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SPORTS

Hamilton faces more questions:Briton appears before media today after controversy in Suzuka

SPORTS By Austine Okande | October 20th 2016
[PHOTO: COURTESY]

Triple Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has been called to appear in today’s official US Grand Prix news conference, two weeks after the Mercedes driver criticised 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 behaviour 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 criticise his behaviour 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 today’s conference, which is organised 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.

Meanwhile, Hamilton has vowed to “hold nothing back” as he seeks to overturn a massive deficit to Nico Rosberg and pull off an unlikely title triumph this year.

After a weekend dogged by controversy off-track in Japan and a dominant performance by Rosberg on it, Hamilton fell 33 points behind his Mercedes team-mate with only four races remaining. Rosberg knows that three second places and one third will be enough to make him champion for the first time.

Hamilton concedes he has no choice but to attack in the final four rounds, starting in the United States Grand Prix this weekend.

“We’ve got four races left to make the most of it and that’s exactly what I plan to do,” he said. “It’s just about hitting every race weekend as hard as I can, going all out for every win and seeing what happens from there. I’ll be holding nothing back out there.”

The popular Circuit of the Americas, just outside Austin, is a happy hunting ground for Hamilton to start a potential fightback. He has won three of the four races staged there, including a year ago to memorably clinch a third drivers’ title.

Hamilton added: “First up, we’re back in the States – which is like a second home race for me these days. I love the country, the culture, the people and the track, so I can’t wait to get started. I’ve got some great memories from Austin, with three wins from four races and, of course, the title win last year.”

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