Hamilton hit with India grid penalty

    McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was Formula One world champion in 2008, but has won only two races this year.

    Story highlights

    • Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez handed three-place grid penalties at Indian Grand Prix
    • Hamilton and Perez failed to notice double yellow flags at Buddh International Circuit
    • Ferrari's Felipe Massa set the fastest time, narrowly edging out Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel
    • Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt over the future of the Korean Grand Prix
    McLaren's Lewis Hamilton has been hit with a three-place grid penalty for ignoring a safety flag in Friday practice ahead of Sunday's inaugural Indian Grand Prix.
    Sauber driver Sergio Perez was handed the same sanction after race stewards said the duo failed to notice "double waved yellow flags" at the end of the day's opening session, in which 2008 world champion Hamilton had set the fastest time.
    The flags were waved after Williams' Pastor Maldonado experienced engine failure at turn 16 of the newly-opened Buddh International Circuit, with the penalty proving the latest setback in a season which has seen Hamilton win just two races.
    Ferrari's Felipe Massa led the field with a lap of one minute 25.706 seconds, 0.088 secs ahead of Red Bull's double world champion Sebastian Vettel.
    Massa's Spanish teammate and two-time drivers' champion Fernando Alonso was third fastest, with Hamilton, 26, eventually having to settle for fourth.
    Vettel's fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber was fifth fastest at the New Delhi track, ahead of Hamilton's British compatriot and 2009 title winner Jenson Button.
    Renault's Vitaly Petrov, the only Russian driver in the sport, finished practice in 11th, but has been handed a five-place grid penalty for a collision with seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher at the Korean Grand Prix two weeks ago.
    Meanwhile, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt over the future of the race in Korea after it emerged the event organizers were seeking a reduction in the hosting fee.
    It was announced Tuesday a race will be held in New Jersey from 2013 onwards, with a further grand prix in the U.S. to be held in Austin, Texas from next season. Russia is also set to make its F1 bow in 2014.
    Current regulations limit the maximum number of rounds in an F1 season to 20, with Korea, which has a deal to host a race until 2016, earmarked as a venue which could potentially make way.
    "There are lots of things in life you can't afford, and you don't have to have them," Ecclestone was reported to have said in British newspaper the Daily Telegraph. "And it took us long enough to negotiate with them in the first place.
    "It was strange. They didn't really get behind it. That was a disappointment because it was a big enough effort to get it on in the first place."