AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Triple Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has been called to appear in Thursday’s official U.S. Grand Prix news conference, two weeks after the Mercedes driver criticized the ‘boring’ format and triggered a media spat in Japan.
Hamilton came under fire at Suzuka for playing on his telephone during the main news conference there, using the Snapchat app to take pictures of fellow drivers and sounding generally disinterested.
He then walked out of a team media briefing after Saturday qualifying, hitting out at “disrespectful” criticism of his behavior by journalists and saying he was “not here to answer your questions”.
The 31-year-old was upset after journalists took to social media to criticize his behavior and he blocked some British Formula One reporters on Twitter.
A media schedule issued by Mercedes ahead of the race at the Circuit of the Americas listed Hamilton in the Thursday conference, which is organized by the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA).
Formula One’s sporting regulations stipulate that drivers must attend or face fines if they do not do so.
Hamilton, who has a sponsor event in Austin later on Thursday, will also be available for broadcasters after Friday practice and is scheduled to talk to written media after Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race.
Hamilton, who won his third title in Austin last year, finished third in Suzuka and is now 33 points behind team mate Nico Rosberg in the world championship with four races remaining.
The mathematics are such that even if Hamilton wins every remaining race, Rosberg can still win his first championship by finishing second in each race.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru/Alan Baldwin, Editing by Neville Dalton/Peter Rutherford