Lewis Hamilton might just be feeling that he never wants to hear about the Australian Grand Prix again at the moment.
The McLaren driver, who topped the timesheets in today’s practice sessions, has been charged with improper driving and has had his silver Mercedes impounded for 48 hours under laws designed to curb boy racers – or ‘hoons’ in local parlance.
Victoria police have confirmed to local media that a 25-year-old British citizen and resident of Switzerland would be facing a summons.
They said a silver Mercedes had been impounded after its driver performed burnouts and a fishtail in the Lakeside Drive area of Melbourne and was pulled over by police. The incident happened at around 9pm local time.
In an unpleasant coincidence, the well-known Australian restauranteur Rocco Pantaleo, co-founder of the La Porchetta restaurant group, had been killed in a motorcycle accident in the area roughly 10 hours before. He was thought to be visiting the Grand Prix since he was carrying tickets.
McLaren have since issued a statement in Hamilton’s name. It reads: “This evening, I was driving in an over-exuberant manner and, as a result, was stopped by the police. What I did was silly, and I want to apologise for it.”
Of course, this is not the first time he has been in bother either in Melbourne or in a tasty Merc.
In December 2007 Hamilton was pulled over after being spotted doing 196 kilometres per hour in a Mercedes Benz CLK by police on a motorway near the northern town of Laon, between Calais and Reims in France.
And last year’s Australian Grand Prix haunted him for months after an incident in the steward’s room became a full-scale lying scandal that put a huge dent in his squeaky-clean image.
He’s said to be embarrassed by this new incident and worried it will damage his reputation. However one might argue that – provided no-one was endangered – it’s refreshing to see the corporate mask slip a little from time to time.