The new FIA president caused a stir when quotes he gave in a recent interview where interpreted as being critical of drivers such as Hamilton and fellow multiple-time world champion Sebastian Vettel for their outspoken stance on social issues.

In a statement issued on social media on Thursday, Ben Sulayem clarified some of his comments and stressed he has “always believed in sport as a catalyst oof progress in society”. 

Asked what he made of Ben Sulayem’s statement, Hamilton said: “I only heard about it this morning. I’ve not read it, so I don’t really know what has been said. 

“I’m also aware that sometimes things I’ve said have been taken out of context, so maybe that has happened. But I heard he has clarified things on social media which is positive. 

“That doesn’t stop us doing what we are doing. The sport is continuously growing. We have a bigger audience than ever before, I think it has gone up 9% or something like that. 

“And it continues to be an important platform for us to use our voices, every single one of us here within the industry, within our companies, to do more, to speak out more on things and to spark more conversations. 

“I’m really pride with what we are doing at Mercedes with our pride month star on the car, which is the first time I’ve seen that during my time at Mercedes. 

“We have over 100,000 people within Mercedes-Benz and creating a more inclusive environment is so important. Creating better diversity within our organisation but also it’s so important within our sport. 

“It’s moving at a very slow pace and we need more people to utilise that platform, so I encourage all the drivers to be more outspoken in future and speak out on things they care about. 

“I’m proud of what Seb does and to be an ally of his.” 

Hamilton’s ‘surreal’ Brazil honorary citizenship 

The seven-time world champion has officially been named an honorary citizen of Brazil after a bill was passed in Brazilian parliament on Thursday.

Hamilton, whose boyhood F1 idol was three-time world champion Ayrton Senna, described being granted Brazilian citizenship as “very surreal” and a “huge honour”. 

“Brazil has always been a place that I’ve loved and admired since a kid,” he said. “Obviously following Ayrton, you are naturally drawn to the country. 

“Through my life, just meeting more and more Brazilians and learning more about the culture and the community, it’s very, very diverse there. A lot of music and colour and I’ve had so many amazing times there. 

“I obviously won my first championship there and then 14 years later or whatever it was, to have that epic race there last year and the moment with the Brazilian flag. 

“My biggest following is in Brazil, so I’m very honoured and very grateful and can’t wait to spend more time there.” 

Hamilton not planning to be in F1 movie 

Hamilton also confirmed he will be the producer for a new Hollywood film about F1 that will star Brad Pitt. 

“I can’t really say too much about it because I don’t know if it’s been properly announced yet,” he said. 

“But it’s something we are working on in the background, a super exciting project and a long-time in the waiting." 

While Hamilton revealed he doesn’t plan to make a cameo appearance in the Apple-produced movie, he said his primary focus is helping to ensure the film does the sport justice. 

“It’s a really cool project and we’re already working on the script. I’m very much involved in the script, which is fun, and spending good time with Brad, which is pretty epic,” Hamilton added. 

“My responsibility and something that I take on is just really making sure that the cast and the crew in the background is diverse. That’s something I really highlighted at the beginning. 

“If you look at all the racing movies, you can’t necessarily say that they’ve all been spectacular and that’s something we want to change. 

“It’s really about showing how great this sport really is to people that maybe have never watched it, but also make sure that we keep the real heritage and the true racing spirit within the movie and the script, and that’s really my role.”