Crossing the white line: Japan

Date published: October 11 2016

Snapbrat meets moved-under-braking boy…

Snapbrat
That is what one British newspaper called Lewis Hamilton following his antics in Thursday’s press conference at the Suzuka circuit.

Instead of paying attention to the journalists, giving informative answers, and generally being present, Hamilton spent the brief press conference on his phone, playing on Snapchat.

It earned him the wrath of Fleet Street.

“I agree, the FIA press conference format is static, but you can’t defend this,” said The Sun’s Ben Hunt. “So apart from the lack of respect (which I don’t expect people to get), when is it ok to swear on social media? Hardly good for the kids…”

The Times’ Kevin Eason was also unimpressed. “Think the world champion could have ditched the phone and concentrated a little harder for the benefit of the huge Japanese audience.”

Former driver Martin Brundle added: “Instead of focusing on the world championship, he seems to be focusing on an app that puts bunny ears on people. It’s childish and stupid.”

Hamilton has 100 Formula 1 podiums to his name, 57 pole positions, and has started on the front row of the grid 101 times. That is 201 press conferences and it is not counting all the times he has started P3 or sat in on a Thursday outing.

Hamilton not only defended his “fun” antics but hit back by walking out of a Mercedes press conference in the wake of qualifying.

“What was more disrespectful was what was then written worldwide,” was the Brit’s assessment of the situation.

With that sort of behaviour it is no wonder Mercedes reportedly fear that he is having a “meltdown.”

It is also no wonder Nico Rosberg is leading the championship…

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‘Max moved under braking’
Those were the words uttered by Lewis Hamilton as his efforts to finish second in the Japanese Grand Prix were thwarted by yet another robust block from Max Verstappen.

“I closed the door,” admitted the Red Bull driver.

And yet somehow, someway, once again he walked away without any consequences for his actions.

Mercedes tried. They lodged a protest against Verstappen for driving “erratically and in a dangerous manner.”

Hours later, though, they withdrew it after the stewards deferred the hearing until the next race, the United States GP, in two weeks.

It is becoming a rather strange situation and one that has the makings for conspiracies and cries of favouritism.

There is no doubting that Verstappen, at just 19 years of age, has brought something special to Formula 1. The future World Champion has put bums in seats, inspired a new generation, and often lights up somewhat boring Sunday afternoons.

That is all good and well but when one of his over-aggressive moves in the braking zones finally does have a serious consequence – and I’m not talking about a penalty for him – what will the headlines be then?

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Ferrari’s strategy a shambles
Ferrari do not have the pace to challenge Mercedes. They know that, I know that and you know that.

So why did they try to do just that at Suzuka?

Sebastian Vettel was holding down third place ahead of the fast-approaching Lewis Hamilton. There was, however, still a gap and one that could have been maintained if Ferrari had pitted him a lap or two earlier than the Brit.

All afternoon it was evident that the driver pitting first got the jump whether that be through closing a gap or even leapfrogging the driver ahead.

And yet instead of pitting before Hamilton, Ferrari did it after.

Hamilton took third place, Vettel failed to finish the Japanese GP on the podium for the first time since 2008 and Ferrari were left with egg on the face – again.

Melvill