Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

Late-race leg cramp was “excruciating” – Hamilton

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says the cramp he reported in the closing stages of the Portuguese Grand Prix was painful enough to affect his driving.

The Mercedes driver revealed he had “a cramp in my right calf” over the final laps of the race. “I was lifting quite often down the straight because it was pretty painful,” he added, “but I had to somehow get through it because it is what it is, you can’t lift for the whole lap.”

Hamilton isn’t sure what caused the cramp. “I generally didn’t drink a lot today and I remember getting into the car thinking I’m probably going to be dehydrated. I never drink in the race, never. And anyways, I started having small cramp.”

The Autodromo do Algarve offered few opportunities for Hamilton to ease the strain on his leg. “It’s a very physical circuit,” he said, “there’s lots of bumps, undulations, you’re applying the throttle pretty aggressively for pretty much every lap all the way and you never really get to rest.

“I was coming out of the last corner, coming around turn 15 onto the straight and I got the feeling that it was about to pull, like you’re pulling a muscle, and it popped and it hurt so much.

“I had to lift and I didn’t really know what to do, because every time I applied it the pain was there. But of course I can’t stay off the gas, I’ve got to keep going, so it’s just mind over matter, so I just had to keep pushing.”

The pain eventually subsided. “It was pretty excruciating for a couple of laps, but then it started to kind of…. I don’t know whether blood starts rushing to it and the adrenalin takes over but I’ve definitely got a bit of a knot in my knee, my calf.”

Hamilton said he would have the cramp looked at after the race by his trainer Angela Cullen, who has treated other drivers on the grid including Max Verstappen. “Angela is a real physio,” he said. “A lot of trainers here claim they are real physios but they are not – most of them aren’t physios.”

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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    31 comments on “Late-race leg cramp was “excruciating” – Hamilton”

    1. It must have pushed his leg really hard towards the gas pedal, that’s for sure.

    2. I don’t know how pulled off the victory. Especially with his tyres being in such bad shape.

      1. Max should be asking the same question. If he is to improve he needs to understand why he is so deficient in skills in comparison to Hamilton.

      2. As usual, he managed to take the tyres through the graining phase better than the others in changeable conditions. Surprised you have never noticed before as he just adjusts his driving to spread the load evenly across all four tyres during the lap until the tyres clean up.
        Not something Max or Bottas are that good at; although in Max’s case it could be the car?
        Russell said a couple of races ago he took advice from Hamilton on it, and he seems to be working for him as well.

        1. I think the key to Hamilton managing his tires was actualy driving behind the leaders. On this unfamilar tack its so much harder to judge your breakng points, there are so many blind spots. Those leading cars were flat spotting their tires early on, misjudging their breaking. By driving just behind the leaders, he can see where they are applying the breaks and prepare for that. His tires were in a better position when he’d become more familar with the track. I don’t know if giving up the lead was a choice or a miscalculation, but it certainly paid off for him.

        2. You can’t compare the RBR to the Merc. Max has to drive at 100% while Hamilton can cruise around at 95%.

          1. Stop being silly, you just embarrass yourself.

          2. The greats like Hamilton and Schumacher always have extra capacity. So Max need to reach that point.

      3. @David Bondo

        Don’t you know? Apparently it’s not just Merc favouring Hamilton, even Pirelli give him special tyres. It’s an outrage I tell you, outrage.

    3. Bono, my legs are gone.

    4. In my local country, one of the pundits explained in the post race show had experienced it before. Said it was bloody painful in such a cramped cockpit.

      1. in addition to the G forces you’re experience

      2. Yes, Coultard said on C4 its not uncommon and you just have to live with it. I would imagine the engineers would have been scratching their heads and panicking about the throttle trace until Ham told them what the issue was.

    5. Lewis could have probably stopped for a 5 minute physio break and still got back to the front and won. He is inevitable like Thanos.

      1. Hahahahahah…good one.

    6. Grain of salt.

    7. Curious, I get the same cramp only when I’ve been doing something really easy, like waking up after a nights sleep. Is the Mercedes that easy to drive?

      1. @frasier Perhaps the real question is: are you really that old, to catch a cramp from merely waking up? :)

        1. @riggerus probably true, but it’s not a recent thing with me, nor is it common, something to do with salt deficiency IIRC. It just amazes me that he bothered to mention it at all, was the driving really that easy that he has time to make idle conversation about something Bono had no chance to do anything about ;-)

          1. I would think Bono and co would want to know why he was easy on the throttle down the straight, wouldn’t you?

            1. Ian Dearing, you think he couldn’t push a DBW throttle pedal? Seriously?

            2. Couldn’t? The fact is he didn’t push it to the floor, but eased off down the straight because of the cramp. Why part of that confuses you?

            3. Ian Dearing. The part where it wasn’t reported that that happened on C4, or at least if it was I wasn’t concentrating, understandable given the race had assumed its normal predictable pattern.

            4. Ian Dearing. OK, I’ve just read the story accompanying crampgate (doh) above where Lewis explains his pain threshold was being challenged. Must be an absurdly stiff throttle spring to cause that much of a problem.

              Or could it be that the need to make it sound more of a problem than it actually was kicked in during the interview…? I’ve also looked at the facts. There was no noticeable time lost by Hamilton to Bottas or Verstappen according the lap charts, so methinks he protests too much.

            5. And methinks you just skip one reason to another as each of your issues with Hamilton are knocked down as being nonsense. And your fixation with how much resistance the pedal has in the relation to cramp shows your lack of knowledge about cramp in the sporting arena, and how to alleviate it. Still according to what you believe cramp happens when you are taking it easy. Must be a lot of sportsman out there taking it easy when they are trying to win. And every sports physio out there must be doing the wrong thing to alleviate it.
              But at least you tried this time. It’s a marked improvement on your usual puerile remarks about Hamilton.

      2. @frasier Err, that’s dehydration, try drinking some water or lowering the ambient temperature if you’re sweating while asleep.

        1. @david-br err, perhaps I know this, the salt thing? But thanks for the advice, not that it occurs often enough to be a bother :) Must be a slow day..

          1. @frasier OK! You never know if people know… I get that sometimes too. :)

          2. For what its worth Frasier, I suffered badly with the same wake up cramp in the calf . Extremely painful. I now take 1 Magnesium tablet, available over the counter at your chemist, every day. I have had 1 cramp in 3 years of taking them. Previously 3-4/week. Good luck!

    8. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      26th October 2020, 13:57

      Must be the reason why he put such a gap on his teammate so he could get out of the car quicker, lol. Joke aside, he was a class of his own in this race. Very impressive. Wonder if it was a pressure point issue since it was commented on so early in the race.

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