Lewis Hamilton: Toto Wolff says Mercedes driver doubtful for Canadian GP with back injury as Christian Horner questions complaints

Lewis Hamilton said Sunday’s Azerbaijan GP was the “most painful” race of his career because his car bounced violently; Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Hamilton is in doubt for next weekend’s Canadian GP, ​​but Red Bull boss Christian Horner has questioned his rival’s claims

Last updated: 06/13/22 10:57 am

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Lewis Hamilton was clearly in pain getting out of his car after his Mercedes had further porpoise problems in Azerbaijan, prompting Toto Wolff to apologize to him

Lewis Hamilton was clearly in pain getting out of his car after his Mercedes had further porpoise problems in Azerbaijan, prompting Toto Wolff to apologize to him

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has accused Mercedes of exaggerating Lewis Hamilton’s physical struggles after Toto Wolff ruled the Brit doubtful for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Hamilton described Sunday’s Azerbaijan GP as the “most painful” of his career as the combination of the troubled Mercedes W13 car and the bumpy road course exposed him to severe shocks.

Before the start of the race, Wolff told SkySports F1 He wasn’t sure Hamilton would be able to complete the full 51 laps due to back pain.

The seven-time World Champion drove impressively to finish fourth, but expressed unease throughout the race and appeared severely crippled when exiting the car.

“It was the most painful race I’ve ever experienced, the toughest race I’ve ever experienced,” Hamilton said.

“I worry every time we get back in the car

Hamilton says he prayed for the race to be over after suffering severe back pain after his Mercedes crashed during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Hamilton says he prayed for the race to be over after suffering severe back pain after his Mercedes crashed during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Hamilton says he prayed for the race to be over after suffering severe back pain after his Mercedes crashed during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

“There were many moments where I didn’t know if I was going to make it, there was one where I didn’t know if I was going to keep it on track.”

Wolff said Hamilton was “definitely” in danger of missing the Canadian GP as back-to-back race weekends on the occasion proved far from ideal for Mercedes.

But Hamilton later hinted he would be in Canada, posting on social media: “Even though it’s painful, we still rise up. Thanks for the love see you next week.”

The struggles of Hamilton and other drivers have sparked a debate in the paddock over whether Formula 1’s all-new design regulations need to be changed for 2022 to protect the stars of the sport.

“I didn’t see or speak to him after that, but you can see that it’s no longer muscular,” said Wolff. “It really gets in the spine and can have some consequences.

“He’s really bad and we just have to find a solution at this stage.

“He’s maybe the worst hit of all the drivers, but pretty much everyone, as far as I understand from the drivers, said something has to happen. I couldn’t explain to you what that is.”

Highlights of the Azerbaijan GP from the Baku City Circuit

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Highlights of the Azerbaijan GP from the Baku City Circuit

Highlights of the Azerbaijan GP from the Baku City Circuit

Horner: Mercedes has a choice

Red Bull were one of the teams to suffer the least from porpoises under the new rules, something Horner believes should be rewarded for doing.

After watching reigning world champion Max Verstappen guide team-mate Sergio Perez to a Red Bull double in Baku, Horner showed little sympathy for the team he fought so hard against in last season’s dramatic title fight.

“Of course, the easiest way is to lift a car. So…you know, the team has a choice,” Horner said.

Max Verstappen crosses the finish line to secure first place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen crosses the finish line to secure first place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Max Verstappen crosses the finish line to secure first place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

“You have a choice where you drive your car, don’t you? And you should never drive a car that is unsafe. But… I think it’s more for the technicians – because there are certain cars that have problems and there are some cars that have little problems.

“It would be unfair to punish those who did a good job versus those who may have missed the mark slightly.”

Horner admitted that if he were Wolff, he would urge his drivers to make as much of the issue as possible.

“I would tell them to fuck as much as they can on the radio and make as big a problem as they can,” he said. “It’s part of the game.”

Hamilton claimed his car was dangerously grounded during qualifying in Baku

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Hamilton claimed his car was dangerously grounded during qualifying in Baku

Hamilton claimed his car was dangerously grounded during qualifying in Baku

When asked if he thinks Mercedes is doing that, Horner added, “Of course it is. I mean, look, you can see it’s uncomfortable – but there’s a remedy for that. But it comes at the expense of car performance.

“The easiest way is to complain from a safety perspective – but every team has a choice.

“I think if it was a real security issue across the grid then it should be looked at. But if it’s just affecting individuals or teams, maybe that team should address it.”

Hamilton: All drivers are discussing the problem

Despite Horner’s doubts, both Hamilton and Wolff believe the strength of feelings among drivers is likely to lead to action being taken.

Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren was one of the cars least affected by porpoises this season, but he suffered an impact in Baku, publicly expressing sympathy for Mercedes drivers and saying he is ready to work towards change.

Daniel Ricciardo talks about the porpoises he witnessed during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and how it upset him

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Daniel Ricciardo talks about the porpoises he witnessed during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and how it upset him

Daniel Ricciardo talks about the porpoises he witnessed during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and how it upset him

“All drivers discuss this together in the drivers’ briefing, and I don’t think any of us want to expect this rule for the next four years,” said Hamilton. “So I’m sure the teams will work on that.”

There was some confusion as to whether Hamilton’s discomfort was caused by porpoises or ‘ground’, the latter being when the bottom of the car touches the ground as opposed to a general impact.

Wolff added: “I think they are very connected. We see tracks where we have porpoises and then we have hops.

“Some cars land on the ground, so it’s not really clear – it’s all related to the aerodynamic performance of the ground.”

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