Lewis Hamilton: Toto Wolff says Mercedes driver is 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 due to his car bouncing severely; Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Hamilton is a doubt for next weekend’s Canadian GP, but Red Bull chief Christian Horner has questioned his rival’s claims

Last Updated: 12/06/22 9:59pm

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Lewis Hamilton was clearly in pain getting out of his car after his Mercedes suffered more porpoising issues in Azerbaijan, prompting Toto Wolff to apologise to him

Lewis Hamilton was clearly in pain getting out of his car after his Mercedes suffered more porpoising issues in Azerbaijan, prompting Toto Wolff to apologise to him

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has accused Mercedes of exaggerating Lewis Hamilton’s physical struggles after Toto Wolff declared the Briton a doubt for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Hamilton described Sunday’s Azerbaijan GP as the “most painful” as his career as the combination of Mercedes’ problematic W13 car and the bumpy street circuit left him exposed to severe bouncing.

Before the start of the race, Wolff told Sky Sports F1 he was unsure whether 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 his discomfort during the race and appeared severely hampered as he exited his car afterwards.

“That was the most painful race I have experienced, the toughest race I have experienced,” Hamilton said.

“I am worried for every time we are going to be back in the car

Hamilton says he was praying for the race to end after suffering intense back pain after his Mercedes porpoised during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Hamilton says he was praying for the race to end after suffering intense back pain after his Mercedes porpoised during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Hamilton says he was praying for the race to end after suffering intense back pain after his Mercedes porpoised during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

“There were a lot of 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” at risk of missing the Canadian GP, with back-to-back race weekends proving far from ideal for Mercedes on this occasion.

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

The struggles of Hamilton and other drivers have led to a debate in the paddock as to whether Formula One’s all-new design regulations for 2022 need to be altered to protect the sport’s stars.

“I haven’t seen him or spoken to him afterwards, but you can see this is not muscular anymore,” Wolff said. “This goes properly into the spine and can have some consequences.

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

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

Highlights of the Azerbaijan GP from the Baku City Circuit

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights of the Azerbaijan GP from the Baku City Circuit

Highlights of the Azerbaijan GP from the Baku City Circuit

Horner: Mercedes have a choice

Red Bull have been one of the teams to suffer least from porpoising under the new rules, something which Horner believes they should be rewarded for.

After watching reigning world champion Max Verstappen lead team-mate Sergio Perez to a Red Bull one-two in Baku, Horner offered little sympathy to the team he fought so hard against in last season’s dramatic title battle.

“The easiest thing is obviously to raise a car. So… you know, the team has a choice to do that,” Horner said.

Max Verstappen crosses the finishing line to claim first place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Max Verstappen crosses the finishing line to claim first place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Max Verstappen crosses the finishing line to claim first place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

“You have a choice where you run your car, don’t you? And you should never run a car that’s unsafe. But… I think that’s more for the technical guys – because there’s certain cars that have issues, and there are some cars that have few issues.

“It would seem unfair to penalise the ones that have done a decent job versus the ones that have perhaps missed the target slightly.”

Horner admitted that if he was in Wolff’s position, he would urge his drivers to make as much of the issue as possible.

“I’d tell them to b**** as much as they could on the radio and make as big an issue out of it as they possibly could,” he said. “It’s part of the game.”

Hamilton claimed his car was bottoming dangerously during qualifying in Baku

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Hamilton claimed his car was bottoming dangerously during qualifying in Baku

Hamilton claimed his car was bottoming dangerously during qualifying in Baku

Asked if he thought that was what Mercedes were doing, Horner added: “Of course it is. I mean, look, you can see it’s uncomfortable – but there are remedies to that. But it’s to the detriment of the car performance.

“The easiest thing to do is to complain from a safety point of view – but each team has a choice.

“I think if it was a genuine safety concern across the whole grid, then it’s something that should be looked at. But if it’s only affecting isolated people or teams, that’s something that that team should potentially deal with.”

Hamilton: All the drivers are discussing the problem

Despite Horner’s doubt, both Hamilton and Wolff believe the strength of feeling among the drivers will likely result in action being taken.

Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren has been one of the cars least affected by porpoising this season but he experienced bouncing himself in Baku, publicly expressing his sympathy for the Mercedes drivers and saying he would be willing to help push for changes.

Daniel Ricciardo discusses the porpoising he experienced during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and how it has left him feeling rattled

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Daniel Ricciardo discusses the porpoising he experienced during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and how it has left him feeling rattled

Daniel Ricciardo discusses the porpoising he experienced during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and how it has left him feeling rattled

“All the drivers together are discussing it in drivers’ briefing and ultimately I think none of us want to continue to have the bouncing for the next four years of this regulation,” Hamilton said. “So I am sure the teams will be working on it.”

There was some confusion as to whether Hamilton’s discomfort was caused by porpoising or ‘bottoming’, with the latter being when the bottom of the car makes contact with the ground, as opposed to just general bouncing.

Wolff added: “I think they are very much linked together. We are seeing tracks where we have porpoising and then we have bouncing.

“Some cars are bottoming so it’s not really clear – it’s all interlinked with the aerodynamic performance of the floor.”