Video: Hamilton faces investigation over Vettel crash

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Fuji Speedway, 2007 | Daimler ChryslerThe 2007 world championship has taken another controversial twist as Lewis Hamilton faces a possible punishment for his driving in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Amateur video of the crash between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber has led to an investigation into Lewis Hamilton’s driving in the run-up to the crash.

The video shows Hamilton closing up on the safety car then slowing down and moving to the right moments before the crash that eliminated the Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers. See the video below.

In the safety car period that followed Sebastian Vettel hit Mark Webber, putting both out. Leader Hamilton said afterwards that he had radioed the pits asking that Webber be told to give him more space after fearing a collision.

This video shows Hamilton moving to the right and slowing down just before the crash. Vettel, who will be moved back ten places on the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix as a punishment for his role in the crash, admitted he was busy watching Hamilton when he hit Webber.

But Webber said Hamilton’s driving contributed to the crash: “It definitely contributed to Sebastian hitting me up the back because he [Hamilton] wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing, clearly.”

After the race Hamilton said: “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 couldn’t go any faster because the pace car was in front of me, so I was trying to keep the distance with him and then I’d move over because I couldn’t see Mark and then he’d 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.”

Hamilton has a 12-point lead over Fernando Alonso and 17 points over Kimi Raikkonen with 20 points left to be won over the final two races. (Thanks to Sidepodcast for the video tip).

More videos from the Japanese Grand Prix:Fernando Alonso looked set to claim pole position in qualifying but a last-gasp lap from Lewis Hamilton pipped the Spaniard by 0.07s. (Apologies for the music – nothing to do with me).

Ferrari got plenty of pit stop practice in after they sent their drivers onto the soaked circuit on intermediate tyres. The team later claimed they had not received an order from the stewards instructing all teams to start on extreme wet tyres.

Hamilton won the Grand Prix but Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica stole the show with this thrilling tussle in sight of the chequered flag.

Don’t miss your chance to win one of ten copies of James Allen’s new book “Michael Schumacher: The Edge of Greatness” in our exclusive competition. Enter the competition and read an exclusive excerpt from the book, and read the review now! (NB. Competition only open to UK residents.)

Photo: GEPA / Mathias Kniepeiss

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69 comments on Video: Hamilton faces investigation over Vettel crash

  1. oliver said on 4th October 2007, 13:59

    Fine everyone has a valid point, but does anyone know really if the pace/safety car was maintaining a steady pace all through, or if the driver was also finding the conditions very difficult, lets not forget, a formula1 can would easily outbreak and out accelerate the pace car, and i believe it would be extremely difficult for a formula1 car to maintain a very slow pace lap after lap more especially in those conditions like was experienced at fuji.

    I also feel the pace car would even lift off more spray from its tires than the formula1 cars.

  2. If you repeat the film over and see what hamilton is trying to avoid , there was some water on the race track and was splashed by the safety car , hamilton moved out and slowed because of his sense as a driver knowing that webber has clearly no idea about what is he getting into , and then he brakes further when he realised than the accident is inevitable , he is a quality driver and did very well avoiding the crash and shame on webber to start accusing people for his and vettel’s mistakes , they were gambling on hamilton braking under their pressure forgetting safety , Hamilton is innocent ,a superb racer and he is the next champion .

  3. verasaki said on 4th October 2007, 14:23

    Good point Oliver, which is why Hamilton should have had a little more distance between them. That’s about all I see he could be held accountable for. Or is Button’s observation addressing something he saw in another part of the track? Was this Hamilton just being caught out by surprise or was he just a bit too cocky behind the pace car?

  4. Number 38 said on 4th October 2007, 14:35

    You want an answer to all these questions……set back Hamilton 10 grid spots and listen to his whining, that will tell more about HIM than we can guess at from 1000s of miles away. Ron Dennis absorbed some punishment (perhaps undue punishment) and just got back to the job at hand, Hammy will cry like the kid he is.

  5. freddie said on 4th October 2007, 14:52

    Hamilton’s a dirty player, ya’ll see.

  6. Konstantin Kaos said on 4th October 2007, 15:16

    The rules state, that the leader cannot be further than five car-lengths away from the pace car and after hamilton almost passes the pace car he instantly drops more than said five car-lengths away. This caught Webber by surprise and Vettel also, who said that he was watching what happened to Hamilton, and has taken his share of the blame.

    Looking also the harse penalties (Liuzzi f.e.) given this season, this incident CANNOT go unpunished or the integrity of the sport is in question. The exemption of Alonso and Hamilton on the McLaren-Ferrari case was alreasy a bit reaching.

  7. Madhu said on 4th October 2007, 15:58

    Fact 1: Hamilton’s Driving was poor and erratic under the safety car. It seemed like he was the leader behind the safety car first time in his life. I was always getting a strange feeling that first Alonso and Hamilton were going to crash behind safety car and then mark Webber and Hamilton was going to crash. Alonso was experienced, so he got lucky. Hamilton should get a penalty not just for that incident but for the entire poor driving behind safety car.

