Lewis Hamilton has come into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons this season.
A leading British tabloid recently suggested that the Briton’s controversial move to Mercedes and his new found freedom has allowed the 28-year-old to be distracted from his priorities.
With mentions of his pop singer girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, his tryst with celebrities and rappers, several tattoos and his pet bulldog Roscoe, the piece indicated that the 2008 world champion was "in danger of wrecking his career".
But Hamilton slammed his critics who advocated that his lifestyle was the cause of his recent struggles on the track, where he has been comprehensively out-qualified by his teammate Nico Rosberg.
“Someone mentioned something about my dog. How the hell can a dog be distracting?” Hamilton asked. “I don’t really know how I could live my life any different. I’m enjoying my life, so if people have a got a problem with that then that’s their problem.”
Mercedes’ non-executive chairman and former three-time world champion supported Hamilton.
“He should be allowed his freedom to do what the fuck he likes,” Lauda was quoted saying by the Mirror. “If it makes him happy, he will be a better sportsman. As long as it's not the dog doing the driving, you have to leave him his freedom.
“He loves his dog – why? Because he gets something from it. It’s always there. It never complains, when you take it out it is happy. It never speaks against him. It does nothing wrong,” the Austrian argued.
Hamilton lost two positions from the starting grid to finish Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix in fourth place - while teammate Rosberg won the race from pole position - after a pit stop didn't go exactly as planned during the safety car period, which disadvantaged the Briton. He was unable to recover the places as overtaking is particularly difficult on the sinewy street circuit.
"It was my mistake,” confessed Hamilton. “I was told to have a six-second gap and I had a little more than six seconds and I lost out."
"Nobody is to blame for that, but me," he was quoted saying by AFP. "I have to go away and make sure I raise my game and I don't let this happen again."