Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 09:00 UK

Australian minister criticises Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton
British driver Hamilton won the world title in 2008

The roads minister of Victoria in Australia has used strong language to criticise Lewis Hamilton after his road car was impounded by Melbourne police.

Minister Tim Pallas made the comment on the day that Victoria launched a new road safety campaign.

The Formula 1 racing driver, who was arrested on Friday, is expected to be charged with improper use of a vehicle.

Mr Hamilton, who was in the country for the Australian Grand Prix, has apologised for his "over-exuberance".

'Nanny state'

Mr Pallas criticised the 25-year-old British racing driver on the day that Victoria launched a Don't Be a Dickhead road safety campaign.

Asked whether Lewis Hamilton met that description, he said: "OK, I'll say it. He's a dickhead."

But Australian driver Mark Webber has defended his fellow competitor, saying his homeland had become a nanny state, with ridiculous parking and speeding rules.

Hamilton was arrested hours after he recorded the quickest time in Friday's Australian Grand Prix practice.

His time of 1:26.801 was 0.25 seconds quicker than McLaren team-mate and current world champion Jenson Button.

As Hamilton drove away from the circuit to his team's hotel, police constable Scott Woodford said his rear wheels were skidding as he accelerated.

"Given that Melbourne's on the world stage with a lot of interstate and international visitors, we would expect drivers to observe road rules," he said.

A Victoria police spokesman said the Mercedes was seen to "deliberately lose traction".

McLaren's 2008 Formula 1 world champion admitted: "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."


Wayne Wilson, from Victoria Police, explained what had happened

'Wild side'

It is not the first time Hamilton's driving has put him in trouble with the police. In 2007, his car was impounded in France after he was caught speeding.

Earlier this month, Hamilton insisted there would be no "wild side" to his character emerging following his decision that his father Anthony should no longer manage his career.

"I don't think so," Hamilton remarked at the time. "I am who I am. I don't think anybody has stopped me from being who I wanted to be.

"When I arrived in the sport, I didn't go out and buy a million different cars, I took my time.

"Maybe I might buy one car this year, who knows. But that's not being wild.

"I've still got the same girl, I race for the same team and I've still the same dedication and determination."

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