Lewis Hamilton was encouraged by Mercedes not to delete an Instagram post in which he accused Sky Sports‘ pundits of “undermining” him.
Formula One’s world championship leader criticised elements of the broadcaster’s German Grand Prix coverage after he sealed a famous win from 14th on the grid.
“I find it amazing listening to the ex-drivers commentating [and] not a single one of them could find a good word to say,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram before removing the post.
“Positivity and love wins always no matter what words you use to try and undermine me.”
Nico Rosberg was among Sky’s punditry team for the Hockenheim race, but it is understood that Hamilton’s criticism was not aimed at his long-term rival.
Martin Brundle – who competed in 165 grands prix before establishing himself as television’s voice of F1 for the past two decades – and Britain’s 1996 world champion Damon Hill were both among Sky‘s team in Germany.
“I had a conversation with Lewis about it on Sunday night,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said. “I actually encouraged him to leave all that stuff online.
“Sometimes you let your guard down, and sometimes when you’re at home, you’re exuberant, and you put on the TV to hear a commentator saying negative stuff, and that can get to you.”
Hamilton, who moved 17 points clear of Sebastian Vettel following his extraordinary win, has become increasingly vocal online in recent weeks.
After the British Grand Prix, he issued a series of posts responding to those who had accused him of being a sore loser. In Germany, he published a four-page story to Instagram after he broke down in qualifying.
“Lewis says things like he means it,” Wolff added. “It is great that he wears his heart on his sleeve. We are humans, we have emotions, and we are influenced by what others say.
“I take things personally when perhaps I shouldn’t care about an opinion that is not relevant to me. I should respect that an opinion is different to mine, but that is very hard to do after an exhausting rollercoaster ride of a weekend.
“We need controversies. We need polarising stances. We don’t want to streamline everything.”
Wolff also dismissed the notion that F1 stewards should adopt a version of football’s VAR to speed up their decision-making process.
Hamilton was not declared the official winner until three hours after Sunday’s race following an investigation into his aborted pit stop.
Wolff added: “Do you think the penalty in the World Cup final was right? It is a good example that even though there was the video analysis the referee looked at it three times. Then, you get a 50-50 response as to whether it was a penalty or not.”
Hamilton was reprimanded to avoid a timed penalty, as was handed out to Vettel and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, for their respective collisions with Bottas and Hamilton in the races at France and Silverstone.
“The stewards made the right decision [with Hamilton],” Wolff said. “It was possible that a five-second penalty could have been applied but that wouldn’t have been the right thing for the sport.
“Could you say I was happy with the penalties applied to Sebastian in France, and Kimi at Silverstone? I wasn’t.”
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Hamilton will head into Sunday’s German Grand Prix eight points adrift in the championship standings following the Ferrari driver’s win at Silverstone a fortnight ago.
Vettel celebrated his victory by roaring in Italian over the Ferrari radio: “We are leaving with the British flag to hang at (Ferrari’s headquarters in) Maranello. We have won here at their home.”
Ferrari stoked the rivalry further by headlining their triumphant post-race press release with an ironic play on words. “A hammer blow,” they wrote.
Mercedes’ Formula One operation is based only a stone’s throw from Silverstone, while Hamilton’s comeback drive from last to second – after he was punted off at the first corner by Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – was cheered on by 140,000 British fans.
Responding to Vettel’s radio message, Hamilton said: “I heard something was said, but I see that as an act of weakness. It doesn’t affect me whatsoever. Good for him.
“We will keep our heads down, keep quiet, and focus on doing a better job across the board. That is our approach right now.
“I hope that when we do a good job this weekend, we won’t respond by saying, ‘oh, we did it at his home ground’. That is not necessary.”
Hamilton’s own conscience wasn’t exactly clear in the moments after his defeat at Silverstone. He snubbed an interview with broadcaster Martin Brundle before accusing Ferrari of dirty play.
Hamilton’s wild theory was that Ferrari had hatched a plan to wipe him out of contention by ordering Raikkonen to bang into him on purpose.
A day later, Hamilton admitted he got it wrong, and said sorry to Raikkonen in a series of apologetic posts to his 6.7million Instagram followers.
