Hamilton walks out of media brief; scolds press

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It seems that Lewis Hamilton wasn’t too happy about the way the press treated him on Thursday when he engaged in a Snapchat bunny ears filter fest during the session and later proclaimed that he had grown bored of the press conferences and the format.

He said he had meant to add some levity to the session and decided that taking pictures and placing bunny ears on drivers was a far better use of the time. NBC’s Will Buxton wrote an article defending his actions saying that it was about time F1 got a shake up and #TeamLH went to social media to offer similar opinions.

The issue was ratcheted up a notch today as Lewis walked out of a press conference saying:

“I’m not actually here to answer your questions, I’ve decided.

“With the utmost respect there are many of you here who are super-supportive of me, and those of you will hopefully know that I know who you are.

“But there are others, unfortunately, who often take advantage of certain things.

“The other day was a super-lighthearted thing, and if I was disrespectful to any of you guys, or you felt I was disrespectful, it honestly was not the intention.

“It was just a little bit of fun.

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

“Unfortunately there are some people here and it’s not them [that have written negative things], and unfortunately the decision I take affects those who have been super-supportive, so that’s why I’m saying with the utmost respect.

“But, yeah, I don’t plan on sitting here many more times at these kind of things, so my apologies, and I hope you guys enjoy the rest of your weekend.”

Lewis may not have been happy about the way the press interpreted his behavior at Thursday’s press conference but the press wasn’t the catalyst at that point in time, it was Lewis’s disdain for the tedious nature of press conferences that started the issue in which the press responded only to then be used as the reason to ditch today’s conference.

For whatever reason, Lewis is tired of doing press conferences for Formula 1 over the course of a race weekend. I have to think that Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen find them tedious too and they’ve been in far more sessions than Lewis has.

Ultimately there is a time and a place for things and even though Will Buxton felt his actions were justified given the tedious nature of the press conference and due to them being televised which takes the very merit of the conference away from its original intent of printed press scoops, I tend to see today’s actions as a bit rash.

For those of you new to Formula 1, you may not recall the relationship the media had with Michael Schumacher and his brother Ralf. Very few drivers I have seen had to endure an antagonistic press like Michael and in Ralf’s case, a downright hostile press—with Mr. Bishop telling him to **** off.

Originally Michael tried to befriend the press but he had a certain nature about him that they didn’t like. He came across aloof and they would usually let him have it. They were never his PR department and usually could be found pulling at the threads on many occasions. Even so, I don’t recall him walking out of official Formula 1 press conferences.

I certainly understand Lewis’s feelings over tedious meetings, we’ve all been there, but I find his actions to be perplexing for both F1 and Mercedes. He’s paid to be there and that’s his job whether he likes it or not. Whether the conference is still effective or if it’s lost its plot. Lewis’s actions, quite honestly, seem to suggest that he feels he is much bigger than F1, the press, the fans, the host nation and the sponsors of the sport.

Whether you feel it completely justified as a thin-skin moment or an outrageous press, Mercedes will not be happy and nor with Formula 1. To them, Lewis is not bigger than the machine that has afforded him the lifestyle he has and it will not go down well with Mr. E or Mercedes or the FIA.

This has nothing to do with social media and F1 and how Lewis was just trying to get F1 out of the dark ages—sorry for disagreeing with Will Buxton here—and it has everything to do with respect, professionalism and being able to take the criticism of your actions. The drivers and the press are symbiotic organisms and both rely on each other to create the world of F1. Getting F1 into digital media by putting bunny ears on drivers is not a digital marketing wakeup call or strategy, it’s impish and petulant behavior and one which I do not think F1 will put up with for very long.

To be honest, Lewis is a fabulous driver but this behavior seems very odd and out of balance when compared to his last two seasons. I’m not sure what’s going on with Lewis but it will be interesting to see what Mercedes does to remedy the situation. F1 and even the teams have contractual obligation to F1 and the FIA and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is placing himself and the team in breach of these.

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16 Comments on "Hamilton walks out of media brief; scolds press"

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Kevin
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Kevin

Hamilton and Trump…same mind set. What the biggest shame is, is that MB has put a muzzle on Niki Lauda. I would love to know what the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team thinks about there (according to Lewis) #1 driver.

F1kat
Guest
F1kat

Was thinking it for a while abt Trump and Lewis. Going through some Quora answers. There you are nailed it. Thanks.

Fred Talmadge
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Fred Talmadge

I think he is feeling the pressure of losing the championship. He is a good driver, lets see if he can rise above it all and be truly great.

