn had as he came past on the left like a missile.

Raikkonen had about a metre and a half to the pit wall to play with on the left. The problem was that as he came through, his right rear wheel hit Verstappen’s left front. There was nothing Verstappen could have done to avoid that. He moves very slightly to the left as he sees Vettel coming across.

Had everyone stayed on their line and there was no contact, Raikkonen would certainly have got the ‘holeshot’ and although his angle into Turn 1 would have been tight, he would likely have been in the lead as the cars snaked right for Turn 2.

The case against Verstappen
Verstappen got the second best start. It was immediately clear from the head-on TV shot of the lights out that Verstappen’s launch was superior to Vettel’s ahead to his right on pole. That momentum continues through the acceleration phase and if no-one changes lines from this point, Verstappen will arrive at the braking point for Turn 1 ahead of Vettel.

Drivers can always sense immediately if someone around them has got a better launch. Their senses are hyper-alert to it and Verstappen knew that he had a real chance to beat Vettel into Turn 1, especially as he would have the inside line.

He may not have been aware of just how fast Raikkonen was travelling up to his left, as he was focussed on Vettel coming across on him from the right, knowing that he is compromised.

Verstappen changes line slightly to the left in anticipation and that is enough to put him on a trajectory where Raikkonen’s right rear runs over Verstappen’s left front, which caused the accident. It broke Verstappen’s suspension and also sent Raikkonen into the side of Vettel.

Some fans have suggested that Verstappen “should have lifted off”, but the trajectory would not have changed by doing that – he cannot simply disappear – and the critical first contact was that touch of Raikkonen’s rear wheel as he went past. That was all about the line.

The case against Vettel

Vettel had the most at risk as he was the one fighting for the world title. It seems he forgot that in the heat of the moment. His ‘sorry’ to the team on the radio as he parked his damaged car said it all and is the true verdict on the matter.

However, he is racing and as the pole position man, he is entitled to move across once to defend his line.

The head on shot and the on board from Verstappen’s car show that Vettel moved across a long way and kept on coming. Ultimately this is what caused the accident as there was nowhere for the three drivers to go on a converging trajectory. Seen from the outside it seems simple and inevitable.

One could argue that with seven races to go and at the start of a two hour race where his title rival Hamilton is starting in fifth place, Vettel should have taken the long view.

But his mindset will have been affected by the rain that was falling and the fact that in recent years Hamilton has won virtually all the wet or rain affected races. As Hamilton said afterwards, “As soon as it rained I knew where I was going to finish. I knew I had the pace when it rains. Unfortunately we just didn’t have the car in the dry.

“But today, with it raining, those are my conditions.”

In a dry race, with a start like that Vettel would have approached it differently, knowing that the threat from Hamilton was less significant. But in the wet he could not afford to give anything away at the start, hence the insistence on the move across.

Vettel’s move was reminiscent of some similar moves that Michael Schumacher made off the startline in his Ferrari days, which was a talking point at the time in Drivers’ Briefings, as the rules on what was and wasn’t acceptable at the start were defined.

Ultimately the price he has paid has been high. Not only is it a fourth win in five races for Hamilton and a 28 point lead, but it’s another moment which casts some doubt in the mind of Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne. He sees things in black and white and the objective here is for Ferrari to win the world championship.

They have built a wonderful car this year, whereas the Mercedes is a bit tricky and temperamental. And yet Ferrari finds itself now out of control of the championship, not least due to valuable points dropped in Baku and Singapore.

Ferrari’s long winless streak creates nervousness in the team and missing out this year will create greater nerviness next year. In that scenario one can imagine a leader like Marchionne deciding next summer that he needs another hot rod in his second car.

That is the risk for Vettel.

How JA on F1 readers call it

JA on F1 readers have taken part in a snap poll with over 2000 voting in a few hours and clearly 75% call it Vettel’s fault.

What do you think? Leave your comments in the section below

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1

These drivers that always move to protect their line, what a load of bollocks, if you screw up your start why do you want to compromise everyone else’s race. It’s ridiculous. The solution is simple, a solid white line from the center of the grid to a point a certain distance from the 1st corner, and no one crosses this white, this will stop the all too often 1st corner incidents. If these iPad babies can not behave responsibly, then enforce more regulations.

2

Vittel has been a disappointment. Crazy moves then says he’s sorry.

