Formula One star Lewis Hamilton has been slammed by animal rights group PETA for apparently teasing a tiger and a jaguar during a visit to Mexico.

The 31 year old Mercedes driver and current world champion visited the Black Jaguar-White Tiger Foundation in Mexico on Monday (August 8th), and some of the photos he posted via Snapchat and Instagram drew a number of critical comments from animal lovers, including PETA.

In most of the snaps, Hamilton is petting and generally staying his distance from the captive animals, but in a handful of others he’s seen playfully rough-housing with the big cats.

The animal rights group was less than impressed, saying that doing so was cruel to the animals but also extremely dangerous for him – or, as they put it, a “far more foolish move than tangling with Nico Rosberg [his Mercedes team mate and world title rival].”

More: Simon Cowell makes awkward Lewis Hamilton joke in front of Nicole Scherzinger

A statement released on Wednesday night by PETA Director Elisa Allen read: “Seeing big cats used for photo ops promotes the idea that wild animals are here for human amusement and to do with as humans please, rather than to be left in peace in their own habitat.”

“Accidents happen, as everyone in racing knows, and Lewis won’t win the championship this year or any other if he loses the hands he needs to turn the wheel, the fingers he needs to shift gears, or a foot that he needs to work the pedals.”

But her final comments was the most barbed, implying that Rosberg might be the better driver of the two...

“Unless big cats are kept on tranquillisers, they’re quite capable of becoming annoyed with him and taking a chunk out of more than his cap. Ask any victim of a tiger or lion mauling or the relatives of those who didn’t survive one, and they’ll assure Lewis that cuddling exotic animals is a far more foolish move than tangling with Nico Rosberg.”

More: Katie Price criticised by PETA for dying a horse. Really.