Istanbul: Lewis Hamilton told fellow-Briton Nigel Mansell to get his facts straight on Saturday after being branded ‘manufactured’ by the former Formula One world champion.
Speaking to an audience at Britain’s Hay literary festival on Friday, Mansell suggested the McLaren driver had enjoyed an easy path to the sport after securing backing from McLaren at an early age.
“People have said to me ‘what do I think of Lewis Hamilton?’ and I’ve said ‘Well it’s fantastic what he’s achieved but he’s been manufactured’,” the 1992 champion, who had to fund his own way into racing, was quoted as saying.
“How many people from seven years of age have been given two and a half million (pounds) to go karting?”
Hamilton, questioned about the comments after qualifying on the front row at the Turkish Grand Prix, was visibly taken aback.
“Wow,” gasped the 25-year-old, who became Formula One’s youngest champion in 2008. “Clearly he has not been reading the right stories or he just has not got his facts right.
“I wasn’t signed up until I was 13, so I would love to see where the rest of that money was since I was seven.
“I just think he is clearly ill-informed and doesn’t have the right information,” added the Briton.
“He has his right to his own opinion, which doesn’t really bother me. I don’t really care about his opinion.
“He is a world champion, he was a great star and I look up to him, but I wouldn’t have expected that from him.”
Hamilton, who will be chasing his first win of the season on Sunday, made a sensational debut in the sport in 2007 after being brought up through the junior categories by McLaren.
The first black world champion, he emerged from a family with no motor racing pedigree, His parents divorced when he was two, the father holding down multiple jobs to keep the family afloat while his mother worked in a care home.
His grandfather emigrated from the West Indies and worked on the London Underground system.
“I don’t know how he (Mansell) was funded when he was younger, but for us it was virtually impossible to find money. It got more and more expensive,” said Hamilton.
“My parents paid all the way until I was 13, by re-mortgaging the house. They were broke.”