Sebastian Vettel blamed for 'extraordinary recklessness'
British press say Ferrari driver has potentially thrown away 2017 title
By Pete Gill and James Galloway
Last Updated: 30/09/17 8:28am
Sebastian Vettel's 'extraordinary piece of recklessness' triggered a potentially-pivotal turning point in the title race, according to Fleet Street.
Vettel crashed out of Sunday's Singapore GP after a ruinous collision with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen at the first corner.
Lewis Hamilton's subsequent victory leaves the Mercedes driver 28 points clear in the standings with six races remaining.
'For one so calculated, Sebastian Vettel threw the Singapore GP away with an extraordinary piece of recklessness,' summarised The Daily Telegraph's Oliver Brown.
'The blame rested largely with Vettel, who was inexplicably reckless in trying to shut off Verstappen, a figure of no significance in the larger battle he was waging with Hamilton.'
The Guardian's Giles Richards concurred with that assessment, writing: 'The crash was investigated after the race by the stewards and adjudged to be a racing incident, with no further action to be taken, but earlier the team had tweeted their belief that Verstappen was to blame: "VER took #Kimi7 out and then he went to #Seb5."
'However, with hindsight Vettel must consider that moving across the track to defend against a charging Verstappen was too aggressive a move with a world championship at stake.
'The season is far from over but Ferrari and Vettel must consider that their efforts may have been undone in that single defining moment under the unyielding glare of the floodlights at Marina Bay, and Hamilton, who has now won three races in a row and four of the last five, knows it.'
In The Daily Mail, Jonathan McEvoy added: 'Who was to blame for the crash? The stewards found nobody was 'wholly or predominantly' culpable, and that seemed fair. But if anyone was a touch more responsible than anyone else it seemed to be Vettel. Certainly, that was the majority view in the paddock, not least among ex-drivers, whose instinctive feel for these kinds of close encounters are keen.'
But McEvoy also focused on the relationship between Vettel and Verstappen, asking whether the pair's history could have played a part in their collision.
'An interesting consideration is the Vettel-Verstappen relationship. It is as sour as lemon juice. They have sparred on and off track before, most famously when their joust at Mexico last year so enraged Vettel that he repeatedly swore at the race director, calling for the teenager to be punished for over-aggression,' he wrote.
'One suspects Vettel may have been more circumspect if it had been someone else alongside him. Did a flash of retributive anger not cloud his judgment when all sense suggested he should have carried on in a straight line rather than risk ruination, in the wet, by turning very slightly towards Verstappen? If so, Vettel showed again the same impetuous streak that caused him to ram into Hamilton in the Austrian race. For all his smiles - and he is a very nice chap - there may be a chink here, perhaps a slight immaturity.'
Although there remain 150 points up for grabs before the title race is decided, The Times' Rebecca Clancy believes Singapore can be seen as nothing else but a "massive blow to Vettel's championship hopes" given it was a race Ferrari expected to win.
'His reaction to claiming pole, which had led to victory in each of the previous five Grands Prix, showed just how much he was aware that he needed the win - visibly shaking and punching the air as if he had taken the victory,' she said.
The weekend has left Hamilton, chasing a fourth career world title, as the man firmly in the box seat heading into the Malaysia-Japan double-header.
'His miracle came not just in the form of three cars in front of him smashing into each other but the heavens opened just minutes before the start of the race to produce the first wet race under the lights at its 10th anniversary,' Clancy added. 'There is no better driver on the grid in the wet than the Briton and he knows it.'