YouTube video of Lewis Hamilton's erratic driving could cost him world title


Last updated at 22:00 05 October 2007

Lewis Hamilton

A video posted on YouTube is threatening to wreck Lewis Hamilton's dream of winning the Formula One title in his debut year.

The clip - filmed on a mobile phone by a spectator - apparently shows the 22-year-old prodigy driving erratically during his last race.

Hamilton is seen slowing down inexplicably, apparently causing two drivers behind him to crash.

The incident happened during Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix while a safety car was on the track to slow the drivers down in appalling weather.

The footage, which has been seen by thousands on the YouTube website, has now been brought to the attention of race officials who are investigating whether Hamilton broke Formula One rules.

If he is found guilty, he could lose the ten championship points he was awarded for winning the race.

Scroll down to see the video

That would reduce his lead in the drivers' table to a nerve-jangling two points with two races remaining.

It is not known who posted the footage on the internet.

The 19-second clip was initially removed from the video-sharing website but it is now possible to view it again.

The incident, which happened in front of the grandstand at the Fuji circuit, was missed by TV cameras.

Hamilton, from Stevenage in Hertfordshire, has had a sensational debut season.

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lewis hamilton and safety car

He finished in the top three in his first nine races and has won four of the 15 Grand Prix held so far.

But his championship hopes have been put in jeopardy by the YouTube footage which shows him directly behind the safety car before pulling over to the right-hand side of the track and slowing sharply.

This caused the driver behind him, Mark Webber, to brake suddenly and for the Australian's Red Bull car to be shunted by a Torro Rosso driven by Sebastian Vettel of Germany.

Both men were forced to withdraw from the race and have been critical of Hamilton's actions before the collision.

Formula One rules state that the leading driver must stay within five lengths of the safety car and not brake or accelerate suddenly.

Hamilton's nearest challenger in the title race is Fernando Alonso, his McLaren team-mate who crashed out of the race in Japan.

The pair have had a tempestuous season with the twotimes world champion from Spain seeming ill at ease with the young pretender.

Without a penalty, and with the season in its closing stages, Hamilton would be a very strong favourite to land the title.

Were he to do so, he would become the youngest driver to claim the crown and the first driver to win in his debut year.

Alonso is the sport's youngest champion, claiming victory in 2005 at the age of 25.

Instead of a points deduction, officials may decide to push Hamilton ten places back in the grid for this weekend's race at the Shanghai International Circuit in China.

It is believed Formula One chiefs have already held a meeting with him to discuss the incident.

They are expected to announce any action tomorrow.

An official said: "We understand the stewards of the meeting have received new evidence and are looking into the relevant matter.

"It would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this stage, in particular as to what penalty, if any, might be imposed."

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