1996 F1 world champion Damon Hill is concerned that Sir Lewis Hamilton may eventually suffer a concussion as a result of the “porpoising” he is experiencing in his Mercedes W13.
The seven-time champion complained of severe back pain during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as he finished fourth behind team-mate George Russell, who got his third podium of the season.
Both Hamilton and Russell spent the weekend being rattled around the car on the long straights of Baku, and even McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who has not suffered it this season, revealed that he felt the bumps more last weekend than he had during the seven races prior.
Ultimately, the constant impacts on the spine and head are not a sustainable situation for the 37-year-old from a physical standpoint.
“He’s got to drive it and he’s clearly getting stress from doing that,” Hill said during Sky Sports’ coverage of the race.
“The other thing I was thinking about is if you keep doing that to your head all the time, you’re going to get some kind of concussion.
“It’s a mild thing but it’s head banging all the way around the circuit. It’s just not an ideal state of play at all.
“He’s also probably scuffed some skin off his lower back, I should think.”
The W13 is losing around a second on the straights due to the bottoming, but the physical condition of Hamilton and Russell will surely soon become a greater concern for the German outfit.
They can either raise the ride of the car and lose performance in the corners to make the ride more comfortable, or they can continue to petition the FIA and other teams to help them out by changing the regulations.
The latter is highly unlikely, so another former racer, Johnny Herbert, affirms that Mercedes have to do something to fix the problem.
“It’s a horrible frequency [of bouncing] that Mercedes is doing as well compared to a Red Bull,” added the 57-year-old.
“It’s a very, very high-pitched one, and it’s really hammering on that back.
“I agree with Damon, it’s a horrible frequency for the head but also for the back at the same time.
“They [Mercedes] have got to do something. They can’t expect Lewis and George to go through this year suffering the way they are at the moment.”
Russell’s podium in Azerbaijan was his third of the season, and it takes him 16 points clear of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in the battle for fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.