McLaren driver Lando Norris sparked criticism from some F1 fans in October after he downplayed Sir Lewis Hamilton’s success with Mercedes.
Specifically, when asked for his thoughts on Hamilton breaking Michael Schumacher’s grand prix win record at the Portuguese Grand Prix, Norris said:
“I’m just happy for him, nothing more. It doesn’t mean anything to me, really. He’s in a car which should win every race, basically.
“He has to beat one or two other drivers, that’s it. Fair play to him, he’s still doing the job he has to do,” he added.
He subsequently posted an apology on Twitter, saying:
“I owe an apology. I’ve been stupid and careless with some things I’ve said lately in media and interviews, and haven’t shown the respect I should have to certain people.
“I’m not that kind of person, so know I should apologise to them but also everyone reading/listening. Sorry,” Norris added.
Lando Norris has now opened up on the remarks he made and the criticism he faced, saying he believes if a driver like Kimi Raikkonen made the exact same comments, there would have been a very different reaction.
“I think if Kimi had said it, people would have loved it,” Norris said this week.
“There’s nothing you can do about that, that’s just how people portray you. I guess I’ve come in and I have been the jokey guy and perhaps not as serious as I should have been, and I feel like I’ve done a better job with that.
“But I guess people have just never seen the bad side of me, or the angry side of me, and then when I have shown that, people just think I’m acting out in a bad way and I’m disrespecting everyone, which I’m not.
“You have other drivers who say these kind of things a lot of the time, and just because they’ve always said it, people just find that normal and then that’s just the way it is.
“A bit of the reason is I’ve generally been seen as a bit of a nice guy and so on, and then I say something a bit more aggressive or offensive in some ways, and people just see that as a contrasted side of myself.
“That’s just the way it is. It’s not something I can just change, it’s just people’s perceptions of different people.”
He also described the backlash as “tricky” to deal with and said “there’s no-one I probably respect more in the paddock than Lewis and what he’s done.”