A remorseful Lewis Hamilton issued a private apology to FIA race director Charlie Whiting after he was caught lying to stewards.
Whiting has offered an insight into the events that will now see McLaren face the World Motor Sport Council in Paris later this month to answer a charge of bringing the sport into disrepute.
Whiting claims he sensed Hamilton was lying to stewards presiding over the Australian Grand Prix as they tried to ascertain whether or not he had allowed Toyota’s Jarno Trulli to pass him behind the safety car.
Four days later in Sepang, in the wake of fresh evidence emerging that snared Hamilton and McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan, the world champion later humbly apologised to Whiting.
Hamilton then offered a public apology during an emotional press conference in front of the media at the circuit.
Speaking to Autosport, Whiting said: “I was distinctly uncomfortable about Lewis’ demeanour on Sunday (in Australia). It was completely clear he was telling lies.
“On Thursday (in Malaysia) I would say he was just doing what he was told to do.
“The fact he came and apologised to me in Sepang sums it up pretty much.
“He came to me and wanted to talk to me privately, and just said he wanted to apologise for everything he’d done, and he wouldn’t do it again, that sort of thing.”
In Malaysia, Hamilton and Ryan were presented with damning evidence – namely radio transmissions and an interview the 24-year-old gave immediately after the race – that made clear he was told by the team to allow Trulli by.
Regardless, Hamilton and Ryan foolishly continued in their attempt to mislead the stewards, with the former evasive with his answers to questions from Whiting.
“We got into a little bit more detail of what happened when Trulli passed Lewis,” added Whiting.
“Lewis did his best to fudge it, I would say, without responding completely and directly.
“I reminded him that I had asked him twice in Melbourne, ’Did you consciously let him (Trulli) past?’ And he’d said no, Trulli had just passed him.
“I then said when the team asked you to let him past, you said ’I’ve already let him past’.
“I said to him if you had been surprised by that, surely you would have said, ’He’s passed me!’ instead of ’I’ve let him past’.
“Lewis didn’t really have an answer for that. They were trying very hard to get off the important bit of the subject, and trying to divert the stewards’ attention elsewhere.
“That’s the impression I got anyway.”
McLaren have since sacked Ryan, which could leave Hamilton on his own in answering questions come the World Council hearing.
As Ryan is no longer an employee of McLaren, he is not compelled to attend or give evidence if he is unwilling to do so.
The team face five charges of what is tantamount to fraud under the FIA’s International Sporting Code, and although a heavy fine is the most likely outcome, they could be suspended from races or expelled from the championship.