World championship leader Lewis Hamilton was conspicuous by his absence Thursday after being granted a waiver by Mercedes and Formula One for his Italian Grand Prix media duties.
The four-time world champion was granted his leave for the day for an "unavoidable personal commitment" according to a Mercedes spokesman.
Hamilton is set to arrive at the Autodromo Nazionale at Monza late Thursday evening ahead of this weekend's potentially-critical race on Ferrari's home soil.
The media schedule for Thursday was issued without Hamilton in the main set-piece pre-race interviews, but his title rival Sebastian Vettel was included ahead of his team's home event.
Hamilton was bitterly disappointed that Ferrari out-powered his Mercedes at last Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix where Vettel was triumphant and the Englishman finished 11 seconds behind him.
Hamilton leads Vettel in the title race by 17 points.