Lewis Hamilton has offered a staunch defense of Sebastian Vettel following the Ferrari driver's costly error in Suzuka, insisting the German driver deserves "a little more respect" from the media.
Vettel's bold move on the inside of Max Verstappen in the early stages of last Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix ended with the Ferrari and its driver spinning out of contention.
In a message posted on his Instagram account on Tuesday, Hamilton underlined the immense difficulty for any driver to perform consistently at the highest level without making mistakes.
"I feel the media need to show a little more respect for Sebastian," Hamilton wrote.
"You simply cannot imagine how hard it is to do what we do at our level, for any athlete at the top of their game that is.
"It is to be expected that being humans we will make mistakes but it is how we get through them that counts."
Vettel defended his move against Verstappen in Sunday's race and took a leaf out of the great Ayrton Senna's book of racing when he said: "If I don't go for that gap and the gap is there, I might as well stay at home…"
In Suzuka, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agreed with that principle, and also defended Vettel.
"I’m not sure it was his mistake," said the Austrian.
"Sebastian recovered well from his starting position and at that stage was a solid fourth.
"As a racing driver you either have to go for it or not and the door looked open. He gave it a go but a racing incident caused him to drop all the way back."