Lewis Hamilton has been invited to attend a Stevenage football game to show support to his home town after controversial comments he made about it last week.
Hamilton has apologised for a statement he made during the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award show, where he said: “It was really a dream for us all, as a family, to do something different, to kind of, for us, to get out of the slums … well that’s what we would say, it was not the slums. But just come out from somewhere and do something.”
The comment drew condemnation from the local council and a wide range of people on social media. As well as retracting the statement at the time, Hamilton also posted an apology to Instagram on Tuesday to say he was “incredibly proud of to come from [Stevenage] and still love to this day”.
He added: “Please, if you have any feelings about a mistake that I made on stage, don’t bother with it, throw it to the side — it’s negative energy you don’t need to hold.”
Stevanage’s football team play in League Two, the fourth tier of the English league. The club has a tweet pinned to the top of its official Twitter page of a montage showing game action and the surrounding area around the stadium, with the caption: “The slums have never looked so good”.
The slums have never looked so good…
— Stevenage FC 🔴⚪ (@StevenageFC) December 17, 2018
The team’s manager, Dino Maamria, thinks Hamilton misspoke at the awards ceremony but thinks he should apologise in person at the team’s stadium.
“It was just the wrong choice of words I think,” Maamria said on Friday. “He would have known that and he apologised for it. He’s proud of where he came from and his journey — he’s come from a humble family and he’s gone all of the way to the very top. We should be proud of him.
“He’s a friend of my family, their family is friends with my wife’s family. It’s out of character for him to say that. If he can come to the Lamex Stadium for one of the games, that would be fantastic. If he wants to really say sorry about it, he should come to support us at one of the games and I invite him personally.”
Hamilton is Britain’s most successful F1 driver, claiming his fifth world championship this season, making him one of only three men to do so. He is two titles shy of matching Michael Schumacher’s all-time record, while he is also closing in on the German driver’s tally of 91 career victories.
Hamilton is yet to respond to the invite.