3

The poli clearly shows the thoughts of all F1 fans. Even a Ferrari fanatic would have to admit this. Vettel has too often been involved in lousy decisions and this one could have been life threatening. He has only one thing on his mind and that is to win at any cost. I for one am pleased that this time did not pay off for him. Thoroughly deserved, very unfortunate that he took out Kimi and Max. He is not what I would consider a sportsman.

4

Considering what the rules are then no penalties is fair. I just wonder what racing would be like if we didn’t ever allow “entitled to make one covering move”. I’d like to see some racing where you could never impede the car behind.

5

James,

There have been many comments which say Max lifted when he saw he couldn’t get ahead. I haven’t read any official reports that confirm that he lifted. Would you happen to know if he lifted or not?

6

I didn’t really think it was anyone’s fault. I thought Vettel’s move was pretty consistent with those routinely made by pole sitters looking to cover off the second place man into Turn 1. Quite affirmative, as far as those go, but we’ve certainly seen more aggressive examples in the past (most recently between Hamilton & Rosberg, I recall). It would’ve been fine, if not for Kimi surging up Max’s left hand side at a rate I don’t think anyone could’ve anticipated. Kimi could maybe have left a bit more space between him and Max, but that would’ve meant going further onto the dirty track edge than he needed to and a racing driver just isn’t going to do that. Max was pretty much just a bystander, caught as he was between Scylla and Charybdis. I actually think there was a point at which he could’ve backed right out of it, but it’s simply not in a racing driver’s mindset to abandon their run down to Turn 1 without a compelling reason to do so. By the time Kimi provided that, it was way too late.

So no blame anywhere, as I see it. Everything would’ve been just fine, but Kimi’s rocketship start just didn’t compute with Vettel and Max’s anticipation and spatial awareness. I doubt Vettel would’ve done anything different in the dry, personally. This win would’ve been absolutely critical for his title hopes. There’s no way he’d let Max take a very racy-looking Red Bull first into Turn 1 without a fight.

7

I think that Vettel forgot who he is racing for the championship. His primary mission is to beat Hamilton. It is of no matter if Verstappen wins the race so long as Vettel beats Hamilton. One of the fundamental rules of being a racer (as opposed to being a race driver) is to know who you are racing and so not compromise your own race trying to beat someone who does not figure in your battle for the title.

8

I am a Ferrari fan and very like Kimi, but think it’s a Kimi this time who should have thinked twice before trying to be first at the first corner.

Only Kimi saw them both MV and SV and what’s their doing. And he knew that SV would defend his leading position as he would do the same. So, Kimi decided that he would be first or last during this race.

9

Late to the party, sure thing, and what’s done it’s done, nothing will change it.

What I would really want to know now, is what happens next? I mean Ferrari-wise. What is the approach they are most likely to take for the rest of the season? Are they going full “do or die”, or still going to play safe as if everything was under control?

Time to die?

10

My view is this was a per-planned pincer movement by VET and RAI on VER as VET was, as James says, worried about HAM’s performance in the wet and they wanted to make sure VER didn’t get track position ahead of VET. What they failed to take into consideration was the VER is not the type if driver to back out of a situation like this. Also he had nothing to lose unlike VET.
What I don’t understand is why Pole position is on the outside of the first corner. I understand it’s the racing line but where this is the case Pole position holder always cuts across to the inside first corner line and these sort if accidents occur.
I’ve been following F1 since the mid ’60’s and Pole position in those days was always on the inside of the first corner, if that was the case these days these accidents would be less likely.

11

Who’s to blame: no-one
Who’s the stupid one: Vettel (more for the consequences than for what he did)
Who’s the biggest looser: that’s a tie for Vettel, Ferrarri and all TV viewers.
Whichever fan you are … you must agree, we all lost a good race there in 5 seconds. It was over before it started. Such a shame. Lets hope this hasn’t killed the WDC. I said it before … 2017’s got huge potential to become an epic .. iconic season in F1 history, with 2 big gladiators fighting it out .. we’ve had to wait for it for a long time .. lets hope it’s not ruined now.

On a side note … I hope Seb is learning a lot from the things happening to him this year. He may not have made BAD calls … but he did make some WRONG calls this year. He did some things, that I think Ham would have judged and handled differently. Even if I’m not a Ham fan .. it’s something I start to admire ’bout him lately … you don’t become WDC by being over-agressive in your descisions. It’s indeed all about the long game.

