Lewis Hamilton has been fined the equivalent of $445 at a court hearing in Melbourne for "hooning" (Australian slang for hooliganism at the wheel) at this year's Australian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was stopped by police on the Friday night of this year's Albert Park event after performing a burnout on his way out of the track. Although Hamilton was not present at the Melbourne hearing, he sent a letter to the legal authorities expressing his regret at what had happened and apologizing for the bad example he set.
In one of his letters, Hamilton said: "I very much regret my momentary lapse of judgment. I accepted responsibility to the officer who first questioned me and I confirmed that what I did was wrong. I apologized publicly at the time and I unhesitatingly repeat that apology to the Court now.
"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, particularly in relation to road safety matters. The publicity caused by this incident was immense, and that in itself has been a form of punishment for me."
Despite being fined for his actions and apologizing to the courts, Victorian state premier John Brumby has called for the 2008 World Champion to also make a public statement opposing such behavior.
"He is allowed to drive fast on the racetracks but he is not allowed to drive fast on our suburban streets," Brumby was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun newspaper. "He set a bad example and he has been punished for that. I hope that he will make a statement about this, saying he set a bad example that he shouldn't have been doing that and that he doesn't encourage anybody in our community to speed or hoon drive."