    Fact 2: Vettel is supposed to look at the car in front and not elsewhere. This is a formula 1 Grand prix under safety car in blinding rain. You are not supposed to take it like a victory lap or a pleasant drive on the country side on a bright clear sunny day gazing around. Though personally I should say that I am very impressed about vettel. It is the learning curve, unfortunately this was a very sharp turn.

    Fact 3: Formula 1’s video system needs some improvement. They missed such an important incident like this and it gets FIA’s attention through a personal video.

    BOTTOM LINE : BOTH HAMILTON AND VETTEL SHOULD GET A 10 POSITION PENALTY WITH A MESSAGE FROM FIA “LEARN HOW TO DRIVE BEHIND SAFETY CAR IN RAIN”.

  8. I watched the GP on a bar, and I remember very clearly I was yelling like a madman at Webber “you’re going to hit Hamilton you idiot”, turn after turn. He was just too damn close to be safe, a few minutes later, Vettel rams Webber.

    As far as I know, the driver behind the SC can do whatever the hell he wants, slow down, speed up, etc. The ones behind him can also do what they please, always being mindful of the car in front.

    I’m convinced that Vettel didn’t look at Webber, and Webber brake too hard and sudden. So, the penalty should be shared among them.

    Hamilton was in the other side of the track, I just don’t see how this could have been his fault.

  9. Magnus said on 4th October 2007, 16:32

    Heh, Hamilton always brings on the comments.

    Personal feelings about Hamilton aside I agree with Madhu. Driving behind the safety car is supposed to be just that, safe. Especially in pouring rain so Hamilton should get a grid demotion too.

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th October 2007, 18:02

    Apologies to those of you experiencing difficulties accessing the site today. Traffic’s through the roof and I’m looking at my second server upgrade of the season!

  11. Wow… the excuses being thrown around here are astounding. You all really do love Hamilton, don’t you?

    Hamilton dove to the right and braked hard, thus, Webber had to brake hard as he was very very close to overtaking Hamilton. It’s the very logic of a chain reaction. If one comes to a near stop, the others must as well. I’d say that Lewis hit the brakes and dove to the right so Webber might fly right past him. He’d been making repeated attempts to do just that for several laps.

  12. Is this a stupid question – since there ALWAYS seems to be a problem behind the safety car in terms of speed (i.e. the safety car being too slow) – why, OH why don;t they just get a faster safety car?? surely they could strap some lights to an old F1 car or a champ car or ANYTHING – and have them run at a decent speed so they can keep their tyres and brakes up to temp, and not have these problems. It’s not exactly rocket science is it?

  13. Keith, you’re a stats man – how about totting up for us the number of times McLaren have been “investigated” this season and comparing it with the number of investigations of incidents involving other teams? It may be that passions are more easily aroused in the Ferrari/McLaren war and so McLaren incidents get noticed more, but it certainly feels as though the ratio is about two McLaren investigations to one of any other.

    Or maybe Alianora could do it for us.

  14. Josh – this was covered somewhere, the pace car is the fastest thing they can drive that doesn’t require it’s own full-time crew, special tyres etc.

  15. Wesley said on 4th October 2007, 19:52

    Sounds logical to me JOSH!

  16. MYTC786 said on 4th October 2007, 20:11

    I think Hamilton was in his rights to slow down.. it was pouring. Vettel was the guy that was supposed to be watching the guy in front of him.
    Webber is mad that he has a crap car and thats why he wants Hamilton penalised. Alonso should keep his mouth shut and stop looking for handouts to try and win this years championship.

    Stop blaming a championship leader because you all envy him – Its not good sportmanship!!

  17. Webber was too close to Hamilton.

    Hamilton was too close to safety car – I think the distance is 5 car-lengths or so. Almost parallel to it. His driving to the right and braking could have made the other two confused for a second – wondering if he has shut down and what to do next.

    But in the end, looking at the video, I think all three needs to be punished.

  18. MYTC786 said on 4th October 2007, 20:21

    MAX penalty they can give Hamilton is a 3 place drop on the grid – IT WAS VETTEL’S FAULT

  19. oliver said on 4th October 2007, 20:48

    Vettel was probably thinking, oh wow im going to be second, until he heard the sound of carbon fiber first hand. When on the race track, u stay focused on whats in front of you, and not turn your eyes away to read road side advertising.

    What if Hamilton was slowing down because there was an obstacle in front, it would mean Vettel would still have collected that obstacle. And why did he spend so long looking at Hamilton, did he want to wave, or ask him what he had for breakfast?

    My belief, if you are on the race track, and you do not focus on whats in front of you, the sound of carbon fibre would remain consistent.

  20. oliver said on 4th October 2007, 20:50

    By the way, does anyone know if they have been able to retrieve Webbers steering?

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