Former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle does not believe Sir Lewis Hamilton will be forced to miss the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend because of his back troubles.
The 37-year-old struggled to get out of his Mercedes on Sunday after he near-unbearable “porpoising” he had experienced throughout the weekend in Baku, and the bouncing caused by the ground effect aerodynamics seemed to be at its worst yet.
The Briton recovered from that to finish the race fourth, but questions have been raised as to whether the current level of bouncing, which is also being felt by Ferrari, is sustainable from a health perspective.
Even more pertinent was the question of whether the seven-time champion would be fit to race in Canada this weekend after the beating he took in the cockpit in Azerbaijan, but Brundle, who has driven more than a few bumpy race cars in his time, reckons he will be fine.
“I would think he would be okay,” he told Sky Sports.
“The seats are really good in cars now. I can remember sitting on the ground to get the centre of gravity as low as possible, that’s why they sit so low down in the cockpit.
“So when the chassis hits the ground as the Mercedes is then you do take some of that shock loading through your spine there is no doubt about it.
“I think they are as good as they could be, and I would be surprised if Lewis missed a Grand Prix because of that. I can see how uncomfortable that particular car is and you wonder how they focus on the breaking point.
“My mind immediately goes to performance and not pain if I am honest, and I think the team are also playing this quite hard in they want some changes made, the drivers want some changes made because Mercedes is particularly bad.
“Some cars are absolutely fine, they don’t bounce at all, porpoising they call it.
“Others bounce a bit, it depends on the circuit. You won’t see it in Monaco or particularly Barcelona, because they aren’t any long straights but you do see it in places like Baku.
“You will see it in Montreal next weekend with some long and fast straights, it is a bit more uneven there as well.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hinted that Mercedes are telling Hamilton and team-mate George Russell to “b****” about the bouncing as much as they can to action change from the FIA.
The idea of that would be to change the regulations to eradicate “porpoising” given that there are health concerns, but the other side of the argument is that Mercedes themselves can do something to get rid of it.
The bouncing is caused by the low ride height of the cars so, if the ride height is raised, there would naturally be less contact between the floor of the car and the track surface.
However, Mercedes will not want to do this, as it would cost them downforce and grip in the corners, losing them lap time and making for an extremely uncomfortable handling experience.
The Silver Arrows face a conundrum in that regard if the FIA do not take action, but the other teams would have a say in that matter, and Brundle reckons their decision would not be favourable for the eight-time champions.
“The teams that have it sorted out are saying ‘That’s Mercedes’ problem, it’s not Formula 1’s problem,’” he added, before remarking that wanting other teams to help them by agreeing to a rule change would be like “asking a turkey to vote for Christmas.”
Amid fear, including from team principal Toto Wolff, that Hamilton may have to miss the Canadian Grand Prix, the Briton took to Instagram to affirm that he will be good to race this weekend.
“Seeing online that a lot of people are concerned about it with how awful it looked out there,” he said.
“It means so much that so many of you are sending love. I’ll be honest it looks terrible and feels 100 times worse.
“Definitely some recovering and hard work with the team to do before Montreal to overcome this hurdle.
“Feeling better already, though, and motivated to keep pushing. See you next week.
“Yesterday was tough and I had some trouble sleeping but I’ve woken up feeling positive today. My back is a little sore and bruised but nothing serious, thankfully,” continued Hamilton.
“I’ve had acupuncture and physio and I am on the way to my team to work with them on improving. There’s no time like the present to pull together, and we will. I’ll be there this weekend.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
While Hamilton finished fourth in Baku, Russell claimed his third podium finish of the season in P3 behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, who earned Red Bull’s second one-two of the season.