Lewis Hamilton apologizes for joking insinuation of racism after Monaco GP penalty

Lewis Hamilton may be best known for his racing, but in the wake of a controversial performance at the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend, it was another race card he played altogether.

The young Brit was called in to speak with the race stewards regarding an incident with Williams rookie Pastor Maldonado. Towards the end of the grand prix, Hamilton collided with Maldonado and the latter was taken out of the race. The stewards deemed Hamilton at fault and handed him a 20-second time penalty (the post-race equivalent to a drive-through), though with Adrian Sutil finishing far behind him a lap down, the penalty affects neither Hamilton's sixth-place finish nor his position in the championship standings.

Speaking with the BBC after the stewards' decision, the McLaren driver jokingly channeled Sacha Baron Cohen's character Ali G and mused that the stewards were picking on him because he's black. Realizing the joke could be misconstrued and taken seriously, Hamilton doubled back and apologized to the stewards for his remarks.

The Maldonado incident was one of several that marred Hamilton's performance this weekend. After being docked several positions on the starting grid due to an illegal qualifying maneuver, Hamilton started in ninth place. Around halfway through the race, he tried to overtake longtime rival, Felipe Massa, but ended up colliding with the Ferrari that crashed out mere seconds later. The stewards had faulted a frustrated Hamilton for that incident as well and handed him a mid-race drive-through penalty.

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