Stevenage, Tuesday: 2008 Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton found himself at the centre of criticism from his local authority today after he was spotted in his home town driving at a reasonable speed and obeying the rules of the road.

Hamilton has recently been noted for his increasingly reckless driving both on and off the track, having been arrested in Melbourne for spinning his wheels away from a road junction and spotted weaving in front of Vitaly Petrov’s Renault in the Malaysian Grand Prix. In the latter case, F1 stewards warned Hamilton that if he were to do such a thing again, he would be “told very sternly not to do it again.”

Careful: Unnecessarily safe driver Lewis Hamilton

However, onlookers were shocked today in Hertfordshire when Hamilton was seen driving around his town centre with due care and attention, at one stage even slowing to allow an old lady to cross the road. “This is not what we expect from Lewis at all,” town councillor Kevin Hogwash told reporters. “Lewis has a strong reputation as someone who drives in exactly the opposite manner of a safe driver – he is a very good benchmark when we are advising young people in Stevenage how not to drive. What will they think now?”

Hamilton apologised for the lapse and blamed the absence of his father, Anthony, who recently resigned as Lewis’ manager in order to pursue his own business interests. “Since Dad hasn’t been around crashing expensive cars into trees, I’ve sort of lost my way,” the former world champion said. “I’m sorry that my driving hasn’t been to the usual low standard you have come to expect of me.”

The McLaren driver was later considered by Stevenage authorities to have redeemed himself after attempting to lie about where he had been that morning, and then telling a police officer to “go f***ing swivel.”