He might have the threat of disciplinary action hanging over his head in the wake of his astonishing post-race outburst in Monaco on Sunday, but as he again apologised to his fellow competitors and to his fans for his ill-conceived comments, a defiant Lewis Hamilton has urged: “I will never stop racing the way I do.”
Always one of the more talked-about drivers in F1, Hamilton is the paddock's hottest potato bar none at the moment, after he lambasted the decisions made by FIA stewards as 'an absolute frickin' joke', denigrated some of his rivals as 'frickin' ridiculous' and 'stupid' and – in mock Ali G tones – jokingly suggested that the reason he is seemingly constantly on the receiving end of penalties this season is 'maybe because I'm black' [see separate story – click here
The extraordinary no-holds barred attack was sparked by a contentious Monaco Grand Prix during which the British star came into contact with no fewer than four other cars, and for his collisions with Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado – both of which resulted in the other driver being forced out of the race – Hamilton was penalised, on the first occasion with a drive-through penalty and on the second a retrospective drive-through.
That added to similar penalties for the McLaren-Mercedes ace earlier this year in Malaysia – for weaving too vigorously in defence of his position against former team-mate Fernando Alonso – for failing to slow down for yellow flags in Barcelona and then following qualifying in Monte Carlo for having cut a chicane on his sole flying lap in Q3.
Hamilton's plea that Massa had held him up earlier on in qualifying fell upon deaf ears, and his post-race persecution complex was undoubtedly a product of that combination of factors, though his poorly-judged quip that he was perhaps being singled out for victimisation due to his colour – for which he has since 'been to the stewards to make peace' [see separate story – click here
] – was ill-received in the extreme. He has subsequently apologised to his fans via social networking site Twitter
“Hey guys. I wanted to apologise 4 last weekends performance & also my comments after, I never meant to offend no1,” he wrote. “I would also like to say thank u 2 everyone on here, 4 their positive messages & also 2 the angry messages. I can respect them both.
“2 Massa & Maldonado, with the greatest respect I apologise if I offended u. Both of u r fantastic drivers who I regard highly. 2 my fans lost & my fans won, I wish u nothing but love & happiness. God Bless u. Onwards & upwards, Montreal next. Lewis.”
Hamilton's contrition has ostensibly done much to reassure his supporters who have rallied round him, but it remains to be seen whether it will similarly convince the FIA not to impose further sanctions upon him – something that it has been mooted could occur should F1's governing body deem that the 2008 world champion's outspoken remarks have brought the sport into disrepute.
An FIA spokesman told Telegraph Sport
that it was 'gathering all the relevant information', but still refusing to accept that he was to blame for the incidents with Massa and Maldonado in Monaco, Hamilton has now warned that he will not be prepared to moderate his famously aggressive driving style merely to appease his adversaries and the powers-that-be – and that should he continue to be punished for having a go, then he will be left with no choice but to simply walk away.
“The passion is just even greater than elsewhere,” the 26-year-old is quoted as having said by the Daily Mail
, trying to explain his uncompromising performance in Monte Carlo and insisting that he will have 'at least another ten opportunities' to triumph around the glamorous Principality's tortuous streets. “In my heart of hearts, I believe I can own this circuit. I feel like I can be the fastest here. I was, and not with the fastest car.
“In all honesty, I will never stop racing the way I do. It's the way I do it. That's what got me here; it is the way I am. I don't do it to offend people or to hurt anyone. I do it because I love racing. I feel like I can do it better than others.
“I am here to race and win. If I have to lose that passion, it would blow all the racing. If it ever comes to a stage where I had to pull back, drive for fourth or fifth place and just cruise around, it would not excite me and I probably wouldn't stay around for that.
“At the end of the day, this is motorsport and we are supposed to see racing. Not many people overtake in Monaco, and I tried to do that. Unfortunately, collisions caused me to have some penalties. I will recover from this weekend, [hopefully with] a win in Canada. It is a big gap [to pace-setter Sebastian Vettel in the world championship standings], but anything can happen.”