LEWIS HAMILTON was on Friday night charged by local police after he was caught doing burnouts and 'fish-tailing' in a Mercedes road car near the Albert Park circuit.
At 9.15pm in St Kilda, within sight of the turn 13 section of the Formula One circuit, the 2008 world champion was pulled over by a Victoria Police divisional van.
It was reported earlier on Friday that the 25-year-old McLaren driver's company car this weekend is a silver 2010 E500 saloon.
Police charged Hamilton, who will be summonsed, with improper use of a motor vehicle and have impounded the car for 48 hours. Police confirmed that a 25-year-old Briton has been charged.
Senior Constable Scott Woodford said Hamilton was "extremely cooperative" and "disappointed" with the incident. Wire reports said Hamilton was "visibly upset" and "worried this would dent his reputation".
The incident coincides with a push within F1 for better road safety, with all teams contributing to the FIA's global campaign.
In a statement issued by McLaren, Hamilton said: "This evening, I was driving in an over-exuberant manner and, as a result, was stopped by the police.
"What I did was silly, and I want to apologise for it."
Ecclestone Excepts Long Second Career For Schumacher
Bernie Ecclestone does not expect Michael Schumacher to re-enter retirement at the end of his new three-year Mercedes contract.
After spending the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons on the sidelines in the wake of his ultra-successful first career, the 41-year-old decided to return to the sport this season.
He has signed a three-year deal, and the German indicated in Melbourne on Thursday that he will return to his retirement when that period is over.
When explaining why he has not rejoined the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, Schumacher said: "I'm not here for the long-term future, only for a limited time, (so) I don't think I should get involved."
But Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, thinks Schumacher will change his mind.
"I think his new career will be long, maybe even ten years," said the 79-year-old Briton in an interview with Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport.
Mercedes test driver Nick Heidfeld told the German newspaper AZ that he thinks Schumacher will continue to improve his pace over the next few races.
"Michael got better during the Bahrain weekend, and he will continue to get better from now on," said the German.
Friday F1 News Briefs From Melbourne
Mar.26 (GMM) It was meant to be a demonstration of the sporting prowess of the Clio 200, but Renault's Robert Kubica burned out the road car's clutch on Thursday at Sandown racetrack in outer Melbourne. Luckily, a (albeit unbranded) spare car was on standby, as the Polish driver admitted he is not used to driving a manual gearbox.
The pitlane speed limit for qualifying and the race has been reduced from 100kph to just 60kph in Melbourne.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has admitted he has to watch what he says now that Michael Schumacher is his F1 teammate. "I can't afford bad headlines against one of the best of all time who has a huge following," said the 24-year-old. But as for actually sharing a garage with the great 41-year-old, Rosberg added: "I'd heard so many bad things about being his teammate, but it's been really good until now."
Williams tried a 'shark fin' engine cover during initial practice in Melbourne on Friday afternoon, while Rubens Barrichello wore a tweaked blue and white helmet livery.
Asked whether he was happy to watch first practice while test driver Paul di Resta drove his Force India, Adrian Sutil answered: "No, not happy, but it's the team's decision."
Despite earlier estimates of his 2010 salary at EUR7m, Germany's Bild newspaper said Michael Schumacher's actual EUR25m income this year makes him the highest earner in pitlane. Sebastian Vettel, who recently moved into a new farm in Switzerland, comes in with 12m, with Fernando Alonso earning 18m with Ferrari this year. Vettel's teammate Mark Webber makes 7m, much less than Lewis Hamilton at 16m. Reigning world champion Jenson Button earns 3.5m less than his McLaren teammate, and Nico Rosberg's deficit to Schumacher is a staggering 19 million, the newspaper said. Nearer the bottom of the list, Adrian Sutil is on 1.7m, and fellow German Nico Hulkenberg is making 1m in his rookie season. The figures include personal sponsorships.
Among the reasons for Michael Schumacher's struggle in Bahrain two weeks ago was an ill-fitting seat. The German and his Mercedes technicians were working on tweaks in the Albert Park paddock on Thursday, and he is said to have been much more comfortable in Melbourne practice, despite the continuing lap time deficit to his teammate Nico Rosberg.
Schumacher was spotted eating in the Ferrari catering area earlier this week at Albert Park, as Fernando Alonso walked past to pull a bottle of water from the fridge. "I have the impression that our kitchen is better than theirs (at Mercedes)," the Spaniard said.
Despite Sauber struggling with crumbling front wings in first Friday practice in Melbourne, the Swiss team did run its new McLaren-style air inlet system. "We will probably use (race) it," said technical boss Willy Rampf to the German newspaper Blick.