Lewis Hamilton's bid to clinch the drivers' title this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix may hit a hitch before the race even starts. McLaren's championship leader is under investigation by the stewards for his behaviour behind the safety car at...
Lewis Hamilton's bid to clinch the drivers' title this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix may hit a hitch before the race even starts. McLaren's championship leader is under investigation by the stewards for his behaviour behind the safety car at the last race in Fuji, where he apparently slowed unexpectedly and two cars behind him crashed.
Mark Webber's Red Bull was running second and Sebastian Vettel's Toro Rosso third when Hamilton went to the right of the track close behind the safety car then seemed to slow quite considerably. Distracted by this, Vettel hit the back of Webber's car and they both had to retire. Vettel was later punished with a 10 place grid demotion penalty for this race at Shanghai.
New video footage of the incident, reportedly recorded by a fan at the circuit and subsequently posted on the internet, came to the attention of Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost, who informed the stewards. Tost said his intentions were not to get Hamilton in trouble but to get Vettel's penalty removed, as he believes it is unfair.
Webber thinks that Hamilton's actions played a part in the incident with Vettel. "It definitely contributed to Sebastian hitting me up the back -- we were confused at what the other car (Hamilton) was doing because he wasn't doing what you are supposed to do (behind the safety car)," the Australian said during the FIA's Thursday press conference at Shanghai.
Vettel explained his view of it: "All of a sudden I saw Lewis pulling far to the right and slowing down a lot. I was wondering what happened to him, I already thought he's retiring, there's no more power. That's what it looked like for me because he was going so slowly, and yeah, by the time I looked back in front of me I was already in Mark's rear, so for sure, I apologise again."
The regulations state that the race leader must stay within five car lengths of the safety car but in the video footage it appeared Hamilton almost overtook it before he slowed. A decision is expected by the stewards at Shanghai on Friday -- it's not certain what punishment Hamilton might face, if any, but a grid demotion such as Vettel was given is possible.