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:
— Carlos Sainz (@carlosainz) October 6, 2016