Lewis Hamilton has apologized to the FIA stewards and to his fans for what he has called a “huge mistake” in how he handled post-race events at the Australian Grand Prix.
The Briton was disqualified from the Melbourne race after the stewards deemed he and his McLaren team had 'deliberately misled' them about a radio conversation that took place after he had got past Toyota driver Jarno Trulli behind the safety car.
Hamilton says he was advised by McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan not to mention that he had been ordered to let Trulli overtake him. McLaren confirmed this, with team director Martin Whitmarsh announcing that Ryan has been suspended by the team.
Clearly emotional about his involvement in the events, Hamilton called a press conference in the media center at Sepang on Friday to apologize for all that happened.
"In Melbourne, I had a great race. As soon as I got out the car I had the television interviews at the back of the garage, and straight away I gave them a good account of what happened during the race," said Hamilton.
"Straight after that we were requested by the stewards, and while waiting for the stewards I was instructed and misled by my team manager to withhold information, and that is what I did.
"I sincerely apologize to the stewards for wasting their time and for making them look silly. I am very, very sorry for the situation: for my team, for Dave because he has been a good member of the team for many years, and whilst I don't think it was his intention or...he is a good guy.
"I went into the meeting, I had no intention of...I just wanted to tell the story and say what happened. I was misled and that is the way it went. I would like to say a big sorry to all my fans who have believed in me, who have supported me for years, who I showed who I am for the past three years, and it is who I am. I am not a liar. I am not a dishonest person. I am a team player.
"Every time I have been informed to do something I have done it. This time I realize it was a huge mistake and I am learning from it. It has taken a huge toll on me. I apologize to you guys, I didn't speak to you yesterday, but there was a lot to take in and a lot to deal with. I am here to apologize to everyone and I assure you it won't happen again."
Hamilton, who received applause by a number of journalists at the end of the short press conference, said that only he and Ryan had been involved in the decision to withhold information from the FIA.
The world champion reckoned the situation he found himself in now was the worst he had faced in his career.
"I've never felt so bad," he said. "Try and put yourself in my position and understand that, like I said, I am not a liar. I have not gone through my life being a liar or dishonest. And so for people to say I am dishonest and for the world to think that....what can I say?
He added: "For me, the situation is definitely the worst thing I've experienced in my life. That is why I am here. It is right for me as a human being and as a man to stand in front of you all and tell you exactly what went on and put up my hands. I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I'm sorry to my team and my family for the embarrassment. It is a very, very embarrassing situation."
When asked if he was concerned about the possibility of further action being taken against him and McLaren by the FIA, he said: "I am sure the FIA will act accordingly and in the right way. I don't know what else is going to happen in the future. For me now, I have to focus on the race and try to move forward from this, learn from it and grow."