Hamilton’s road car impounded by police

By NEIL FRANKLAND AP Sports Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia(AP)—Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton apologized for his “over exuberant” driving after his road car was impounded by police near the entrance to the Australian Grand Prix on Friday.

The 2008 F1 world champion was charged with improper use of a vehicle, and the silver Mercedes Sedan will not be eligible for release until Monday.

The British driver’s indiscretion comes the same week the sports world governing body, FIA, announced race cars from the Melbourne GP onward would be branded with “Make Roads Safe” to raise awareness of global road safety.

“I was driving in an over-exuberant manner and, as a result, was stopped by the police,” Hamilton said in a statement. “What I did was silly, and I want to apologize for it.”

Police constable Scott Woodford said the 25-year-old Hamilton’s rear wheels were skidding as he accelerated out of Albert Park several hours after the first official practice sessions for Sunday’s GP.

“He was disappointed with the incident but extremely cooperative with police,” Woodford said. “Given that Melbourne is on the world stage with a lot of interstate and international visitors, we would expect drivers to observe road rules.” Earlier Friday, Hamilton set the fastest lap in Friday’s rain-affected second practice session.

His time of 1 minute, 26.801 seconds put him a quarter of a second ahead of McLaren teammate and British compatriot Jenson Button. Hamilton placed third in the season-opening GP at Bahrain earlier this month.

Australian Grand Prix boss Ron Walker defended Hamilton, describing him as a “fine man.”

“I know Lewis Hamilton well and he spends a lot of his time talking to young people about road safety,” Walker was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun newspaper Saturday. “I think he can be forgiven for this indiscretion.

“I think the right foot felt the urge to accelerate and indicate to people the Mercedes has huge power. I’m not making excuses, but he’s a fine man.

“These things happen sometimes and if you want to hold these international events you have to be forgiving.”

Victoria state Major Events Minister Tim Holding was less understanding.

“The place for driving like a Formula One driver is here on the track … it’s not on Victoria’s roads,” he said.

In 2007, Hamilton’s car was impounded in France after he was caught speeding by police.

On Thursday, FIA president Jean Todt said FIA is developing a 10-year plan to support the United Nations’ General Assembly’s declaration of a Decade of Action of Road Safety from 2011-2020.

“The strong support by F1 teams and the commercial rights holder will help the road safety message from the top level of motor sport to the wider motoring public, and will set the stage for further participation of other motor sport competitors in the UN Decade of Action,” Todt said.


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Updated Friday, Mar 26, 2010