Mercedes-AMG F1 team boss Toto Wolff fears Lewis Hamilton’s back problems caused by the W13 F1 car’s aggressive rebound could cause him to miss the Canadian GP the following weekend.
Lewis Hamilton struggled with back issues throughout the Baku race weekend.
Mercedes’ 2022 Formula 1 car – the W13 E-Performance – has been struggling with “bouncing” issues since the start of the season. Almost every team was reporting a problem called “porpoising” in the 1970s, and it’s basically the up and down movement of the car at high speed on straight sections, which is caused by “aerodynamic ground effect”. . ‘ reintroduced to Formula 1 this year after almost 4 decades. Most teams have found solutions to this problem, but they have only succeeded in reducing porpoising to a certain extent, not solving it completely. Ferrari’s solution to this problem has been the most effective, and although the Scuderia Ferrari F1-75 continues to bounce on the straights, it settles dramatically on the corners, thus not dropping performance. .
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While these solutions can give teams the performance they need, they still don’t provide a comfortable ride for F1 drivers, and while this issue is less pronounced at some tracks, it’s very evident at others. One such case was the Baku City Circuit, where due to the bumpy nature of the urban track, F1 cars were bouncing around throughout the Grand Prix weekend. Almost all of the riders reported back issues as their heads and helmets continued to bounce and compress into their spine, with the exception of Fernando Alonso, who this weekend also became the rider to have the intervals the longest between his first and last F1 race at 21 years, 3 months and 8 days.
Lewis Hamilton has been the most vocal about his back issues as the Mercedes W13 is the car most affected by the rebound. The team brought an upgrade to their cars in Spain which greatly reduced the problem, but returned the following race weekend to Monaco and increased in Baku, due to the nature of those tracks . Mercedes team-mate George Russel also reported trouble, but Hamilton seemed to be affected the most, as he exclaimed he was ‘praying for the end’ of the Azerbaijan GP towards the end of the race . “I was holding and biting my teeth from the pain and the adrenaline (helped), I can’t express the pain you feel, especially on the straight here,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 in the post-race media. interviews.
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After the Azerbaijan GP, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also raised concerns about the rebound issues, expecting the FIA to step in and implement a solution across all teams. In theory, Mercedes could simply increase the ride height of their cars to solve the problem, but this will cause a huge loss in performance and allow other teams to move ahead of the Brackley-based team. When Wolff was asked if Hamilton might end up missing the Canadian GP next weekend, he replied “Yeah, definitely. I haven’t seen him and haven’t spoken to him afterwards, but you can see it’s not muscular anymore. . I mean, it goes well in the spine and can have consequences.”
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“We’re just crushing the ground every corner, every lap for an hour and a half is pretty brutal so I’ll sleep well tonight,” Russell told Sky Sports F1. “We just have to deal with it (bounce back) and as drivers accept there won’t be any short term changes. But there are ongoing conversations about the long term future of these regulations. Let’s see We have smart people in this sport so I’m sure we’ll find a solution.” he added.
If Hamilton misses the race, Mercedes will drive its second car with one of its reserve drivers at the wheel. “The solution might be to have someone in reserve, which we have every race anyway, to make sure our cars are running,” Wolff said. Mercedes-AMG F1 currently has 2 reserve drivers, both racing for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team. Stoffel Vandoorne is currently leading the Formula E World Championship and Nyck De Vries won the championship last year. last, and either could get into Lewis’ car if he didn’t recover in time.
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