Zachary Noepe
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Zachary Noepe
I agree. First of all, another smart, fair balanced treatment of the driver by NC. Great job. F1b is one media source which neither inappropriately creates nor breaks down heroes. The only defense I can make for Lewis is this – he is the driver he is partly because he can NOT live without crushing everyone else. Winning for him is not a goal, its more like a drug addiction he’d kill to feed. When you shop for that quality, as his employer did when they sought him out, you get the whole enchilada. That enchilada goes rotten fast when… Read more »
Negative Camber
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It’s part of what I think Lewis has, as well as Seb and Fernando, that makes him a champion. Recall Seb saying he wasn’t here to play wet nurse to Webber. I think Max and Daniel have it too. Lewis is a big personality that is here to win. When he doesn’t, there is a wake of collateral damage in words, moods, and body language. He’s pissed. He should be, he’s here to win. As I look at it, I think Lewis can do this without the toys from the pram moves. He can manipulate the message and get out… Read more »
F1kat
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F1kat

He called someone idiot in Twitter, don’t know if he (they) are from MB or toto.

Gram
Guest
Gram
Told you guys things were about to get frosty with the media. The media needs Hamilton more than he needs them. Unfortunately, they’ve become exploitative in taking anything he says or does and spinning it to create controversy and in effect sell papers and drive up web traffic. Their latest exploitation was taking Hamilton’s religious comment of god not wanting him to win as sabotage by Mercedes. One does not have to be religious to understand the belief that people of faith feel their god puts them through trying times to test them and make them stronger. The media globally… Read more »
Negative Camber
Guest
I don’t think anyone was disagreeing with you on the other post, mate, I think it is a case of perspective. It wasn’t the press that were amplifying the conspiracy talk as much as it was his fans. The press were saying it was bunk to suggest it and when he “clarified” the higher power, they were like…meh. Every sport needs a villain and that can change given circumstances. Schumacher, Vettel, and Fernando have all fell afoul of the press and been made to be the villain. It certainly could happen at Red Bull…again (Webber/Vettel). For me, he may have… Read more »
Gram
Guest
Gram
Not buying it mate. You guys are just looking for anything to justify your baseless criticism. Like you said, its his fans that you say the conspiracy theories are coming from. What you then do is act like its Hamilton saying those things instead of fans. And your only defense is …well Lewis was “dog whistling.” And boom! Just like that you’ve given yourself license to interpret anything he says in a way to fit your agenda. You won’t accept anything at face value because you don’t want to! That would be inconvenient for the narrative you guys want to… Read more »
Negative Camber
Guest
Well, I would say you may be choosing not to see a fair criticism of someone’s behavior or reading too much in to my comments. He does dog-whistle things to his fan base and if you think he doesn’t, I would suggest going back and reading through his social media timelines. You’ll see it. Lewis is much smarter than you are giving him credit for. He’s a sharp guy who knows the wave of populist appeal he has with his fans. It’s one of his appealing traits that F1 and pundits like about him, he’s using digital media and promoting… Read more »
mini696
Member

If he really meant no disrespect he would not have been so defensive. Lewis is a drama queen.

Mercedes would be winning without Lewis, and now Hamilton is trying to make himself more important than the team.

Tim C
Guest
Tim C
Lewis is a great driver . . . no doubt about that. He’s proven he can get the job done. But how many other drivers on the F1 grid are just as good and would jump at the chance to be in a Mercedes this year. Think of Alonzo . . . I kinda think he would be just as good as Lewis if he were driving a Mercedes. How much longer are they going to put up with this behavior when they have other choices of drivers. Mercedes main focus is the constructors championship. And, there are many other… Read more »
ETM
Member
ETM

Odds that Hamilton would have been happy to attend the press conference, if he was on pole and leading the WDC points? …err… 100%.

Prakhar Mehrotra
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Prakhar Mehrotra
I think Lewis might have actually done the press a favor. This story has gotten way more traction and clicks than anything that would have come out the press conference that was missed. At the end of the day, the press is there to sell stories, and this one seems to be a winner. On a more serious note, Hamilton hasn’t been doing himself any favors since Malaysia and this will only escalate him and distract him from driving. Meanwhile, it seem that Rosberg is getting on with it. If Rosberg wins the WDC and Lewis’s paranoia and misguided behavior… Read more »
Alianora La Canta
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Alianora La Canta
The problem is that for a certain amount of time in the weekend, Lewis is there to answer the media questions. Pretending otherwise, and kicking up a fake controversy about it, merely causes rancor to others and distraction to himself. I don’t believe Lewis’ celebrity lifestyle is (usually) a distraction to him, but this sort of at-venue gamesmanship is – and I think it lost him P2 today, because with a little more focus I think he’d have been on pole, which would have made his start less bad, and most likely meant he spent the race behind only the… Read more »
deadbroke
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deadbroke
Am I going crazy here? I am 31 and I hate snapchat and general social media nonsense but I LOVE that Lewis does this stuff. How dull would F1 be without Lewis. I’m serious. Don’t we all pine for the “good ole days” when James Hunt would swagger around, women in tow. Senna ranting in drivers meetings, Nelson Piquet throwing punches. How can any self respecting adult have a tantrum because some racing driver posted photos of them in a press conference with deer ears or whatever? Do you get mad when your child draws you as an amorphous stick… Read more »