Hamilton starts ‘BunnyGate’ with Snapchat filtered F1 press conference

Have you ever had a job where there was an interminable weekly meeting that you slogged your way through and your contribution to the session is usually a small portion of entirety of the meeting? Have you ever found your mind wandering during those meetings and getting distracted by something? That seems to be what happened to Lewis Hamilton during Thursday’s driver press conference and the champ is taking some heat over his actions.

The majority of the press conference, Lewis was on his phone. Smiling, chuckling and otherwise completely removed from the session. His answers to the direct questions were curt and brief. He seemed completely removed from the situation.

As it turns out, he was taking pictures of himself and other drivers at the conference and posting them on Snapchat using the bunny ears filter. When a reporter asked Lewis what was so interesting on his phone, Lewis said:

“Just some snaps of us drivers, it’s quite funny. “Hey man, we’ve been doing this a long, long time and it’s the same each time. We’ve got to keep adding new things to it.”

Some in the press weren’t too happy about his actions and suggested that it was an insult to the Japanese fans but Lewis quickly responded to criticism saying:

“Today was meant to be fun, not at all disrespectful. Some people take themselves too seriously. I had a blast, highlight of my day!

“Re press conference, it’s been the same for 10 years. It’s not the media or mediator, it’s the format. Fans should be asking the questions!!”

Lewis’s #TeamLH fan base were quick to point out that he brings the access and fun to the F1 world through his use of social media and found the bunny ears humorous in and otherwise tedious conference and suggested the bunny ears were more entertaining than the conference.

That may be true but unless I am missing something, the news conference isn’t designed for entertainment value, it’s role is to provide the world press access to the drivers in order to ask questions for their publications in the lead up to the grand prix. It can be technical, philosophical, or tactical in nature but it can also be light-hearted as well and perhaps Lewis was trying to bring some levity to the proceedings.

Sharing the photos with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, the other two drivers looked uncomfortable like kids at school when another student shows them a dodgy picture or the answers to a test. Clearly they felt the situation was not appropriate given the history and expectation of the press conference and some in the media were quick to point that out.

Lewis looked incredibly bored at the press conference and like those meetings I am sure we all have been involved with, it happens but in the end, we’re paid to attend those meetings and follow the format which Lewis called in to question by suggesting, via social media, that the fans should be asking the questions during the conferences, not the media.

“Today was meant to be fun, not at all disrespectful,” he said. “Some people take themselves too seriously. I had a blast, highlight of my day! It’s not the media or mediator, it’s the format. Fans should be asking the questions!”

The challenge in that is the process by which fans would get questions submitted and the uncomfortable nature of some of those questions could catch the drivers off guard or teams may not be quite prepared to answer publicly. A diverse line of questioning could get slightly unruly as well.

Much of it depends on how much fan interaction F1 would like not to mention that if the press conferences were all being driven by fans, what would the F1 media actually do then? I tend to like the F1 media and the hard work they do and rely on their wisdom, insight and access for content that goes beyond fan boy questions. I may be biased but for me, the F1 press serve a critical function and this is coming from a guy who owns a large fan-based F1 community blog. Perhaps if the F1 press wore bunny ears, Lewis and fans would be more entertained.

Remember those times when Mr. Ecclestone said he doesn’t get all this social media stuff? This may be the part of social media he isn’t too keen about. :)

At least Carlos Sainz took the whole situation in stride tweeting:

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

David Poles

there is a certain level of professionalism that comes with any job. This is a part of what you get paid to do.

Max Johnson

I see what Lewis is doing is more aligned with the marketing strategy of the new owner Liberty Media.


In case you guys haven’t figured it out, this is Hamilton sticking the finger at the press for instigating a false controversy in Sepang. The press disrespected Hamilton by twisting his words against Mercedes after his engine blew. He’s just returning the favor. If the press can’t be respectful of drivers and instead tries to use comments they make to sell papers, what they’ll get is curt answers and zero attention. And you guys wonder why Hamilton gives short answers. Game on! Balls in your court media. No scoopes, no access, no exclusives. Lets see how you like it.

Negative Camber

Hmmm…I sense they need very little additional information as most of his life is on social media and they just source it to be honest. Not sure it’s a big slap at media rather the press conference being tedious, in his mind, and he was just trying to have some fun with it. It’s the first time someone has done that in an official event so of course the reactions are going to be one of surprise given the traditional approach. I would assume this falls under the category of using social media during an event which is something the… Read more »


Maybe. But I think you’re going to see a particularly cold relationship between the press and Hamilton as he feels they burned him in Sepang. Alonso and Sainz both said very interesting things. Particularly the upgrades on Honda power being reliability and the culture of Honda. But that’s not what the press is talking about are they? This highlights just how much the press treats Hamilton as a tool to sell papers/clicks. The other drivers gave them useful content to write about, but completely ignored it because their comments will not feed the beast. Comment forums are not going to… Read more »


At this moment it is difficult to take Lewis out of F1 Media. Had Lewis made F1 more popular than ever by using his social media skill? may be may not be. F1 viewers are not increased in last many years. Lewis is not as bored as Kimi when comes to press conf. May be it is a new Phone he has bought recently.

Max Johnson

The press assumes I actually waste my time watching these boring interviews.

Peter Riva

The press conference for old farts like me was, is, always interesting. Alonso and Kimi stood out. Now, as for Hamilton, guess what, he is right. The FUTURE of F1 is the fans. The Mesage is the Medium, or have we all forgotten that?

Peter Riva

Wish I could check spelling… “Message”


Wow, total culture slap. This is interesting, it strikes me as SOOO unprofessional in that this is LH’s job as a International Rep for Merc. I think its disrespectful to the culture of F1..yet, now that I have read some of the other points here…I’m shifting. In our staff trainings we are working at incorporating twitter questions to a moderator and encouraging staff to tag the event images on instagram and send in images to a moderator who puts them on the big screen. Its been weird…like casual Friday or staff allowed to bring dogs to work…seems just bizarre for… Read more »


There’s a difference between being asked by your employers to use social media and sitting in a meeting toying with your phone. It’s all about “time and place”. Hamilton is extremely well paid to do the job he signed on to do. The weekly press conference is part of that. Do your job and keep the bunny ears for your own time.


Funny. Lewis has always been a class act. Did you all take in the Lewis Hamilton vs. James Corden video? Driving an AMG Benz, event sponsored by Puma, James gets to ask Lewis as many questions as he can in one lap. One of the questions he asks is, “If you could sing me a song, what would it be?” Lewis says, “Smack my bitch up.” This song and video is about some dude doing heroin and then smackin his bitch up. Do a little googling to see what I am talking about. Excellent representation for brands like MB and… Read more »

Fred Talmadge

Isn’t Snapchat something teenage girls do?