Vijay Pattni09 October 2010

Hamilton crashes in first practice...

...while heavy rain forces race stewards to postpone qualifying until tomorrow

Lewis Hamilton crashed during the first practice session of the Japanese Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver - and championship contender - locked up his front right wheel heading into a right-hander at the Suzuka circuit, before smashing into the tyre wall and shredding his front left wheel.

As you can see from the footage below, the damage was quite extensive. Hamilton's McLaren needed a new gearbox, floor, and front and rear wings. The repairs took so long he was only able to complete four timed laps.

Later, Hamilton admitted he was "probably pushing too hard", although teammate and championship rival Jenson Button nearly suffered at exactly the same corner.

But his chances of correcting his mistake have been put on hold as heavy rain meant it was impossible to run Saturday's qualifying session at the 3.608 mile circuit.

Despite two half-hour delays in an attempt to let conditions improve after persistent rain blighted the programme, race stewards finally decided to postpone the session until Sunday morning.

The McLaren driver later confessed "I was aquaplaning all the time - I couldn't get to full throttle. I couldn't even use half-throttle!"

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said "In such circumstances, it's neither safe nor sensible to consider driving a F1 car in anger".

Suzuka suffered a similiar fate in 2004 when a passing typhoon pushed qualifying onto Sunday's race-day programme. Tomorrow's qualifying session is expected to start at 10am local time, with the race starting just four hours later.

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