Lewis Hamilton shut down talk of his engine horror show in Malaysia as he fooled around on his phone at a bizarre press conference for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who trails team-mate Nico Rosberg by 23 points in the title race, was leading in Sepang when his engine blew up with just 15 laps remaining on Sunday.
But the incident, which provoked a furious Hamilton to question his own Mercedes camp, appeared far removed from the Briton’s mind in Suzuka. At one stage, Hamilton, who was joined in the press conference by five other drivers – including Fernando Alonso and British rookie Jolyon Palmer – wiped away tears of laughter using his sleeve as he uploaded a number of short videos to his Snapchat account.
Using a filter application on his phone, Hamilton, 31, posted a video in which he was “wearing” drawn-on rabbit ears, whiskers and carrots, accompanied with the words: “This shit is killing me.”
Hamilton also took a video of Carlos Sainz, sitting behind him, before adding a fake fox’s ears and nose to the Spaniard’s face. With the press conference live on television, Hamilton showed the videos to Alonso and Sainz who each shared a smile.
Asked what was so amusing, Hamilton said: “It’s quite funny. Just some snaps of us drivers. We’ve been doing this [format of press conferences] a long, long time and it’s the same. Just got to keep adding new things to it.”
He later denied he’d intended to be disrespectful. “Some people take themselves to [sic] seriously,” he wrote on Twitter. “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!”
Mercedes have attributed Hamilton’s engine failure to a big-end bearing failure and will adopt a conservative strategy in Suzuka.