Mie Prefecture: Lewis Hamilton cut a surly figure in Suzuka Thursday, fiddling with his phone during a news conference and complaining a higher power caused his dramatic engine fire in Malaysia last weekend.
As his Sepang victory hopes went up in smoke, the world champion seemed to blame a Mercedes conspiracy against him in a furious rant. "Someone doesn`t want me to win this year," he fumed
The Briton, who has seen Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg open a 23-point lead with five races left this season, has since gone to great lengths to deny any suggestion of skullduggery, posting several photos on social media praising his "awesome car crew."
By Thursday, Hamilton was blaming God for his mechanical issues -- claiming that was what he meant all along.
"It hasn`t changed, nothing`s changed," he sniffed.
"It appears currently the `guy above` doesn`t really want me to win right now. But I`ve made a point on my Instagram so I don`t really have much more to say about it."
A distracted Hamilton played with his phone throughout the press conference. He took a selfie and photos of fellow drivers on mobile application Snapchat, giving himself bunny ears and Toro Rosso`s Carlos Sainz 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 a long, long time and it`s the same each time. We`ve got to keep adding new things to it."
And then he elaborated on his sudden charm offensive since rowing back on Sunday`s outburst. "I`ve been planning to do it for a while, so it just turned out to be the appropriate time to do it," Hamilton 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.
After the dust settled last weekend, Hamilton posted on his Instagram account: "I have 100 percent 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.
"They have the right to their own opinions," he added. "But as you`ve seen from my post, you`ve seen how passionate I am about this team and about my guys."