Lewis Hamilton arrived, smiled, talked and immediately claimed the limelight Thursday when, sporting a mop of newly-dyed blond hair, he warned that Pirelli’s recommendations on tyre pressure for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix could be disastrous.
Two weeks on from winning a thrilling Belgian Grand Prix, punctuated by spectacular tyre failures, ahead of his Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg, the two-time defending world champion made a dramatic entrance at the Autodromo Nazional.
His appearance caught the eye, his body language oozed confidence, and a sense of humour, and his comments raised eyebrows. It remains to be seen if his father and family approve of the new bleached-boy look, trapped albeit beneath a reversed baseball cap.
His hair, or that part of it that was on view, was the first thing to grab the attention as photographers made a trail and cameras whirred.
“I am in an experimental stage of my life,” he explained.
But, the hair, why? He was asked.
“Because I can ” came the response of the man who leads German Rosberg, once teased mercilessly for his natural fair locks, by 28 points.
Hamilton, 30, who has also added another tattoo to his collection, added that his hair colour was “only a short-term solution – so far”.
Team members, who had not seen his hair, were seen staring in surprise. Not since Canadian Jacques Villeneuve gave his hair a similar hue, nearly 20 years ago, has there been such a stir in the paddock.
Speaking to the German media, Rosberg said: “He has been teasing me since I was 14 about the way I swept my hair back. So, I am very surprised “
Rosberg was dubbed ‘Britney’ by the paddock at the height of his hair’s golden fame long before he joined Mercedes and, last weekend, became a father for the first time.
But Hamilton had a serious point to make, too.
Asked about tyres, and specifically Pirelli’s response to the two high-speed blowouts suffered by Rosberg and four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari in Belgium, he – again – stepped out of line.
Where the others had talked of Pirelli’s professionalism and a need to be “moving on,” Hamilton lit a bonfire.
To a suggestion that the recommended ‘starting’ pressure for the racing tyres be raised from the normal pressure of 18 psi to 23, at the front, and 22, at the rear, he reacted with alarm.
“That’s definitely too high and definitely the wrong way to react,” he said. “The wear will be higher and there will be less grip and it could end up in a disaster.
“A couple of psi might be ok, but five or six is too much.”
Earlier, Rosberg and Vettel had accepted a statement explaining the causes of their punctures in Belgium as “going in the right direction”.
Hamilton, in his own individual style, demonstrated, again, as he often does, that he sees it rather differently.
Having won last year’s race, he will on Sunday seek to add to his championship lead by becoming the first driver, since Damon Hill in 1994, to win Monza two years running.
The photographers hope he does – and then takes off that cap. – Agence France-Presse