Sebastian Vettel views the Singapore Grand Prix as the moment the 2018 drivers' championship started to slip through his fingers.
Vettel's title hopes were finally extinguished at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday when he failed to win the race and Lewis Hamilton secured 12 points in fourth place. Although the championship result had been a foregone conclusion for several races, as recently as the Italian Grand Prix in early September Vettel was still being talked about as the favourite for the title.
Looking back on the season as a whole, the German Grand Prix in July stands out as a turning point after Vettel threw away 25 points by crashing out of the lead of the race. However, for Ferrari the most galling defeat was almost certainly at its home race at Monza when Vettel was blocked by teammate Kimi Raikkonen at the start and then spun to the back of the field after contact with Hamilton.
Yet Vettel points to the race after Monza as the moment when his title campaign started to unravel.
"For me it was more Singapore," he said. "I think from Singapore onwards we just didn't have the pace to keep up with Mercedes for a couple of races and then obviously some other things happened on top that didn't help and we couldn't score the points due to mistakes that we did and the mistakes that I did."
Ahead of the Singapore weekend, Vettel was the favourite to win the race but a poor qualifying performance saw him beaten to the front row of the grid by Hamilton and Max Verstappen. The race also coincided with the introduction of a bunch of high-risk upgrades to his Ferrari, which were ultimately removed at the U.S. Grand Prix when the team discovered they were detrimental to the performance of the car.
Vettel's had two more costly collisions in Japan and the U.S.A., which saw him drop another 20 points to Hamilton and need a miracle in Mexico just to stay in the hunt. Although the accident at Hockenheim still stands out as the most coslty because he missed out on a near-certain victory at a crucial part of the season, Vettel said it wasn't his biggest error of the year.
"I can't be too hard on myself with what happened in Germany because it's not like... I've done much bigger mistakes this year, but obviously it was the most costly one. Unfortunately it's part of racing: when you push you might be sometimes pushing a little bit too hard. I chose the wrong corner [to do it] as well [because of the waiting gravel trap].
"But anyway, it's behind me and I'm not really thinking about that too much. I consider it part of racing and it happens to others as well. So, yeah, seeing that I struggled in the last couple of weeks, just for pace and speed, that was probably more defining than that."