By Alex Kapadia
Formula One racing ace Lewis Hamilton has been fined £300 for spinning and burning his tyres in a Melbourne street hours ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
The former world champion was even described as a ‘hoon’ – a loutish boy racer – by an Aussie magistrate Clive Alsop.
Hamilton pleaded guilty in his absence to performing a ‘burnout’ as he left the Australian Grand Prix circuit in a private car before the official race got under way.
He was caught by police executing a ‘burnout’ and ‘fishtail’ – tricks in which wheels are intentionally spun and skidded – in front of fans.
Mr Alsop said that Hamilton had abused his position of authority and influence. He said: “This isn’t about somebody’s character – this is about somebody in a responsible position behaving like a hoon.
“It doesn’t show the general application of the level of responsibility and maturity that he must use very day on the race track.”
Hamilton was not able to attend the court because of his international racing duties, but the 25-year-old driver said in a letter that he regretted his ‘momentary lapse of judgment’ in his borrowed £90,000 C-class Mercedes on the night of the burnout, March 26, this year.
Hamilton is due to compete in the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend and wrote twice to the court to explain his absence.
In a summons served on his Australian solicitor, Hamilton was charged with intentionally causing his wheels to lose traction.
‘I fully accept that I am a public figure and I consider that I have a duty to act as a role model to youngsters, particular in relation to road safety matters,’ he said in his letter.
‘The publicity caused by this incident was immense and that in itself has been a form of punishment for me.
‘I have found this very upsetting because I am passionate about road safety and I do voluntarily carry out activities to promote international road safety, particularly amongst young adults. I made a mistake in Melbourne, which I sincerely regret.’