Starting off with his Friday practice crash at the Degners, Hamilton then incurred a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, and then lost third gear during the race that saw him surrender fourth place to team-mate Jenson Button.
It seems that the Japanese Grand Prix organisers were perhaps trying to test Hamilton’s sense of humour as well, with the assignment of the car to chauffeur him around the circuit for the pre-race Drivers’ Parade.
While his chief title rivals – and indeed much of the grid – were perched in stately Rolls Royces, classic Ferraris, Corvettes, Jaguars and Caterhams, Hamilton was given a tiny three-wheeled 1950s Messerschmitt KR175, better known as a ‘bubble car’.
Powered by a 173cc engine and steered by motorcycle handlebars, it is also started using a pull-rope.
Fortunately the 2008 World Champion saw the funny side in all of this, snapping pictures of the little car with his mobile phone – not doubt to the approval of McLaren’s title sponsor, Vodafone – once the very slow lap had come to its tortuous conclusion!
[Original image via Sutton Images]