Lewis Hamilton claims he has shrunk an inch after his agonising back pain in Baku… as he adds that he has also regularly needed to take painkillers for headaches due to the porpoising in his struggling Mercedes this season
- Lewis Hamilton struggled to get out of his car after a painful Azerbaijan GP
- He claims to have shrunk an inch and says he regularly takes painkillers
- The FIA issued a directive before this weekend’s race over the porpoising issue
Lewis Hamilton claimed he has shrunk an inch after his bone-rattling race in Baku a week ago.
The seven-time world champion struggled to climb out of his Mercedes after that bruising ride, using his ‘halo’ device as a crutch during the slow exit manoeuvre.
Speaking ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, on the Gilles Villeneuve track in Montreal where his 22-year-old bones claimed his first pole in 2007, Hamilton said his bucking bronco of a machine has also given him headaches so bad he has regularly taken painkillers this season.
Lewis Hamilton has been struggling physically due to Mercedes’ porpoising issues this year
He struggled to get out of his Mercedes after a painful ride at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
‘In terms of micro-concussions, I have definitely been having a lot more headaches in the past couple of months,’ said Hamilton, who has called for a change in this year’s new regulations to combat ‘porpoising’ — the phenomenon of a car banging hard on its suspension.
‘But I have not seen a specialist about it and have just taken painkillers. So hopefully I don’t have any concussions.’ Turning from brain to back, he added: ‘I feel I’m a little shorter this week. Disc problems are not great, certainly not for longevity.
‘There are things we can do. There is no need for us to have long-term injuries. We need to work closely with the FIA. I don’t think they are complacent.’
Indeed, he’s correct that the governing body have acted with alacrity. They issued a technical directive this week saying they will determine a tolerable level of porpoising.
Hamilton is back on the track this weekend at the place he took his first pole position in 2007
They will start by gathering information during each practice session here this weekend next to the Olympic rowing lake to establish the metric required to do this.
So you might think this is good news for Hamilton. Well, up to a point, Lord Copper!
Most likely, Mercedes will be required to raise their ride height, thus depriving them of pace.
However, Hamilton said on Friday that his car’s floor is already as elevated as its design allows.
Therefore, Mercedes may need to redesign their machine drastically to run higher off the ground.
All this spells trouble for their season, which is already as battered as Hamilton’s back.
Another, less probable scenario, though, is that the FIA decide the best way forward is to rewrite the regulations — such as allowing active suspension, which was outlawed in 1994.
That would render the whole situation fluid and thus provide Mercedes with a chance of redemption.
Hamilton has admitted he has regularly taken painkillers due to headaches this season
That prospect prompted Max Verstappen — who leads the standings by 21 points over his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez eight races into his title defence — into saying: ‘Regardless of whether any changes help us or not, I don’t think it’s correct to change the rules during the year.’
A point Red Bull make is that they have designed a car that is not porpoising. They got it right. Mercedes got it wrong. Suck it up.
Verstappen, sitting next to Hamilton, added: ‘I understand the safety part of it. But talk to every engineer on the paddock — if you raise your car you will have fewer issues anyway. Try to find the limit of what you can cope with in the balance between health and performance.
‘Porpoising is not nice but some teams are able to handle these things better than others. I don’t think we have to over-dramatise what’s happening. We have a lot of smart people in this sport that can get rid of these things.’
He will hope to suffer a lower level of porpoising this weekend than he did back in Baku
Hamilton responded wryly: ‘It’s always interesting seeing people’s perspectives in different lights.’
While Hamilton, 88 points off Verstappen, has no chance of winning the title whatever happens, he will be keen to maintain his record as the only world champion to have won a race in every season of his career.
Seven of his 103 wins have come here in Canada, four of them in the last five years.
His only hope of adding to his success is a freak race. The best chance of that lies in the weather, which is forecast to be changeable over the weekend.
Thunderstorms are a possibility. One broke over the city on Thursday night, delaying several F1 personnel on their flights in. Some were diverted to other airfields.
A priority for Hamilton will be to assert his supremacy over team-mate George Russell, whom he has finished behind in seven of this year’s races, plus in the sprint at Monza.
The two men sat together during a 100-strong team dinner at the Keg steakhouse downtown on Wednesday evening. They are getting on well at the moment. No knives were brandished.
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