SUZUKA • Lewis Hamilton, coming off a disappointing race at the Malaysia Grand Prix, cut a surly figure in Suzuka yesterday, fiddling with his phone throughout the entire duration of a pre-race press conference.
Prior to the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, the reigning world champion seemed distracted. He took a selfie and photos of fellow drivers on mobile app Snapchat, giving himself bunny ears and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr a "Bambi" face.
When asked by reporters what he was up to, Hamilton gave a withering look, at first pretending not to hear the question.
"It's just some snaps of us drivers, it's quite funny," he sighed.
"Hey man, we've been doing this (press conference) a long, long time and it's the same each time. We've got to keep adding new things to it."
The Briton then elaborated on his sudden charm offensive since rowing back on Sunday's outburst, in which he demanded his Mercedes team for answers after his engine exploded in Sepang.
"I've been planning to do it for a while, so it just turned out to be the appropriate time," he insisted.
Whether or not he had been instructed by team chief Toto Wolff to distance himself from his remarks, Hamilton did not look a happy camper.
As the dust settled last weekend, Hamilton posted on his Instagram account: "I have 100 per cent faith in my team. It's not how we fall, it's how we get up."
And that was his default setting after arriving in Japan, where he will be going for a hat-trick of Suzuka victories.
Fans who felt Hamilton had been hard done by after his engine conked out in Malaysia "can just go on my Instagram", he shrugged.
"I put all my feelings on there... But as you've seen from my post, you've seen how passionate I am about this team and about my guys."
Mercedes have said that they discovered the cause of Hamilton's engine failure following exhaustive investigations, revealing that a big-end bearing failure in the crankshaft led to the blow-out and sabotaged a race he was dominating.
It was Hamilton's third power unit failure of the year and he will revert to the engine he used in Singapore this weekend. Rosberg will use the same one he ran in Malaysia.