Lewis Hamilton kicked off his weekend at Suzuka with a crash.
With big rain clouds reportedly on the horizon, the McLaren driver lost valuable dry track time at the Japanese circuit on Friday morning.
Repeating a common error by F1 drivers at Suzuka, Briton Hamilton ran wide at Degner and hit the barriers at the other side of the notoriously small gravel trap.
It caused big damage to the left side of his MP4-25, but arguably bigger damage in the eyes of the media, after promising reporters on Thursday that he would be pushing hard after crashing out of the last two grands prix.
The Daily Express headline read “Hamilton will not go easy”, the Guardian said the 2008 champion had vowed “to go hell for leather” at Suzuka, and the Daily Mail said he pledged to “go over the edge” this weekend.
Indeed, the 25-year-old had insisted he would maintain his aggressive style even though two consecutive crashes at Monza and Singapore have dented his championship chances.
“If you are walking down the street and you keep tripping over the sole of your shoe because it keeps flapping, then you change your shoe,” said Hamilton on Thursday.
“I haven’t got anything that is flapping off.”
Former F1 driver BBC radio commentator Anthony Davidson said Hamilton’s practice crash is a setback that he will recover from.
“It’s not a great position to be in,” he said. “Lewis has to get himself out of this downward spiral. As a racing driver you can get yourself worked up and it can become a vicious circle.
“But he’s made mistakes like this before and he’s picked himself up. I am sure he will do that again.”
McLaren reserve driver Gary Paffett added: “It’s not the best thing to do because obviously you lose dry testing time but Lewis looked pretty fast before he crashed and he’ll be encouraged by that.”
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