Lewis Hamilton insists he never meant to disrespect Michael Schumacher during comments he made ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, when he was asked to compare his titles to the German’s.
“I’ve never done things like [Schumacher] in order to win the championship. I’ve only won thanks to my natural abilities,” he said during an interview.
Hamilton is likely referring to Schumacher’s preferential status within Ferrari, the teams rumoured favouritism with tyre supplier Bridgestone and questionable tactics employed by the seven-time champion.
His comments earned him scorn from Reiner Ferling, the president of Schumacher’s fan club, who said: “Hamilton should probably switch on his brain before he talks.
“He should learn about what Michael achieved. I just say, pride comes before a fall.”
However the Briton later issued an apology of sorts, admitting he never meant to disrespect Schumacher, his family or his achievements.
“To all the Michael Schumacher fans, I want you to know how big a fan and admirer of Michael I am. I grew up watching him from the early days through to his seventh title,” he wrote on Instagram.
“He was and is the greatest of our time and I am hugely proud and grateful to have met him and spent even the littlest time with. He was always kind to me.
“One day at his last race, I managed to find the courage to go see him and ask if he would honour me by swapping helmets in which he so graciously did.
“Please do not believe all that you read. I would never wish to disrespect him nor his family and I hold them in the highest regard.
“I keep him in my prayers as a fellow driver wishing for his recovery. Best wishes to you.”