Hamilton in fresh media storm

08/10/2016
NEWS STORY

Forty-eight hours after Lewis Hamilton was criticised by sections of the British media, the Mercedes driver returned the compliment, accusing them of disrespect and refusing to answer questions at his team's post-qualifying press conference.

The snub came at Mercedes own press briefing which followed today's qualifying session and the official FIA press conference which was itself truncated.

As reporters at the team press conference waited, Hamilton sat and smiled, as if to himself, and finally said: "The smiles on your faces will probably be no longer", before raising his voice, just a little, and adding: "I am not actually here to answer your questions, I have decided.

"With the utmost respect, there are many of you here that are super supportive of me," he continued. "And those of you hopefully know I know who you are. There are others, unfortunately, that often take advantage of certain things.

"The other day was a super light-hearted thing, and if I was disrespectful to any of you guys, or if you felt that I was disrespectful, it was honestly not the intention. It was just a little bit of fun.

"But what was more disrespectful was what was then written worldwide.

"I don't really plan sitting here many more times for these kind of things so my apologies and I hope you guys enjoy the rest of your weekend," he concluded, before rising from his seat and walking out, to the obvious embarrassment of the team's head of communications Bradley Lord.

Needless to say, that same section of the (British) media was quick to react, and reports of Hamilton's actions were given preference to reports on today's qualifying session.

Already smarting from the events in Sepang where an engine failure cost him a certain win, and post-race comments appeared to suggest his team was working against him, the Briton, having clarified his comments, insisting that he actually believed the failure was essentially an 'act of god', was attacked by sections of the media following Thursday's press conference.

For much of Thursday's press conference, which was also attended by Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton was looking at his mobile phone and smiling.

When a journalist asked what he was doing, Hamilton said: "It's quite funny, just some snaps of us drivers, it's quite funny. That's about it. Hey man, we've been doing this a long, long time and it's the same each time so got to keep adding new things to it."

In fact, the Mercedes was using social media app Snapchat to post images and messages for his followers. Along with images of himself and fellow panellists which had been transformed into animals with distorted voices, the Briton wrote "this sh*t is killing me".

Some members of the media subsequently accused Hamilton of disrespect, not only of them but of race fans, while others cited the bad language he had used in his posts.

Explaining that he meant no offence but that he was merely having a bit of fun with his followers during what he regards as one of the most cliched parts of the race weekend, the Briton refused to answer any further questions on the subject... though it was clear the media was not going to let him off the hook so easily.

Whatever one thinks of Hamilton's actions, the fact is that despite being a great driver, his anarchic - certainly by F1 standards - rock 'n' roll attitude is gold dust for the sport, and one which the likes of Bernie Ecclestone has encouraged.

On the other hand, in the corporate offices of teams who go out of their way not to offend anyone, lest it hits them in the pocket in terms of sponsors, such an attitude is to be frowned upon… if only publicly.

Mercedes, whilst enjoying the wins and titles and all the positive publicity, will shudder at the thought of the media turning on it.

On the other hand, the British media has a long history of building 'heroes' and subsequently knocking them down when they feel their time is up or when said hero refuses to play ball.

At a time Hamilton is already considering conspiracies, one has to wonder if he really wants to rile a British media that has already claimed countless scalps over the years.

None the worse for the incident, Hamilton subsequently attended a fan event along with teammate Nico Rosberg, delighting the crowds as he interacted with them.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Suzuka, here.

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Published: 08/10/2016
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