MEXICO CITY -- Lewis Hamilton has brushed off criticism of his recent attempts to raise awareness about climate change and is planning to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle by the end of the year.
In the days following the Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton posted a series of messages on Instagram in which he said he felt like "giving up on everything" because the "world is in such a mess".
The post attracted supportive comments from concerned fans as well as criticism from those pointing out the size of Hamilton's carbon footprint as a Formula One driver travelling the world and racing cars.
Asked about the post and the reaction to it ahead of this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix, Hamilton said he was simply trying to use his significant social media presence for good.
"Lots of people have had opinions about how I utilise social media, but ultimately it's my platform," he said. "We all have a voice, everyone here and around the world. It's how you choose to and how you want to use it.
"It's not the easiest because, yes, we are travelling around the world, we are racing Formula One cars. Our carbon footprint for sure is higher than the average homeowner who lives in the same city. But it doesn't mean you should be afraid to speak out about things that can be for a positive change.
"I'm always looking at things and how I can improve the effect that I'm having on the world. It's something that I guess over time I've become more and more aware of. It takes a while. It's not a quick fix thing, it takes time to understand the implications.
"I think it's just about education, and I'm just trying to highlight areas. Whether people choose to look into those, that's up to them, but I'd feel like I wasn't doing anything positive if I didn't mention it."
He went on to explain that he is planning to go carbon neutral by the end of 2019 and listed the various efforts he has already made to limit his carbon footprint.
"In terms of the changing of the things I'm doing in my life, I'm trying to make sure that by the end of the year I'm carbon neutral," he said.
"I don't allow anyone in my office, but also within my household to buy any plastics, I want everything recyclable, down to deodorant, down to toothbrushes, all these kind of things.
"I'm trying to make as much change as I can in my personal space. I told you I sold my plane over a year ago. I fly a lot less now. I'm trying to fly less through the year, I'm mostly flying commercial, so that's been a big change in my habits. I've avoided trips as well if I didn't need to do it, and I've just been in the UK for example with family and going up to Bedfordshire and staying at the house with the family instead of going on holiday.
"Obviously I've changed my diet [to vegan], which is quite a drastic difference.
"For example, I have my new Smart electric [car] at home, it's not hybrid, it's electric. I've sold several of my cars. Some of them I don't want to sell because I love them and I've worked hard for them, and I don't drive them a lot if I'm really honest.
"Also all the cars that I have, Mercedes, I'm very fortunate, I get a few cars around the world, so I have three Mercedes in the States for example, and I sent them back and get EQCs [an all-electric Mercedes car].
"I have a Maybach in London for example, I'm looking to switch that. I think they're bringing a hybrid out at the end of next year for the Maybach, because I love the Maybach. However right now that doesn't really suit what I'm fighting for, so I need to change that either for an EQC or one of the hybrids they have.
"I'm constantly making changes. It's not a quick fix, it's not something you do over a short period of time. But I feel positive that I'm making those changes, and I'm encouraging people around me also."
After his Instagram post last week, Hamilton issued a follow up assuring them he hadn't "given up on everything".
He went on to explain that he tries to be open on social media and occasionally has negative days too. "I'm only human," he said when asked about what was going through his mind when he made the original post.
"So like everyone, you have up and down days. I think that's what I've been trying to convey really.
"It's very difficult for people who are watching on social media to be able to relate to certain individuals who live in a celebrity world. A lot of people don't realise that they're also humans and they also have feelings and they have the ups and downs. Some people do care, some people care less, whatever.
"I think I've done really well in the past to stay positive for the majority of the time, but I think there is a lot that goes on in our lives, and I think it's important to be able to be open and not hold things in. I'm always very open and transparent with my feelings, whether people like it or not."