Lewis Hamilton has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after accusing McLaren team-mate Jenson Button of disrespecting him on Twitter.
Hamilton, who is to leave McLaren for Mercedes at the end of the year, was taking his cue from a tweet by a journalist suggesting Button had unfollowed him on the social networking site. It led Hamilton to heavily criticise the 2009 world champion.
In a series of tweets on his official feed, Hamilton wrote: "Just noticed @jensonbutton unfollowed, thats a shame. After 3 years as teammates, I thought we respected one another but clearly he doesn't."
He went on: "Funny thing is, we are STILL teammates! All good tho, I plan on giving this team & fans all I got til I cross the finish line in brazil!!!"
But the 27-year-old was left red-faced when he realised Button did not follow his Twitter account in the first place.
That led him to tweet: "My bad, just found out Jenson never followed me. Don't blame him! Need to be on Twitter more!"
Hamilton's comments can only have left Button unimpressed, and could put a strain on their working relationship at a crucial stage of the season.
The faux pas marked the final chapter of a tough week for Hamilton. His move to Mercedes was the talk of the paddock at the Japanese Grand Prix and he refused to answer questions about it at an FIA press conference on Thursday.
His weekend was scarcely better on the track with a fifth-place finish at Suzuka, as Sebastian Vettel took victory, leaving him still 42 points adrift of points leader Fernando Alonso, despite the Ferrari driver's first-corner accident. And Hamilton admitted after the race that his title hopes are fading.
He said: "I am quite realistic, I know my situation, but the Red Bulls are going to be hard to beat. I got some points but there is not much more I can be happy with. The fight is still on with Fernando not finishing so we will keep pushing."