12

Looks to me as if Max was attempting to squeeze Kimi who had a flying start. Very much Max’s style.

The worst outcome for me was a Hammy win.
Forza Seb.

13
Don't shoot the messenger

Pretty sure that If Max could have braked hard at the last split second, it would have been a crash between the Ferrari’s, given the speed SV was moving to the left.

14

Kimi was more moving right than Vettel to the left at the moment of impact. Kimi and Max have to be blamed for the accident. Kimi keeping a straight line nothing would have happened. Max braking nothing would have happened…

But 100% Seb for making the rest of the season boring because was this (not illegal move) really needed?

15

So, is this poll real? 76% really believe VET was to blame? A methodical inquiry would show Verstappen. Please mark my words : He will never be WDC in the future and he’s not faster than others, he simply risks way too far and forgets that the car has a break pedal. In that manner I would seem fast too. But let’s blame Vettel already… because…

16

After looking at multiple camera shots, I finally noticed something no one has mentioned–there was a small river of water running across the track. SV, KR, and MV ran thru that river moments before impact. I suspect that all three had momentary aquaplane or wheel spin just before impact, and as a result were unable to make any type of control corrections.
Trajectories that a moment before were merely intimidating became collision courses. Look at the rear tires of the cars just before impact–it goes from very little spray, to lots of spray, and bang in about 4 frames. There is visible water on top of the rear tires!
I can’t tell if KR is turned slightly by water or MV’s tire in his side pod, but his car rotates right just before the wheels touch and he launches across into SV. This rotation is what makes the ferrari’s appear to “pincer” MV.
So back to apportioning blame– KR and MV touched because of close proximity and water–that’s a racing accident. Could have been avoided if MV left more room when the position was clearly lost. SV was involved because he was also in close proximity when he didn’t need to be. Racing accident, but he put himself there. The next collision (KR into MV) was MV’s fault–he saw KR had broken wheels, should have known KR couldn’t stop for the corner (DR figured it out…). Fault MV. The next collision (MV into FA) was FA’s fault–he cut across MV on a trajectory that assured impact–KR’s arrival just sped it up.
I also find it remarkable that no one lost it on all the green oil coming out of SV’s ferrari–huge amount of lubricant on a wet track. Just remarkable!

17

Most logical people would not argue against most of that. I think though you missed the intelligent driving of another in HUL, who similarly to RIC did not allow himself to be in a position to be impacted by the unfolding events.

18

Am I the only one who thinks Vettel tried to do to Verstappen what Alonso did to him in 2010 in Singapore but went too far with it. I think the championship is still not over but it will be if Vettel makes another mistake in the remaining races.

19

Fault is 100% Kimi. Sadly, his job on that day was not to race to the lead. His job was to cover off Hamilton and protect Vettel’s position in front. I don’t know what he was thinking. Maybe of the glory days?

20

My final take on this: Max would have hit Kimi no matter what. The fact Vettel did the Schumacher-chop helped Max tremendously- it made him look like an innocent victim in the whole incident when, in my view, he was the catalyst.

Max should have emerged from Turn 1 in P3; unfortunately his brain (and possibly dad) just cannot accept that.

21

We often hear Hamilton haters criticising him for arrogance but Vettels has a kind of superiority complex / arrogance tied in with his cheery chappy smiley I’m so cute attitude. When things go wrong we get the sullen attitude and denial of any wrongdoing. Deliberately ramming Hamilton on a previous restart shows his true self. He needs help. I don’t believe that winning a championship by cheating is a good thing for the person or the sport. The authorities treat him like a gifted child that they dare not discipline in case he or his bosses take their toys away.

22

Basically agreed, but not in relation to this last race, apart from the one word, “slightly”.

23

Well ok, lets analyse this. Max was away fast which Vettel noted an as an instinct he moved over towards Max but not came close when the mayham started. Kimmi had a very good start en ended up next to Max on the left of him. However (I studied the start, frame by frame) Kimmi thought he was clear of Max and started to move towards the middle of the track (see the attached picture, taken moments before impact). So at first Vettel was to blame but Kimmi started the true mayham en as he hit the left front tyre of Max Verstappen his car turned dramatically to the right hitting Vettel in the side (was seen on the onboard of Max Verstappen). So basically both Ferrari’s disqualified themselves and left Max with no space to go, taking him out along with themselves.

24

Enlarge this photo and you can quite clearly tell that the arrows for both of the Ferraris are misrepresented to be pointed toward Max.

