Lewis Hamilton privately apologized to FIA race director Charlie Whiting in Malaysia for having lied to stewards amid the controversy now engulfing his McLaren team, AUTOSPORT can reveal.
It has emerged that Hamilton felt remorse for how he behaved prior to his emotional press conference at Sepang on Friday.
Whiting, who was present in both hearings that debated whether or not Hamilton had let Jarno Trulli past behind the safety car in Australia, has told AUTOSPORT that he had noticed a change in the World Champion's behavior in the two meetings.
"I was distinctly uncomfortable about Lewis's demeanor on Sunday [in Australia], and on Thursday [in Malaysia] I would say he was just doing what he was told to do," said Whiting. "On Sunday, it was completely clear that he was telling lies.
"The fact that he came and apologized to me in Sepang sums it up pretty much. He came to me and wanted to talk to me privately, and just said he wanted to apologize for everything he'd done, and he wouldn't do it again, that sort of thing."
Whiting has also provided fresh insight into the behavior of Hamilton at the second hearing in Malaysia, which came four days after he admitted to having been "misled" by the team into lying.
"We got into a little bit more detail of what happened when Trulli passed Lewis. Lewis did his best to fudge it, I would say, without responding completely and directly," said Whiting.
"I reminded him that I had asked him twice in Melbourne, ‘Did you consciously let him past?' And he'd said no, Trulli had just passed him. I then said when the team asked you to let him past, you said, ‘I've already let him past.' I said to him if you had been surprised by that, surely you would have said, ‘he's passed me,' instead of, ‘I've let him past.'
"Lewis didn't really have an answer for that. They were trying very hard to get off the important bit of the subject, and trying to divert the stewards' attention elsewhere. That's the impression, I got anyway."
Whiting also said that he had never had any previous reason to question the behavior of McLaren's Dave Ryan prior to that hearing in Australia, where he and Hamilton lied about not having let Trulli past.
"I've always found Dave to be very easy guy to deal with," said Whiting, "I've never thought that he was lying to me. There's no reason for me to suppose that he's like that all the time. But I do believe that he attempted to mislead the stewards, I don't think there's any doubt about that in my mind."
McLaren has been summoned to appear before the FIA's World Motor Sport Council to explain its behavior, and could face sanctions for having brought the sport into disrepute.