The race card
The 2011 season wasn’t kind to Hamilton, who endured a mixed bag of results with a difficult McLaren. After a tough Monaco GP in which he collided with both Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado – incurring two penalties – Hamilton was asked by the BBC’s Lee McKenzie why he’d become a bit of a magnet for the stewards in recent races. “Maybe it’s because I’m black… that’s what Ali G would say, right?” he answered. Safe to say the flippant comment, which went viral on both social and print media, didn’t go down well post-race, and Hamilton issued a full apology and had to explain his actions to the race stewards. “I was trying to be funny… but it wasn’t funny,” he said.
Hamilton’s first widespread social media faux pas occurred in 2012 when he was put in the shade during Belgian GP qualifying by McLaren team-mate Jenson Button. While Button was on pole, Hamilton was just eighth and reacted by tweeting a shot of the telemetry trace of both drivers’ laps, showing where he was losing time. The post angered the team management and engineers, who roundly demanded he delete it immediately. Which he did.
Look, no hands
The curse of Instagram strikes as Hamilton posted a selfie apparently taken while riding a motorbike on a public road in Auckland in 2016. The post prompted a full police investigation due to it being illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving in New Zealand. The case was eventually dropped due to “lack of sufficient evidence”.
Hamilton attracted unwanted attention from animal rights group PETA in 2016 by sharing images of himself cuddling up to tigers and Jaguars at the Black Jaguar-White Tiger Foundation in Mexico. The images showed him holding a tiger and face-to-face with a Jaguar, plus a Snapchat video of a Jaguar lying on top of him. PETA issued a statement saying the big cats “were used for photo ops” and suggesting the animals were drugged. It finished with the line stating a mauling from one of the animals would be “more foolish than tangling with Nico Rosberg.” PETA later awarded Hamilton its 2018 ‘Person of the Year Award’ for becoming a high-profile vegan…
During the 2017 Christmas break, Hamilton posted what was intended to be a fun video onto his Instagram showing him spending time with his nephew. Sadly it involved him telling the child, who was in fancy dress, that “Boys don’t wear princess dresses”. It drew widespread criticism forcing Hamilton to issue a public apology.
Not so much a gaffe, more tone deaf. In 2018 Hamilton posted a well-intentioned video on Instagram showing himself clearing a pile of plastic rubbish from a beach in an undetermined tropical location. While many applauded Hamilton’s efforts in calling for action against plastic pollution, it also prompted many to point out the irony of somebody running a private jet and burning petrol shouting so loudly about the environment.
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V-E-V Miscellany, October 1970, October 1970
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