A leading Formula One journalist has apologised to McLaren for a quote wrongly attributed to Lewis Hamilton, autosport.com has learned.
Hamilton was quoted by Montreal's newspaper La Presse as admitting he himself caused the gearbox problem, which saw him drop from sixth to 18th at the early stages of the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Veteran Formula One journalist Luc Domenjoz' report from the event included a direct quote from Hamilton himself, saying he had pressed the wrong button by mistake on his steering wheel, putting the car into neutral.
The report was immediately quoted by numerous Internet websites and was seen as proof that Hamilton cracked under the pressure of the world championship finale.
However, Domenjoz yesterday admitted that he did not talk to Hamilton and explained that he relied on information he heard in conversation with other journalists, who in turn were quoting what Hamilton had supposedly said to his engineers.
The highly respected Frenchman further explained that he was under deadline constraints and did not have a chance to verify the information with Hamilton himself or with McLaren.
When approached by autosport.com, Domenjoz said: "my mistake was using a quote by Lewis when I did not talk to him myself. I had other verifiable information and I stand by my report, but under the time pressure I made a mistake by using that quote."
The incident comes on the back of ongoing criticism by McLaren team boss Ron Dennis for the damage the Internet medium is causing to media coverage.
"I have said so often, the Internet has been the bane of our lives," he said at Interlagos last weekend. "This is an uncontrolled, unedited, source of information that is fed into the media.
"Of course, I am not critical at all of the media. It just makes it so hard because everything is so instantaneous. You are just spending too much time trying to correct the inaccuracies that come into the system."