Former Formula 1 driver John Watson has told Sir Lewis Hamilton to spend “more time in the gym” after he suffered intense back pain during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Mercedes have been struggling to get a handle on “porpoising” this year amid the changes to the technical regulations that have brought in ground effect aerodynamics and subsequent lower ride heights.
The proximity between the floor of the car and the track surface has led to heavy and painful impacts that send shockwaves up the drivers’ spines and necks, while causing nauseating head movements that could potentially lead to concussions.
Hamilton recovered from back pain that was “killing” him in Baku to finish fourth behind team-mate George Russell, who has also been struggling with bouncing, and he has allayed fears that he may miss the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend due to injury.
“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 Instagram.
“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.”
Russell and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz have called on the FIA to tweak the regulations to allow for less “porpoising,” but Red Bull boss Christian Horner sees that as a cynical move.
“I’d tell them to b**** as much as they could over the radio and make as big an issue out of it as they possibly could,” he said, quoted by Motorsport.com.
The reason he has that view is because one of the ways to eradicate “porpoising,” or at least lessen its impact, is to raise the ride height of the car.
In so doing, however, the downforce and overall grip of the car would be affected, leading to awful handling in the corners, so no one wants to do that, but it may have to become a solution for the teams given how much Hamilton struggled in Baku.
The 37-year-old was seen struggling to even get out of his car after the race, and he was holding his back in the media pen after the race.
Watson appeared to have little sympathy for his compatriot though, noting that pain is something that comes naturally with age.
“Lewis needs to be careful not to act like a pantomime dame. It is a very difficult car to drive but at 37 the bones are not as forgiving of an uncomfortable ride,” said the five-time race winner with McLaren.
“This is a whole new world to Lewis. He has had seven or so years when Mercedes have been dominant and it’s perhaps like a seven-year itch.
“George looked pretty fresh afterwards and finished third to Lewis’s fourth.
“Lewis maybe needs to recalibrate and spend less time in the air and more in the gym.”
It is as yet unknown whether the FIA plan to meet with the teams to discuss any regulatory changes to help with bouncing, and Formula1News.co.uk has contacted the governing body for a statement on the issue.