Azerbaijan GP – For Lewis Hamilton, fourth place and a stewed back: “I prayed it would end”

Parked in the parc fermé, he pulls together twice to leave his seat. He ends up sitting on the halo, his right hand on his lower back. Aided by a member of the Mercedes team, he has all the trouble in the world to free himself completely from his single-seater. The fluorescent yellow helmet tinged with purple doesn’t deceive the pilot’s identity: it is indeed Lewis Hamilton.

The seven-time world champion took 4th place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon and finished behind his teammate George Russell thanks to a nice maneuver on Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri). But this amazing performance at the wheel of a ill-born single-seater has a price: it left him in a pitiful condition, plagued by massive back pain, which he announced on the radio on lap 29.

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“It was the most physical race I have ever driven in my life. I had never felt such pain in a car. The races are physical, but this time I bit my tongue to control the painhe explained to our colleagues from Channel+later recognizing that the adrenaline made him see the checkered flag and that he “prayed that the race would end”

Russell raises a question of “safety”

It is not necessary to dwell on the cause of this discomfort, amplified or not: porpoises. If the other teams are still more or less affected, the W13 was shuffled all weekend in Azerbaijan. The phenomenon of violent and continuous rebounds has cost the Silver Arrows “more than a tenth” in the only avenue des Pétroliers, bumpy section of 2,200 meters. Most of all, he caused terrible pain in Hamilton.

After the qualifications, the native of Stevenange had confided all the evil that gnawed at him: “God bless Angela (Cullen, his physical therapist). Luckily she offers me physiotherapy and acupuncture sessions every evening. This morning (Saturday)I woke up in a lot of pain.

Also porpoises in the other Mercedes, George Russell took over the subject. The president of the F1 Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) has sounded the alarm and called in the FIA. The safety of the pilots is at stake, he says: “I think it’s only a matter of time before something important happens. Drivers can barely see where to brake at the end of the straight because of the bounce. It’s not just our team. Many of us can barely see the car keep these bumps straight. In Baku you go through the last two corners scraping the ground at 300 km/h!”

Lewis Hamilton in Baku

Credit: Getty Images

Horner approves Wolff. off

Russell was joined by Toto Wolff, who again apologized to Hamilton for leaving him such a car to drive. “These regulations will follow us for many years to come. Now is the time to say that this is a real problem for the drivers’ physical condition. It’s not just our position.”assured the boss of Mercedes at the microphone of air sports† An opinion that his counterpart at Red Bull, Christian Horner, does not share: “The easiest decision to counter porpoises is to raise the ride height. The team has a choice.”

Despite these difficulties, the German team took advantage of the facts of the race to score 27 points and return to Ferrari’s 38 units. George Russell’s third podium of the season has helped a lot. The young Englishman is maximizing the potential of his W13 and has finished in the Top 5 in all his races.

Hamilton, fourth and chosen driver of the day, opted for different settings this weekend to correct the Silver Arrows’ deficiencies. While Wolff questioned his presence in Montreal next week, the seven-time world champion for his part said he would be at the factory on Monday. “find solutions”.

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