By Alan Baldwin
SEOUL (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton hailed Formula One rival Sebastian Vettel as a great champion on Tuesday, only days after suggesting the German's dominance was sending fans to sleep.
The Mercedes driver told his 1.7 million followers on Twitter that he felt a need to clarify his thoughts about Red Bull's runaway championship leader and winner of the last four races.
"Seb is great champion!!," he declared on his feed (@LewisHamilton). "Not only that, he is a great human being who is funny and humble. Deserves all the success he is having.
"I admire his dedication & ability to consistently perform without mistakes. This is the mark of a true champion," added the Briton, who won the 2008 title with McLaren before Vettel had won the first of his three to date.
Vettel, who does not use Twitter, has a 77-point lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the championship with five races remaining and can clinch his fourth successive title in Japan this weekend.
"Regardless of what you & I may think about his car, at the end of the day he's doing the perfect job," continued Hamilton, whose earlier comments triggered a rash of newspaper headlines. "I'm just grateful I get to drive in an era with so many great drivers like him."
The Briton had told reporters after finishing fifth in Sunday's Korean Grand Prix won by Vettel that the 26-year-old's dominance would have been a turnoff for some fans.
"Personally, I feel for the fans because I remember the period of time when Michael Schumacher was winning," he had said.
"I remember waking up in the morning to watch the start of the race and then going to sleep, and then waking up when it ended because I already knew what would happen. I am pretty sure a lot of people were doing that today."
Hamilton is no stranger to apologies and U-turns performed after Twitter gaffes.
Last year, he apologised to then-McLaren team mate Jenson Button after the Japanese Grand Prix for accusing him of disrespect by 'unfollowing' him only to find out that his compatriot never had followed him.
(Editing by John O'Brien)