Hamilton fastest as drivers ask for 'weaving' clarification

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The Independent Online

In the wake of Lewis Hamilton escaping sanction for the 'weaving' incident in the Malaysian Grand Prix of two weeks ago there have been renewed calls for penalties against drivers who use the tactic to avoid being overtaken on the straights.

The McLaren driver was given a black-and-white warning flag for weaving across the track in front of Vitaly Petrovi at Sepang ago but team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "The stewards there looked at this and decided not to penalise Lewis, who was seeking to break the tow, not prevent an overtaking move. As always, Lewis drives and races passionately, but always seeks to be entirely safe."

Hamilton's fellow drivers, however, asked race director Charlie Whiting to impose a drive-through penalty in future instances, during their regular afternoon briefing, after seeking clarification of the rule in the FIA's Sporting Code which allows drivers only one uni-directional move to defend their position.

The Lotus driver Jarno Trulli said: "It is written in the rules that you cannot move more than once, but he got only a black-and-white warning flag. Most of the drivers think that, no matter whether it is Lewis or anyone else, you shouldn't do it. And if you do, Charlie should not give a reprimand but a penalty so that we all know not to do it. We don't want a yellow card, we would prefer to have a red card.

"The drivers would like it to be clear whether or not you can do that. It's not a comment on Lewis. People were concerned because he moved a few times. But he claimed that he was trying to break the tow, which is fair enough."

Hamilton, who set the fastest time overall in practice yesterday, emerged smiling and said that he had been the one making the moves, whereas if he had been reacting to Petrov's moves in order to block him there would have been a stronger case for suggesting that he was driving in an improper manner.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg set the second fastest time just ahead of Jenson Button in the second McLaren, but Michael Schumacher and the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were all strongly in the hunt.

Hamilton is hoping for a trouble-free qualifying session today so that he can finally challenge at the front. "You have seen our pace in the last two races," he said. "It's been good. But we've come from the back. We've come from 11th up to the front and from 20th up to the front. Ideally we would like to get into Q3 and have a top-five start, which would enable us to be competitive for the win."

Chinese Grand Prix: Practice times

(Shanghai): First Practice: 1 J Button (GB) McLaren 1min 36.667secs; 2 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1:36.748; 3 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:36.775; 4 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes 1:37.509; 5 S Vettel (Ger) RedBull 1:37.601; 6 R Kubica (Pol) Renault 1:37.716; 7 V Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:37.745; 8 M Webber (Aus) RedBull 1:37.980; 9 A Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:38.008; 10 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:38.098 11 J Alguersuari (Sp) Toro Rosso 1:38.161; 12 K Kobayashi (Japan) BMW Sauber 1:38.375; 13 P de la Rosa (Sp) BMW Sauber 1:38.421; 14 N Huelkenberg (Ger) Williams 1:38.569; 15 P di Resta (GB) Force India 1:38.618; 16 R Barrichello (Br) Williams 1:38.678; 17 S Buemi (Swit) Toro Rosso 1:39.939; 18 J Trulli (It) Lotus 1:41.531; 19 H Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus 1:41.779; 20 T Glock (Ger) Virgin 1:41.830; 21 L Di Grassi (Br) Virgin 1:42.181; 22 B Senna (Br) HRT 1:43.875; 23 K Chandhok (India) HRT 1:43.949; 24 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari.

Second Practice: 1 Hamilton 1min 35.217secs; 2 Rosberg 1:35.465; 3 Button 1:35.593; 4 Schumacher 1:35.602; 5 Vettel 1:35.791; 6 Webber 1:35.995; 7 Sutil 1:36.254; 8 Alguersuari 1:36.377; 9 Kubica 1:36.389; 10 Alonso 1:36.604; 11 Massa 1:36.944; 12 Petrov 1:36.986; 13 De la Rosa 1:37.421; 14 Kobayashi 1:37.431; 15 Barrichello 1:37.657; 16 Liuzzi 1:37.804; 17 Hulkenberg 1:37.867; 18 Trulli 1:39.624; 19 Kovalainen 1:39.947; 20 Glock 1:40.233; 21 Chandhok 1:41.008; 22 Di Grassi 1:41.107; 23 Senna 1:41.345; 24 Buemi, no time.