F1: Drive-through penalty denies Hamilton European Grand Prix victory

LEWIS Hamilton finished second in today’s European Grand Prix behind race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Runner-up around the Valencia street circuit in 2008 and 2009, Herts-born Hamilton had to settle for the same spot on the podium for a third year running.

Vettel won the Spanish race for Red Bull from pole position, with a drive-through penalty costing Hamilton the chance of completing a hat-trick of successive Formula 1 victories after taking the chequered flag in Turkey and Canada.

McLaren’s Hamilton found himself more than 14 seconds behind Vettel after serving his penalty but chipped away at that lead and closed to within six seconds before giving up the chase in the closing laps.

Despite not catching German Vettel, Englishman Hamilton still leads the FIA World Championship heading into his home race at Silverstone on July 11.

Hamilton’s team-mate, reigning F1 world champion Jenson Button, finished third for McLaren in the provisional European GP results, but is under investigation by race stewards for driving too fast behind the safety car.

Eight other drivers are also being looked at after the race.

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Rubens Barrichello, winner in Valencia last year for Brawn GP, was fourth for Williams with Robert Kubica fifth in the Renault.

Hamilton’s victory hopes in Valencia were hampered by a drive-through penalty for overtaking the safety car following Mark Webber’s spectacular crash into the back of Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus on lap 10. Incredibly, Webber emerged unscathed after flipping through the air in his Red Bull.

Running second at the time, Hamilton served his penalty on lap 27 and managed to retain his place on exiting the pit straight.

He found himself 14.2 seconds behind race leader Vettel at the point, but slashed that advantage until hitting backmarker traffic.

It was an eventful race for Tewin F1 hero Hamilton. Starting third on the grid, the 25-year-old McLaren Mercedes driver took Mark Webber on the run to the first corner on lap one.

Having overtaken the Australian, Hamilton – again watched by Pussycat Dolls girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger – went wheel-to-wheel with pole-sitter Vettel in the other Red Bull.

Hamilton said over the team radio: “Vettel hit me. I’ve got a vibration on my left front.”

As a result of the incident, Hamilton suffered minor damage to the front of his MP4-25.

He dived into the pits for repair work to his McLaren during the saftey car period following Webber’s high-speed collision with Kovalainen.

Lewis was later penalised by stewards with a drive-through and that denied him the chance of catching Vettel in the end.

It’s one-nil to Germany ahead of the two nations’ World Cup clash in South Africa!

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