F1 Report: Was Lewis Hamilton in the wrong with the media in Japan?
Post-Japan F1 Report show presents a 'journalists special'
Last Updated: 13/10/16 3:19pm
Was Lewis Hamilton in the wrong for his media antics at the Japanese GP or should the world champion be given more respect? And is he right that F1's media format needs changing? All these questions are answered on a 'journalists special' for the F1 Report.
Hamilton dominated the headlines in Suzuka, not just for his struggles on-track after losing more ground to Nico Rosberg, but also for his use of Snapchat during an FIA session and his cancellation of two press briefings.
Fleet Street reacted furiously to Hamilton's snub and Phil Duncan, F1 correspondent for the Press Association, argued the 31-year-old created his own problems on a weekend that could be crucial in the title race.
"There were perhaps a few headlines that Lewis wouldn't have agreed with," Duncan said on the F1 Report. "But if he hadn't put himself in that position where he was acting like a fool then he wouldn't have attracted that attention.
"There aren't any other drivers who would do that. Some people made the point saying Lewis has been doing this for a long time and it's boring. But sitting to his left was Kimi Raikkonen, who's been doing it longer, and sitting to his right was Fernando Alonso, who has been doing it four or five years longer, so I don't think that's an excuse.
"In a way you have to thank Lewis because he creates so many headlines, he was on the back of lots of papers, albeit with rabbit ears, but he is the superstar - and he knows that. I just don't think anyone else would put themselves in that position."
Meanwhile, NBC's F1 reporter Will Buxton, who has worked in the sport for over a decade, felt that Hamilton's actions in the press conferences prove it's time the format was changed.
"The manner in which the organisation from a media perspective works in Formula 1 is two decades behind where it should be," insisted Buxton. "It's an information exercise, nothing more, nothing less. It is, by its very nature, inherently dull, it's not good television, but it is broadcast.
"So that means all the questions these guys ask are immediately in the public domain and they no longer hold any relevance in the newspaper the next morning. Fewer and fewer questions are being asked by serious journalists which means the questions are more benign, which means the drivers become disinterested and disengaged. It's completely inevitable.
"That Thursday press conference now is utterly pointless. The media don't use it to ask any decent questions, it wastes 30 mins of the drivers time where they're sitting behind a desk looking bored, disinterested, which doesn't portray the sport in a good way. It's endemic of a system that needs totally changing."
Hamilton went on to snub the media on two occasions over the weekend, claiming in his post-qualifying briefing that the coverage of his use of Snapchat worldwide was "disrespectful".
"I feel like he was well within his rights to do that," added Buxton. "If you listen to what he said, he clearly thought about it, he was clearly upset by what had happened. Even if it was just the headlines and he wasn't reading the articles, he was disappointed how something he thought was fun was being portrayed in the press.
"If you give somebody a kicking, and I'm not saying the press shouldn't be able to take somebody to account, you can't expect them to be your best mate the next day. These guys are sports stars, they have responsibilities, but at the same time they're human beings."
Duncan, however, believes Hamilton should have faced up to the media.
"I can't say I agree because when Lewis says 'some of you have been super supportive of me', he's within his rights to say that, but journalists aren't there to be supportive - they're there to be objective," he explained.
"If he doesn't like something that someone writes, you can't then just say I'm not going to speak to any of you, because that's just not how it works."