Lewis Hamilton came within inches of crashing out of the German GP behind the Safety Car, it has been revealed.
While the deployment of the Safety Car nearly wrecked Hamilton's hopes of victory, causing a procession to become a dramatic charge to regain the lead of the race, it also nearly made a literal wreck of his McLaren.
The Independent claims that, in an incident missed by the television cameras, Hamilton 'almost came a cropper behind the Safety Car on the 41st lap, just before the race was restarted.
'He was following safety car driver Bernd Maylander through the stadium section of the track. At the exit of the Sachskurve Hamilton backed off a little to create some space between his car and the Safety Car as the latter was naturally unable to negotiate the kink before the final two corners at the same speed as the F1 machinery,' the newspaper reports.
'Hamilton then put his foot down again and accelerated just as Maylander slowed down - and eyewitnesses report that Lewis just managed to avoid impact with the rear end of the Mercedes-Benz. It was very close indeed, and those same witnesses report that there were literally only inches to spare.'
Hamilton has encountered difficulties behind the Safety Car before, most notably last October when his 'erratic' driving behind it during the Japanese GP was cited as the reason why Sebastian Vettel crashed into Mark Webber.
However, on Sunday in Hockenheim it was the Safety Car's instant eradication of the lead he had steadily built up over Massa that troubled the McLaren driver. "It is a rule they [the FIA] should have a look at," Hamilton mused before admitting that he couldn't think of a better solution in such circumstances.
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