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Hamilton's Japan GP win under investigation

NEWS STORY
04/10/2007

It is understood that Lewis Hamilton will meet with race stewards at Shanghai tomorrow (Friday), as they investigate his 'behaviour' behind the safety car during last weekend's Japanese GP.

At the end of the safety car period that followed Fernando Alonso's crash, the Englishman was seen to slow dramatically, catching Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel totally unawares, and leading to the German crashing into the back of the Australian, eliminating both cars.

Speaking after the race, Vettel said: "I was behind Lewis and Mark and exiting Turn 13, I looked to the right and saw Lewis going really slowly, I don't know why, but I thought he had a problem. Probably he was heating his brakes. Then, by the time I looked forward again, I was already in the back of Mark's car and I think he had also reacted to Lewis."

Though he didn't mention it at the time, only citing Vettel for hitting him, speaking at the FIA press conference in Shanghai today, Webber was highly critical of Hamilton's driving.

"It definitely contributed to Sebastian hitting me up the back because he wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing, clearly," said Webber, who looked set to claim second, his best ever GP result.

"He spoke in the drivers' meeting about how good a job he was going to do and he did the opposite," added the Australian. "Still, we know for next time."

Fan footage on Youtube, which appeared to support Vettel's claim, has now been removed by order of Bernie Ecclestone's FOrmulas One Management, however, The Times currently has footage online, which does show Hamilton slowing.

Article 40.10 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations states that: "The safety car shall be used at least until the leader is behind it and all remaining cars are lined up behind him. Once behind the safety car, the race leader must keep within 5 car lengths of it."

However, the footage shows Hamilton almost overtaking the safety car before slowing dramatically.

Earlier in the race, when the safety car pulled off track the first time, Hamilton was clearly seen 'playing games' with Fernando Alonso.

It is unclear what sanction Hamilton might face should the stewards rule against him. However, with Vettel being handed a ten-spot grid penalty, the Englishman could face a similar penalty. Then again, a 20s penalty, similar to that meted out to Tonio Liuzzi for overtaking Adrian Sutil under a yellow flag, could see Hamilton demoted to third place.

However, that might be seen as manipulating the result of the race, and thereby the World Championship fight, and that would never be allowed, would it?

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