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Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen wiped out in first lap carnage

Sebastian Vettel's chances of leaving Singapore with the Formula One world championship lead are in tatters after a dramatic Turn 1 collision involving teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Rain at the Marina Bay street circuit in the hours before lights out raised the possibility of the first wet Singapore race in its 10-year history. However, race control decided against taking the option of starting the race under the Safety Car.

Red Bulls Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen out after the crash. Lars Baron/Getty Images
Though the race had seemed posed to be a fight between Ferrari and Red Bull for victory, that all changed seconds after the lights went out.

Verstappen -- who qualified second on the grid -- made a good start but so did Raikkonen from third and he was soon alongside the 19-year-old's car. Vettel's getaway was routine but he soon found Verstappen closing in on him on the inside, and the Ferrari driver moved across to cover the Red Bull, apparently unaware Raikkonen was on the other side of the No.33 car and next to the pit wall.

Sandwiched between the two Ferraris, Verstappen made contact with Raikkonen, sending the Finnish driver's car into the pit wall. Raikkonen lost control of his car and collected Verstappen as he slid uncontrollably into Turn 1, causing irreparable damage to both cars and forcing them out of the race immediately.

Vettel appeared to have escaped from the incident without damage despite having been hit by his own teammate's car. However, on the exit of Turn 2 he lost control of his car, spinning into the wall and out of the race.

When asked after the incident if he felt the race should have been started under the Safety Car, Vettel replied: "I don't know. I didn't see that much. I saw Max and then the next thing I see is Kimi hitting the side of me and Max somewhere there.

"It is what it is and we move on. It doesn't change much. Obviously we are not in the race, that's a pity, we can't show the pace that we have but I am sure there will be more opportunities."

Remarkably, that gave main title rival Lewis Hamilton -- whose prospects of a strong race looked bleak in the dry when he qualified fifth -- the lead of the race as the Safety Car came out while the damaged cars were removed from the circuit.

With a three-point lead in the championship before the start of the race, Hamilton could leave Singapore with 28 points in hand over Vettel, his main rival. The carnage also saw Renault pair Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer and Force India's Sergio Perez take the restart ahead of the struggling Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

Author: Nate Saunders, ESPN UK
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20731744/sebastian-vettel-max-verstappen-kimi-raikkonen-wiped-first-lap-carnage

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