Lewis Hamilton has voiced his concern at having the one hand he has on the Formula One world championship ripped away by the FIA, following complaints about his driving behind the safety car in Japan.

The Briton was warned that he could face sanctions from the governing body after previously unseen footage of the second safety car session at Fuji came to light on the internet. The film, thought to have been caught on a fan's mobile 'phone, shows the accident between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, which occurred directly behind Hamilton, and led to both drivers criticising the championship leader.

Paddock rumour suggests that, should the governing body decide to punish the Briton, he could lose the ten points he gained for winning the Japanese GP and/or be suspended for this weekend's Chinese race, although, now that the penultimate round has got underway, the latter is thought unlikely.

"I had a good weekend [in Japan], I didn't put a foot wrong [and] I didn't do anything to put anyone else in danger," he insisted when facing the media in Shanghai, "Now I've come to China and, all of a sudden, I'm going to be punished for something. I just think it's a real shame for the sport.

"Formula One's supposed to be about hard, fair competition. That's what I've tried to do this year, just be fair. There's been some real strange situations this year where I'm made to look the bad person and, by the looks of it, this weekend be given a penalty. If this is the way it's going to keep going, it's not somewhere I really want to be."

Hamilton began the Shanghai weekend by posting fourth fastest times in each of the two 90-minute practice sessions, behind the two Ferraris and McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso.

"Both sessions went pretty smoothly, and I was able to get a good handle on this circuit and completed the planned programme for today," he reported, "It is a nice track, and the car felt good to drive. I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend, where I expect that we have every chance for another strong result."

Alonso, with greater experience of the Shanghai International Circuit, pushed Raikkonen all the way for fastest time, but ultimately had to give best to the Finn by just 0.006secs.

"It was a very close practice session, with no problems throughout," the Spaniard commented, "As usual, we worked on our set-up in the morning and made some good progress there, and then, in the afternoon, we concentrated on the tyre comparison. It is good to be back in China as I like this circuit, and I expect it should be a very interesting weekend with the top four cars being very competitive here."

The team has made no comment regarding Hamilton's possible punishment, but is expected to present its case to the FIA should the governing body decide to act.

 

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