Sir Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he wondered if he could get to the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday while he was suffering severe back pain as a result of “porpoising.”
Mercedes’ bouncing issue seemed to be aggravated last weekend due to the low ride height of the cars caused by the new technical regulations, and even McLaren and Red Bull, who have not typically had the issue this year, were being shaken around a little.
Hamilton finished the race fourth behind team-mate George Russell and, in a bid to understand where the bouncing is coming from and how to stop it, Mercedes split the set-ups between their drivers.
In the end, the “experimental” suspension on the seven-time champion’s car appeared to make things even worse.
“That was the most painful race I have experienced, the toughest race,” said Hamilton.
“George didn’t have the same bouncing that I had, he had a lot less bouncing. I had an experimental part on the car and a different rear suspension. Ultimately, it was the wrong one.”
Hamilton was struggling so much with the incessant bottoming that his physical condition became a real concern during the race.
“There were a lot of moments where I didn’t know if I was going to make it [to the end],” added the 37-year-old.
“The battle with the car was intense. The thing was bouncing so much that there were so many times that I was nearly going into the wall, so that was a concern, safety-wise.
“At 180 miles per hour, smashing into the wall, I don’t think I’ve really ever had to think about that too much as a racing driver.”
The Mercedes driver estimated that they are losing about a second on the straight to Ferrari and Red Bull because of the turbulence so, if they phase that out, he and Russell will have a great race car underneath them.
“There is so much potential in this car but we can’t unlock it at all until we stop this bouncing, I’d do anything to avoid having that,” continued Hamilton.
There were fears that Hamilton may be forced to miss this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix because of his back pain, but he took to Instagram to assure fans that he will be there.
“It 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,” he said on his story.
“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.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner appeared to have little sympathy, claiming that the Silver Arrows have told Russell and Hamilton to “b****” as much as possible to galvanise the FIA into changing the regulations to eradicate “porpoising.”