The allegations of misconduct by Red Bull boss Christian Horner involving a team employee have been in the headlines around the world for the past month.

That controversy has been followed by news of internal investigations involving FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Asked by if he was saddened that off-track events are currently dominating the world championship he has contested for the past 17 years, seven-time title-winner Hamilton made it clear that he is concerned by their impact.

"As someone who loves the sport, it's definitely disappointing to see what's going on right now,” the Mercedes driver said. “It doesn't look good from the outside world, the outside looking in.

“I think it's a really, really important time for the sport to really show and stick to its values, holding ourselves accountable for our actions.

“And it's a really, really pivotal moment, I think, for the sport, in terms of what we project to the world, and how it's handled. And it's not been handled very well to this point.

“Transparency is really key. And I'm really, really hoping to see some progress moving forwards.

“I hope it's not a year that continues to go on with this. But it highlights some of the issues we also have within the sport.

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, Mohammed bin Sulayem, President, FIA, talk in the pit lane

“And when we're talking about diversity, inclusion, that inclusion for example, and making people feel comfortable in this environment, is key. And it's clearly not the case.”

Hamilton later added that fans “need to trust us, they need to be able to trust the sport”.

Asked if he was used to “Piranha Club” behaviour after so many years, he said: "Yeah, kind of. I don't really know what to say.

"This is not the part of the sport that I love. But you find these things, I guess, in business. It definitely is an interesting time.”

Regarding the potential impact of the ongoing Horner saga on Red Bull, Hamilton made some intriguing observations about his time at McLaren, and specifically the disruption that occurred when the leadership of Ron Dennis was called into question.

“Just from my experience obviously having gone through something similar back in the day when I was at McLaren, in the sense of our leader was in question, and was going through a difficult time,” he explained. “And it affected everybody.

“I remember kind of when we were losing Ron, for example, the things that Ron was going through, and the steps that we had to take, it affected all of us.

“A leader is super important because they set the tone, they make sure the team sticks to the core values of what the sport is about, and integrity.

“And whilst there are loads of people further down the trough who are just as important, that leader is key, I think, to the destination that you're working towards.”

Ron Dennis, Team Principal, McLaren Mercedes, and Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-23 Mercedes, congratulate each other on a world championship success

Asked what he loves about F1, Hamilton made it clear that he still enjoys the competition and the ongoing quest to be more competitive.

The 39-year-old is entering the final year of his 11-year stint at Mercedes before he joins Ferrari in 2025.

"The things I love about the sport is the team element, it's the competition, it's everyone working to be in the best they can be,” he reflected.

“It's everyone within a team rowing in the same direction, and chasing something that's almost unattainable, which is perfection, innovation and winning the world championship. It's such an incredible thing.

“Then close battles. That's what you want to see more of within our sport.

“We've had the Schumacher dominance, you had my era of dominance, it happens all the time. And I think we can't take anything away from Red Bull. They've done such an amazing job.

“I mean, all of what they've done as a team, I think it's really great. And they really raised the bar so high, so we're all striving to get to that.

“It would be great if we were all having a closer battle. But I think that's what's being worked on.”