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Formula 1: Hamilton: Mercedes causes back pain

This radio message to Lewis Hamilton speaks volumes: “Lewis, we know it’s a bit like driving a shitty box. Sorry about your back. We’ll sort that out,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff radios his superstar on the slowdown lap in Baku Cockpit.

The TV cameras then show Hamilton barely getting out of the silver arrow in parc fermé, obviously in a lot of pain. The reason: The extreme hopping of the Mercedes is mainly on the back. Hamilton complained about this several times over the radio during the race.

“It is said to be up to 6g (six times the body weight, ed.) that affect the driver,” Toto Wolff raised the alarm after the race in Baku really into the spine and hips. In addition, it has an impact on the head as well.”

The result: Hamilton shows up in the TV interviews after crossing the finish line. “It was the most painful race I’ve ever experienced. There were many moments when I didn’t know if I could continue or even keep the car on the road. A few times I almost lost control at top speed. The Fighting with the car was intense.”

Problems getting out: back patient Hamilton


It’s now time for the Brit to act: “It’s definitely a safety risk. As a racing driver, I’ve never had to deal so much with being able to fly off at 300 km/h. That was a very unpleasant experience,” says Hamilton and adds with regard to bouncing: “All pilots talk about it in the drivers’ briefing. We don’t want to go on with it for four years (until the next rule change; ed.). The teams have to work on it.”

Hamilton gets encouragement from his colleagues: McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo reports after the race in Baku that he now feels “like a basketball” because of the hopping.

Sebastian Vettel also sees the rule makers of the premier class as responsible: “We have to find a solution. Of course you can say: ‘Just change the setup.’ But we shouldn’t hold ourselves accountable, we should react with the rules. It can’t be that we’ve been driving around like this for four years now.”

Alone: ​​Ironically, the battered Mercedes team proves in Baku that changes to the settings and minor modifications to the cars do make a big difference. The fact that Hamilton, according to team boss Wolff, is “worst of all drivers” by jumping also makes the record world champion prick up his ears. Because Hamilton noticed: “George (Russell, teammate; ed.) had a lot less bouncing than me. Yesterday I lost three and a half tenths to him only on the straights.”

Third place: George Russell races to the podium in Baku


Hamilton jokes: “Of course he also has a back that is over ten years younger than mine.” But then the Brit mentions an explosive detail: “I had an experimental part on my car and a different rear wheel suspension (than Russell; ed.) – apparently the wrong one, as you could see…”

In Baku, Hamilton once again had to admit defeat to his stable colleague, who was 13 years his junior: while Russell raced onto the podium in third place after the Ferrari double failure, Mercedes’ superstar had to settle for fourth place. For the seventh straight season, Russell finishes ahead of Hamilton in the race, ending Nico Rosberg’s record streak as a Hamilton teammate between the 2015 Mexico GP and the 2016 Russian GP.

Hamilton’s statements put these numbers in a different light, at least on Sunday. Russell himself conceded after the Grand Prix that Hamilton isn’t concerned at all with the results at the moment: “He’s much more focused on solving the problems with the car than just maximizing results at the weekend or concentrating on driving.” , reveals the new addition to the team.

That’s why Russell is far from writing off his compatriot: “I know how strong Lewis is. When we’ve sorted out the car, he’ll be a completely different beast. Then we’ll see the real Lewis Hamilton again.”

Lewis Hamilton fights his way up to fourth place in Baku


The fact that the seven-time world champion has fully accepted the role of experienced team leader behind the scenes is also shown by the fact that he no longer minces his words when it comes to the engineers: “Our car simply looks very different from all the other cars. We have to see if we’re really going in the right direction with that,” Hamilton questions the narrow waist of his Silver Arrow in Baku.

He has the backing of team boss Wolff: The Austrian assures that there will be no vanity in the course of troubleshooting the much-criticized W13 from the otherwise accustomed car manufacturer from Stuttgart: “We look at all possible solutions. There are no sacred cows. If If the problems cannot be solved in the short term because they are conceptual, then we will solve them over the next few months,” explains Wolff.

The only question is whether the back of noble test driver Hamilton will play along for so long…

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