Tuning in on Sunday night, F1 fans worldwide could be forgiven for thinking that they were tuning in to a new season of Game of Thrones (GoT) with all the 2017 Singapore GP race plot twists and characters.
The rain was falling over the Marina Bay Street Circuit, but The Rains of Castamere was noticeably absent. However, the ensuing opening lap carnage seemed to be a page right out of George Martin’s fantasy drama.
Like in the now infamous Red Wedding scene, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel initiated a series of events that changed the face of the race.
But the stage was already set in qualifying; with three houses (Arch-rivals Ferrari, Mercedes as well as Red Bull) entangled in a fierce three-way battle. The aggressive competition motivated a new qualifying record from Ferrari’s Vettel (1:39.491) and saw the three teams secured the top six starting positions.
Now that you have some context, we bring you all the drama ala GoT style from the Singapore night race.
Red Wedding moment: Vettel’s opening lap rampage
After a tight qualifying contest between Ferrari and Red Bull, the nerves finally got the better of Vettel at the start of the race.
Much like Robb Stark at the Red Wedding, Vettel held the upper hand having secured the starting pole position and a new qualifying lap record. However, a fast start by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and fellow Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen changed all that.
The German, checking the surging Verstappen, first squeezed the Red Bull driver into a collision with Raikkonen. Subsequently, Vettel then crashed into Raikkonen before the first corner, which took Raikkonen, Verstappen and ultimately himself out of the race.
Valar morghulis indeed, Vettel.
The Biggest Let Down aka Oberyn Martell: Sebastian Vettel
Like Oberyn Martell’s fight to the death with the Mountain, Sebastian Vettel seemed poised to emerge as the victor in the 2017 Singapore GP duel. But like the famed Red Viper of Dorne, the Ferrari driver’s overconfidence might have cost him dearly.
It seems that Verstappen’s pre-race comments about attacking him from the start might have affected Vettel, resulting in his slow start. And Verstappen lulled him, just as the Mountain cunningly tricked Martell, into a collision with team mate Raikkonen – taking all three of them out of Sunday race.
The Dark Horse aka Hordor: Fernando Alonso
In a F1 season most remembered for his engine complaints, McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso finally did his talking on the circuit.
The two-time Singapore GP winner, starting in eighth, kept up his pre-race vow of a double-points finish with a flying start on the outside. Drawing parallels with GoT’s dark horse Hordor, the Spaniard finally came good and delivered a race performance befitting of his abilities.
But alas, Alonso got clipped by a reeling Verstappen and Raikkonen at the first turn and had to retire due to car damage later on. Much like Hordor holding the door, the pressure was just too much to handle.
Mr Slow and Steady aka The Mountain: Valtteri Bottas
Picking up where they left off in Monza, the Mercedes team landed yet another victory in Singapore – a budding bromance between drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Their almost telepathic understanding saw them occupy the top two podium spots at Monza previously, and Bottas battled hard to finish third to Hamilton’s first in Singapore.
And like the Mountain aka Gregor Clegane, Bottas might pale in comparison with his more illustrious Mercedes’ driver/’bro’ Hamilton, but you can always rely on him to be there in the end.
The Young Upstart aka Robb Stark: Max Verstappen
Despite being only 19 years of age, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has shown experience beyond his tender years. It is no lucky accident that the Dutchman managed to secure the second starting spot.
And like the young King of the North, the swashbuckling Verstappen always seem to be cut down before unleashing his potential. With seven retirements in the F1 calendar, we can only pray he doesn’t lose his head first.
The Future King aka Jon Snow: Daniel Ricciardo
Already signalling his intention to challenge for the championship next season, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo sent a strong warning with his second-place podium finish.
The 28-year-old Australian was flying through the early practices, but had to settle for third in the starting grid – behind Vettel and Verstappen.
While he knew nothing about the opening lap carnage, Ricciardo channelled his inner Jon Snow by keeping calm and rising through the pressure to feel like a million bucks.
The Invisible Schemer aka Littlefinger: Chase Carey
Despite all the action that happened on the Marina Bay Street Circuit, the biggest story that came out this F1 weekend will no doubt be the extension of the Singapore GP.
New F1 boss Chase Carey, working silently behind the scenes, successfully negotiated the new four-year extension for one of the crown jewels in the race calendar. All for the good of the (F1) realm.
Such astute business acumen and dealings are key attributes of the Master of Coin, Petyr Baelish (otherwise known as Littlefinger) and Carey has proven that he has earned his reputation.
The Outsider aka Theon Greyjoy: Jolyon Palmer
Abandoned by the House of Renault, it is safe to say that driver Jolyon Palmer is feeling a tad like an outsider. Much like Ned Stark’s ward, Theon Greyjoy.
The Brit driver learnt online that he was being axed, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz replacing him next season. Rumour has it that Palmer could be out as soon as Wednesday, rather than at the end of the season.
Here’s hoping that Palmer doesn’t get lost at sea for next season…
The Forgotten House: Ferrari
There was a lot riding on the Singapore GP for Ferrari.
After a less-than-stellar showing at Monza, the Ferrari-Mercedes rivalry was suppose to really heat up in the local humidity. One wrong move, however, saw all their qualifying efforts wasted and left them behind in the drivers and constructors championship.
As such, the prancing stallion should heed the lessons of the now-defunct House Tyrell. Once the second most powerful House in Westeros, House Tyrell made the wrong move of backing the wrong Queen. A move that resulted in their annihilation from the land and history books.
The Rising House: Red Bull
Before practice on Friday, even the most diehard Red Bull Racing fan would have laughed at the possibility of a podium finish. But Red Bull and their drivers have shown over the course of the weekend that there is more to F1 than the Mercedes-Ferrari rivalry.
Though Daniel Ricciardo came in second, Red Bull could have clocked more points in the drivers and constructors standing IF Verstappen wasn’t the meat in the Ferrari sandwich in the opening stretch.
Next up, Sepang. But, will the charging Red Bull finally be ready to make its way past the prancing horse (Ferrari) and the proverbial lion king of the track, Mercedes?