The seven-time Formula 1 world champion rented a Nissan GT-R during a trip to Japan, and filmed a video of his joyride behind the wheel of the iconic machine.
The video shows Hamilton drifting the modern classic, doing doughnuts and driving at high speeds on camera, set to the dance track “Pump the brakes” by Australian artist Dom Dolla.
Publishing the clip on his social media page, Hamilton wrote that “I only like to drive on track, but I make exceptions”.
The Japanese rental company that lent him the Skyline, Omoshiro Rent-A-Car, said the video “was not taken with permission from our company” and that “such driving is strictly prohibited”.
Millions of people have watched the viral clip, which has divided opinions in the motoring community.
Some people said Hamilton was “an absolute legend”, asked for “more content like this” and that “you can’t be a car lover and not love this video”.
Others called Hamilton “an absolute knob” and said “the Japanese car community lost respect for you”. One said: “it doesn’t matter how famous you are … please never come to Japan again”.
Car lovers expressed concern about what appeared to be tyre smoke emanating from the Nissan’s gear shifter, suggesting Hamilton’s driving was tantamount to abuse. Others pointed out that the car’s value likely increased as a result of the viral clip.
The Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R is an iconic machine popularised by video games and movies including Gran Turismo and the Fast and Furious franchise.
Australian prices for the machine currently range from about $200,000 to $700,000.
Hamilton has an interesting history with road cars, including a run-in with Victoria Police following a burnout behind the wheel of a Mercedes at the 2010 Australian Grand Prix.
The champion succinctly summed up how he felt about drifting after dark in the GT-R, telling social media followers “that was ******* sick!”