“Obviously it was silly to say,” Vettel said as he reflected on Hamilton’s accusation. “We are racing and we have all been there. It is never great if you get hit when you have done nothing wrong. It’s two weeks ago. We move on.”
Hamilton and Mercedes moved on by ending the 33-year-old Briton’s long-running contract saga by ensuing his future on the grid for at least another two seasons.
He will be rewarded with an eye-watering £80million, and will once again be partnered by Valtteri Bottas after Mercedes resisted the temptation of signing Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull.
The scars of three years of toxic in-fighting between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg remain too raw, while Bottas has proved an able understudy.
“I am sure for the team there were questions and discussions at lunch,” Hamilton continued. “‘Is he staying? Is he not staying?’ So, now this has been announced it has stopped all of that, and we can now embark on a strong future together.
“I now can put every bit of energy and every bit of thought into this championship. There are no questions lingering around so for the team that is a positive, and we need all the positive energy we can get to fight.
“We’ve not won enough races this year and, at times, we’ve definitely stumbled. A small stumble this year is magnified because it’s so close but I’m super-focused on making sure we get everything and more out of the car, and myself, so we can win this weekend.”
Hamilton finished second in both practice sessions on Friday with Ricciardo, and latterly Max Verstappen, leading the way for Red Bull. Vettel was fourth fastest.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the other British and Irish stars to feature on 2018 Forbes list of the 100 top earners from around the world.
Conor McGregor – £77.5millon (99million US Dollars)
The Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Dublin sits at number four in the Forbes list, which is headed by boxer Floyd Mayweather.
It was his lucrative Las Vegas bout against the American which helped swell the earnings of UFC star, who banked an estimated 85m US Dollars (£66.5m) for the contest.
Although he was defeated, McGregor signed several sponsorship deals around the showdown, from Burger King and Beats by Dre. The 30-year-old Irishman also generates additional revenue from digital ventures such as Conor McGregor‘s FAST extreme performance training plan.
Anthony Joshua – £30.5million (39million US Dollars)
The second-highest earning British sportstar behind Hamilton, who sits 12th with £40m (51m US Dollars), heavyweight boxer Joshua enjoyed a successful, and lucrative, year. His victory over Joseph Parker saw almost 1.5m pay-per-view purchases, with a crowd of some 78,000 packed into Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
The 28-year-old, who won gold at the 2012 London Olympics, is signed up with sponsors such as Under Armour, Jaguar and Lucozade Sport.
In the ring, Joshua can expect another bumper payday from his upcoming fight against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley – with potential money-spinning showdown against WBC champion Deontay Wilder also on the horizon.
Rory McIlroy – £29.5million (37.7million US Dollars)
Golfer McIlroy saw his progress last year hampered by injuries, but continued to be in demand for sponsorship deals, signing a 10-year extension with Nike and a long-term tie-up with TaylorMade – which, according to Forbes, brought in more than his tournament earnings.
McIlroy’s form improved over the early part of 2018, claiming the Arnold Palmer Invitational title in March and then tied fifth at The Masters.
However, the Northern Ireland golfer, 29, went on to miss the cut at both The Players Championship and the US Open, where he carded a first-round of 80.
Gareth Bale – £27million (34.6million US Dollars)
Wales forward Bale, who scored twice as Real Madrid beat Liverpool to win the 2018 Champions League final, has a lucrative contract – reported to be worth some £26m – with the Spanish giants, which is set to run until June 2022.
Bale also has a long-term sponsorship deal with Adidas.
As Wales were not at the World Cup, he also took part in a light-hearted summer advertising campaign for on-line shopping.
Wayne Rooney – £21million (27million US Dollars)
Veteran striker Rooney found himself at 58 in the Forbes list, remaining one of the top-10 highest-earning football players for the 11th year running.
After returning to boyhood club Everton from Manchester United in July 2017, the 32-year-old recently completed a move to Major Soccer League franchise DC United – which is said to be worth some £300,000-a-week as part of a three-year deal.
Rooney has a long-term boot sponsorship deal with Nike.