Lewis Hamilton has assured Lando Norris that his claim Formula One should be a man’s sport was not aimed at the British teenager.
Rookie Norris, 19, took umbrage with his compatriot’s remarks on the eve of Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, believing them to be a jibe directed at him, and his fellow British novice George Russell, 21.
But in a post to Instagram, the five-time world champion moved to diffuse his spat with Norris, insisting the McLaren driver is delivering the goods in his maiden campaign.
“Honestly not targeting anyone, and definitely not you (Norris),” said Hamilton, who later deleted the post.
“It’s a wider point I am speaking of. You are doing a great job. I wasn’t a teenager when I got here.”
Hamilton, 34, and now in his 13th season, is gearing up for the seventh round of his championship defence at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
The Mercedes star, who holds a 17-point title lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas, has been in a buoyant mood this weekend.
Speaking at length about leaving a lasting legacy on the sport by improving diversity, and patching up his relationship with father Anthony, Hamilton declared he is now in the best place he has been in his life.
In an interview with David Letterman, which recently aired on Netflix, Anthony said he was left heartbroken when his son dropped him as his manager in 2010. He also revealed that they did not speak to each other for two years.
Yet, nearly a decade on, the hatchet has seemingly been buried. Before flying out to New York en route to Montreal, Hamilton dined in London with his father, step-mother Linda, and brother Nic to celebrate Anthony’s 63rd birthday.
“Our relationship is fantastic now,” said Hamilton.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t always great but that happens with families. Sometimes it just takes time apart for people to re-build and grow.
“As you get older, you realise how precious time is. I’ve got friends who don’t have their dads any longer, and some who have not spoken to their dads for 25 to 30 years.
“I never ever want that to happen. My dad’s someone who I think is the greatest man I know and someone I aspire to be a lot like. I want him to be around for a long time.
“Not every day is easy, and you still come across humps in your life. But every year I’m gaining new tools to be able to handle and deal with that.
“I’m definitely in the best place I’ve ever been.” Hamilton is this season primed to win his sixth world championship and move to within one title of Michael Schumacher’s record haul.
Mercedes have dominated the campaign so far, finishing first and second at all but one of the opening six rounds.
Here, Hamilton, who is also bidding to emulate Schumacher with a record-equalling seventh win in Montreal, has been boosted by a new engine.
In opening practice, the Mercedes cars finished comfortably clear of anyone else.
Hamilton ended the first running 0.147 seconds clear of Bottas, the Finn who is set to be his closest championship contender.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third, nearly a second behind the Mercedes cars, while Sebastian Vettel, who has already been cast 55 points adrift of Hamilton, finished fifth, 1.1secs off the pace.