Vettel and Max are on parallel paths at this point, angled slightly toward Kimi, who is driving straight.

Of all three drivers, Kimi has gone the straightest the whole time, and in fact is the only driver who has moved *away* from both of the others – by at least a meter or two.

25

Max has just travelled more than a metre toward RAI with his front wheel already almost touching the red sidepod, so even IF Kimi had moved ten centimetres it would made NO difference.

The irony of using this particular shot with the venom of the many aimed towards Vettel in mind, is that apart from the superimposed arrow line on the RAI car starting on the inside of the left rear tyre that protrudes farther and nearly hitting the right front to give a false impression, it also shows the trajectory of VET as the best of all and just about perfectly straight, which he was just about to be.

26

I agree with your analyse. Giving telemetry of KR and MV just before the crash will be really interesting to confirm or reject your interpretation of the crash.

27
Tornillo Amarillo

Back tyres are wider Kimi…
Calm down Seb…
Take-off next time Max…!
You missed the lead Ric!
Well done Lewis very aware of what others were doing!

28

Yes, it is a Ferrari or a Ferrari. Vettel only has himself to blame,” said 1997 F1 world champion Villeneuve. Niki Lauda, Mark Webber and Peter Windsor had the same view about the incident.

29

At the time I thought Max tagged Kimi’s right rear and that caused the problem, then on replays I thought it was Sebs fault for driving Max into Kimi. But watching the replays I think it’s a touch of both, Seb pulling left forces Max Left,. Max is concentrating on Seb and sees Kimi too late, but does instinctively pull left in response then hits Kimis rear wheel causing the whole shunt. 50% Seb, 50% Max for blame, just a shame that Kimi’s great start wasn’t rewarded.

30

Adrian

The other Adrian (with 3 stars) (me) who has posted on JA’s Forum for about 2 years doesn’t agree with you and I respectfully request that you consider using another name to avoid confusion. Otherwise I’ll be getting posts meant for you and you me.

What’s you policy on this sort of thing James?

31

It happens rarely so don’t have one

32

what if Max did not move left (let’s even imagine kimi wasn’t there). ?

As Seb was not totally in front of max, he would have the choice of stopping his “covering the corner” or cause a collision ?

it seems to me in the position of max, the only interest of conceding ground is if he hoped he would then pass seb in the extra time…which looked pretty hard to pull in the above screen shot

33

Looking at the video clips on F1.com, it gives a different perspective.
Looks like Max started aiming for SV, and was drifting towards him. Then realised he had left the door open for Kimi, and starts to move overto left but unfortunately kimi is nearly beside him. Looks like Max has been fortunate to not get the wrath of the press for this.
At least MAX knows that these two(SV and KR) would crash and end the race than shy away from his supposed tactic, next time he would not try to attempt this again.
Looking at his stats and crashes, says all about it.

34

How do “the best drivers in the world” have a pileup on the first lap and the first corner ?
The best drivers in the world DON’T

35

If anything Vettel should have stayed straight from his pole or moved right to get away from Kimi ( same car performance , great driver ) and Verstappen who is 100% plus going to go for it , With the conditions and the world championship on the line Vettel should of tried to stay out of as much trouble as possible Hamilton and Ricardo knew they had to get through the first corner first before the race really started , Vettel could have gone through in 3rd to 5th and easily had a chance of the win . I was surprised Kimi did not move over to the left a bit it looks like he had a metre to spare , If Vettel had not moved left this probably would not have happened but then it might of happened in the first corner but Vettel did not do himself any favours , I dont see any wrong with what Verstappen did he was trying to get a good start which he is paid to do and then he got squeezed pinzered squashed .

36

“Racing incident” and “thats racing” are much overused. Smashing a car to pieces and walking away without a scratch seems to be accepted as normal. It is not . The reason they are not dead is not because of our better safety measures … it is sheer luck, and that is running out. “The best drivers in the world” are on a knife edge …. and I do not want to watch this anymore.

37

We need cricket’s equivalent of ball tracker to see what would have happened if MV hadn’t been there.
Reckon SV would still have collected KR.
LH and FA showed their racecraft knowing that the grip on the outside line is good in the wet. Unfortunately FA got taken out.

38

Ball Tracker would be good, but will not work in F1 as the ball trajectory is dictated by gravity rather then adrenaline pumping gas monkeys

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