Lewis Hamilton has called on the media to show title rival Sebastian Vettel "a little more respect" following the implosion of the Ferrari driver's championship challenge.
Hamilton stands on the brink of a fifth world championship after a remarkable run of six victories from the past seven races. His stellar form in that period has coincided with a string of mistakes from Ferrari and Vettel, most recently at the Japanese Grand Prix, where the team botched its qualifying strategy on Saturday and the driver collided with Max Verstappen on Sunday.
Many believe Vettel would be winning the championship -- or at the very least be much closer in the fight -- with more consistency. Until recently Ferrari appeared to have the quickest car on the grid, but failed to capitalise.
Hamilton has likened this year's championship to a "psychological war" between F1's two leading teams, but has also said he wishes the fight had continued to the final round in Abu Dhabi. On Tuesday morning, the Englishman posted to his Instagram story in defence of Vettel.
He wrote: "I feel the media need to show a little more respect for Sebastian. 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."
Latest Instagram post from Lewis is in defence of Vettel.... pic.twitter.com/SN6yR8VXQl— Nate Saunders (@natesaundersF1) October 9, 2018
Hamilton can clinch the title at next weekend's U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, if he wins and Vettel finishes third or worse.