[Updated] Lewis Hamilton didn’t have a great day on Saturday in Spa.
First he went the wrong way on aerodynamic set up, selecting the higher downforce option and ending up well behind team mate Jenson Button, then he got into a twist with his Twitter feed, using the expression “WTF” to highlight his frustration with the decision, before swiftly deleting the tweet and rephrasing it. On Sunday morning he did the same with a photo of his telemetry printout out, compared to Button’s.
“Jenson has the new rear wing on, I have the old. We voted to change, didn’t work out. I lose 0.4 tenths (of a second) just on the straight” was the body of the tweet, but later version substituted “damn” for “WTF”.
“I’d just like to rephrase some things I said..” he later tweeted by way of explanation, but not before the tweet had been read from Sydenham to Sydney and been retweeted. The genie is always out of the bottle, however fast you try to pull it back in.
Social media and the direct contact with fans is a great and powerful tool, but it can also catch you out.
Hamilton has been using increasingly colourful language in his tweets, using the term “mofo” the other day and talking about his “homies”.
Many fans think that this is a very good thing as the drivers’ Twitter feed sits outside of team control and thus has a chance to be the less corporate side of their self-expression. It is considered to be closer to the drivers’ true feelings.
McLaren are one of the most advanced teams when it comes to social media and it’s given them a fresher image as a result, but clearly their intervention today to tone down Hamilton’s tweets was considered necessary, given the blue chip sponsors attached to the team.
Its shows him losing 0.5s in both the high speed sectors 1&2 but what it does not show is that the idea with running a higher downforce wing is that you make up a second in Sector 2. So the lap times end up more or less the same.
This is what happened with Kobayashi and Raikkonen, both of whom are running similar levels to Hamilton.
But mid way through Sunday morning, Hamilton deleted that tweet as well…
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh called it an “error of judgement and confirmed that the team had asked for it to be deleted, while pointing out that he had deleted the Saturday one himself.
“The tweets over the weekend (yesterday) he took down of his own volition. No one spoke to him about it,” said Whitmarsh. “This morning he made an error of judgment and we asked him to take that one down, and he did.”