The goodwill which surrounded Lewis Hamilton when he arrived as a fresh-faced 22-year-old in 2007 may be fast ebbing away, and there is a suspicion Hamilton needs protecting from himself at this stage of his career.
After two storming years, culminating in him winning the world championship in 2008, he has found things slightly harder since, and with that and the pressure heaped upon him day-in, day-out, he has started to show signs of feeling the strain.
It all got too much after a poor Monaco Grand Prix where he had spent almost as much time in front of the stewards as he had on track. Without anyone from his recently-signed management team on hand to calm him down, he blew his top in a series of swipes at anyone and everything.
His Ali G aside did not deserve the publicity it got, nor should Hamilton have been subjected to the opprobrium he was. It was a misguided remark that showed a poor lack of judgment on his part for sure, but little more than that. We all demand instant reaction from sportsmen. When they trot out glib, rehearsed soundbites, we complain. And yet when they say something slightly off message, we seize on it.
It does raise questions as to what his, presumably highly-paid, advisors were up to. Reports suggest there was nobody on hand to protect him from himself. Had they, you suspect he would have been in a more controlled state of mind facing the media.
It was notable that his father, Anthony, who guided him on the way up and whose services were publically dispensed with at the start of last season, was the man to take him to one side and talk some paternal sense to him.
What is more worrying is his alienation of the people he races against. Nobody expects drivers in this day and age to be best pals, but equally there has to be respect between them, and in crossing that line, as he did with digs at Felipe Massa and Patsor Maldonado, he comes across as arrogant and boorish.
It also only adds to a growing reputation among the public that he is an individual who always blames someone else when things go wrong rather than admit he might be at fault.
Let's not forget, Hamilton remains a young, brilliant driver and one that the public want to watch. He just needs to learn a little restraint, a little humility and to let his driving do more of the talking for him.
Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA