LONDON • Mercedes' Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton apologised on Tuesday for making "inappropriate" comments on his nephew for wearing a princess dress, describing his behaviour as a "lapse of judgment".
He shared a Christmas Day video with his 5.7 million followers on Instagram showing the boy sporting a blue-and-pink dress and waving a pink heart-shaped furry wand.
"I'm so sad right now. Look at my nephew," the British driver said in the video which has been deleted.
He then asked a series of questions: "Why are you wearing a princess dress?
"Is this what you got for Christmas?"
When the boy said yes, Hamilton replied: "Why did you ask for a princess dress for Christmas?"
Finally, raising his voice, he said: "Boys don't wear princess dresses!" which led to the laughing youngster covering his ears with his hands.
Hamilton was criticised on social media, especially from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, for negatively stereotyping his nephew on the basis of his gender. Some noted that the 32-year-old is himself well known for his sense of style and should let his nephew express himself.
But others defended him, saying it was apparent from his tone that he was joking and that some people would take any chance to further their agenda by sexualising an "innocent" exchange.
Still, Hamilton was forced to backtrack on Boxing Day.
He tweeted: "Yesterday I was playing around with my nephew and realised that my words were inappropriate so I removed the post.
"I meant no harm and did not mean to offend anyone at all. I love that my nephew feels free to express himself as we all should.
"My deepest apologies for my behaviour as I realise it is really not acceptable for anyone, no matter where you are from, to marginalise or stereotype anyone.
"I have always been in support of anyone living their life exactly how they wish and I hope I can be forgiven for this lapse in judgment."
Before that, the four-time world champion's use of social media has caused various controversies - from saying "This s**t is killing me" on Snapchat during an F1 press conference in Japan in October last year, to taking selfies while riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in New Zealand before the start of the 2016 season .
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN