Concerns were raised after Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix about whether or not Lewis Hamilton will be able to race in Montreal a week later.
The seven-time world champion gingerly climbed out of his car following his fourth-place finish, clutching his back. Hamilton revealed to Sky Sports after the race that he couldn’t “express the pain that you experience, particularly on the straight here” and he was “praying” for the Grand Prix to end. Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1 that the Mercedes driver was “definitely” at risk of missing the Canadian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton, though, shared a tweet on Sunday that at least seemed to confirm he will be at the race, saying, “Even when it’s painful, still we rise. Thanks for the love, see you all next week.”
A larger debate about the safety concerns has been brewing in the paddock, especially in Azerbaijan when the bouncing seemed to escalate not just for Hamilton but other drivers. George Russell went as far as calling the current regulations “a recipe for disaster.”
F1’s new technological regulations allow the cars to follow each other more closely, but in an effort to maximize performance, the cars run closer to the ground to help with the efficiency of underfloor aerodynamics.
Daniel Ricciardo said he was left “rattled” because of the bouncing, adding that it felt like “being dribbled by [basketball star] Stephen Curry.” Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly said for the FIA to “save us from ending up with a cane at 30 years old.”
“It’s not healthy, that’s for sure,” Gasly said, per Autosport. “I’ve had a physio session before and after every session, just because my [spinal] discs are suffering from it. You have literally no suspension. It just hits going through your spine.
“The team is asking me, ‘OK, we can compromise the setup?’ and I’m compromising my health for the performance. And I’ll always do it, because I’m a driver and I always go for the fastest car I can. But I don’t think FIA should put us in a corner where you got to deal between health and performance.”
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz raised the issue last month ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. He revealed to Autosport that he, too, is “already feeling” the effects of the suspension and porpoising.
“I think the regulations are great. They’re doing exactly what we need it for racing. But do we need to run as stiff for our necks and back as we are having to run lately, with this car mass? For me, it’s more a philosophical question that I put out there, maybe for F1 and everyone to rethink about how much the driver needs to actually pay a price in his career with his health, in order to combat this.”
Sainz added that he has “done my usual checks on my back, neck tightness, and I see this year I’m tighter everywhere. I don’t need expert advice to know that 10 years like this it’s going to be tough, and you’re going to need to work a lot in mobility, flexibility.”
Wolff said to Sky Sports F1 on Sunday, “I haven’t seen [Hamilton] or spoken to him afterwards, but you can see this is not muscular anymore. 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.”