Hamilton under investigation over Japan driving 04 Oct 2007
Formula One stewards in Shanghai are examining new evidence concerning Lewis Hamiltons driving behind the safety car in last weekends rain-swept Japanese Grand Prix.
The McLaren star was leading the pack awaiting a restart when the two cars immediately behind him - Mark Webbers Red Bull and Sebastian Vettels Toro Rosso - collided, putting both out of the race.
Webber and Vettel both hinted that erratic driving from Hamilton had played a role in their shunt. Video footage is understood to show the championship leader moving to the right of the track and slowing immediately prior to the accident, in which Vettel ran into the back of Webber's car.
"It definitely contributed to Sebastian hitting me up the back because he (Hamilton) wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing (behind the safety car), clearly," Webber told Thursdays FIA press conference in China.
Vettel was penalised for his part in the accident and is due to drop ten places on the grid for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. As a human being you react to movement," he said on Thursday. "I saw Lewis move far to the right and thought he was coming to a stop... I obviously did not plan to ruin both of our races."
Prior to the incident, Hamilton had radioed his team to ask them to tell Red Bull to get Webber to drop back, as he felt the safety car was struggling to keep ahead of the pack in the difficult conditions.
When we were behind the second safety car, I was constantly on the radio to my engineers to tell the Red Bull team to get Mark (Webber) to make a little more of a gap because I couldnt go any faster because the pace car was in front of me, so I was trying to keep the distance with him and then Id move over because I couldnt see Mark and then hed just appear alongside me, so he kept out-braking himself. I felt something was going to happen, and I guess my instincts told me right.
Asked after the race about his apparently erratic driving behind the safety car, Hamilton said: That wasnt really the case - we just needed to keep the heat in the brakes. I was running quite a hard compound of brakes, so if I did light braking, I would have glazed the brakes. So I was making sure there was a little bit of a gap, maximising the gap that youre allowed, and use it to my benefit. It was tough because Mark behind me was just too close, and all of a sudden he braked really hard.
Stewards are expected to reconvene on Friday afternoon in Shanghai to reach a verdict on the matter.