Hamilton’s classy gesture to bitter rival
LEWIS Hamilton has urged the F1 media to show more respect to title rival Sebastian Vettel.
The Ferrari driver has committed a series of high-profile errors in recent races while Hamilton has won six of the last seven events to surge 67 points clear in the standings.
"I feel the media need to show a little more respect for Sebastian," Hamilton wrote on social media. "You simply cannot imagine how hard it is to do what we do at our level."
Vettel, who has hitherto shunned social media, was widely criticised after his most recent mistakes, running off track in qualifying for the Japanese GP before crashing into Red Bull's Max Verstappen on race day.
WHAT DID HAMILTON SAY?
In a post on his Instagram account, Hamilton wrote:
"I feel the media need to show a little more respect for Sebastian. You simply cannot imagine how hard it is to do what we do at our level, for any athlete at the top of their game that is. It is to be expected that being humans we will make mistakes but it is how we get through them that counts."
WHAT DID THE MEDIA SAY ABOUT VETTEL?
The four-time world champion was subject to intense criticism in the wake of his Suzuka setback.
"It is a measure of Lewis Hamilton's total mastery of the track that Sebastian Vettel has been reduced to the type of self-damaging, gung-ho gamble that practically gift-wrapped the world title for the Briton here on Sunday," said the Daily Mail.
The Daily Telegraph wrote: "It was his seventh mistake of an increasingly erratic campaign which has unravelled since the summer break."
And The Sun categorised the Ferrari driver's collision with Verstappen as "another spectacular example of just how Vettel crumbles under the pressure", describing the move as "ridiculous".
But the Sky Sports F1 pundits were also critical of Vettel's driving. "Vettel only has himself to blame for that mistake," said Paul Di Resta. "He's throwing the championship away at exactly the same point it all went wrong last year."
WHAT HAS DRIVEN HAMILTON'S REMARKS?
Just over a year ago, Hamilton was Vettel's fiercest critic in the paddock, condemning his rival's driving in the Azerbaijan GP as "disgraceful" and "disgusting".
His post on Tuesday morning shows how quickly, and how far, the pair have moved on since then.
Pitched into an exclusive fight for this year's world championship, and a battle which will determine whether Vettel or Hamilton will be the first to become a five-time F1 world champion, a strong current of mutual respect has coursed through their rivalry this season.
Inevitably, there have been a few bumps in the road. Just two weeks ago, Hamilton made it plain he felt Vettel had been over-aggressive at the Russian GP and was fortunate to escape sanction.
But Hamilton has also repeatedly expressed his pleasure at being challenged by a driver of Vettel's calibre and success, while the German has twice made a point of defending Hamilton in public.
The first occasion was in Bahrain when Vettel interrupted a media conference to denounce what he felt was unfair" questioning of Hamilton, and the second after Hamilton criticised Ferrari's "interesting tactics" at the British GP before subsequently apologising.
"It's fine," responded Vettel. "It was silly to say it but we are racing."
Perhaps Hamilton's post on Tuesday morning was a form of payback?
Others, less charitably, will no doubt ask whether Hamilton would have defended Vettel if the destiny of the championship was still in doubt.
But many will simply regard Hamilton's post as a classy and generous act.