Hamilton suspects he has Long Covid symptoms after “battle” with health

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton revealed he has been struggling with his fitness after being diagnosed with Covid-19 last November.

The Mercedes driver appeared in poor condition on the podium after today’s race at the Hungaroring and missed the beginning of the post-race press conference while he was attended to by a doctor.

“I had real big dizziness and everything got a bit blurry on the podium,” Hamilton explained when he later joined the press conference. “I’ve been fighting all year with staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year. It’s a battle.”

Hamilton is one of six F1 drivers to have tested positive for Covid-19. He missed the Sakhir Grand Prix last year while isolating from the rest of the paddock.

He admitted he has struggled with his health since returning to racing. “I haven’t spoken to anyone particularly about it, but I think it is lingering,” he said.

“I remember the effects of when I had it and training’s been different since then. The levels of fatigue you get is different and it’s a real challenge, as I said, so I’m just continuing to try and train and prepare the best way I can.”

He added the symptoms he experienced in Hungary were worse than what he had felt earlier in the year. “Today, who knows what it is, maybe it’s hydration, I don’t know, but I’ve definitely not had that experience,” he said. “I had something similar, in Silverstone but this is way worse.”

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2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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57 comments on “Hamilton suspects he has Long Covid symptoms after “battle” with health”

  1. Glad he’s decently alright, though.

    1. I was surprised he was not assisted sooner whilst on the podium. Fainting and falling has its risks at any age. I hope his overall fitness improves as soon as possible. Same for all who have fallen ill to Covid.

      1. Yes, it was surprising no one there seemed to notice. It is a bit worrying that he was dizzy. From the way he spoke it sounds as though he hasn’t fully recovered from when he got infected last year.

      2. To ..F1
        Am I right to say he’s was not feeling well before the race and yet he l
        Still raced putting other’s life in danger and waking about with no mask

        .last year he was giving it keep your mask on and stop the spread of Covid-19

        Reply moderated
        1. He and the rest of the F1 paddock are tested very regularly to ensure any cases isolate as appropriate.

          Long Covid is not infectious. It is the damage left behind to your body’s functions after the virus has been defeated. Some people can get quite serious long Covid symptoms even after suffering mild symptoms from the infection itself (although it is more common in those who suffered with more severe Covid symptoms during their infection).

  2. Proof (if it were needed) that if can aflict anyone, even the strongest/fittest among us. We all know what to do.

    1. @timeslides
      That’s why it is utterly scary but the flat earthers would still disagree with you. Hamilton is well known to be very fit and healthy indeed. I have lots of family members and friends who are still suffering from post Covid symptoms. Hope he and all the ones affected recover permanently from it.

      1. Don’t forget there is also the well documented evidence of those from African decent being more severely affected. I’ve never seen Hamilton like that. Hope he manages to overcome the symptoms with time!

  3. Doesn’t surprise me. He often comes out of the car like he has barely even his heart rate. He really didn’t look ok today and I’m surprised someone didn’t come to aid him. The way he held the champagne and the trophy, he looked utterly spaced out. Even my wife was saying he looked like he was about to faint

    1. *even risen his heart rate

  4. Its called the Alonso effect :P (just a joke, chill out Lewis fans :P)

    1. Possibly, as Alonso said he was suffering after the race as well. :) Ocon said in the presser that he was struggling too.
      As someone on Sky said after the race, most of the time you are in management mode out there, but Hamilton spent the entire race setting the fastest laps he could.

    2. Alson at 40 is refered to some as an old man, but Hamilton isn’t that far behind him at 36.

      If i had to guess i’d say Hamilton wasn’t as hydrated in that race as he ought to be, maybe forgot to drink throughout the race. Also feeling faint is usually related to low blood preassure. But yeah, time marches on… F1 with its higher G-forces is a sport for younger drivers.

  5. COVID is weird. Sometimes it doesn’t effect a 60 year old that much. They don’t feel anything and sometimes it effects a young athlete so much that it becomes life threatening. There are some MMA fighters, who had COVID and they complained of severe health issues. One would imagine the tough and super fit athletes would be fine even if they get COVID but that isn’t the case.

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      1st August 2021, 20:09

      Simply put, it’s a lung infection that restricts oxygen getting into the system. If you look at lungs with it, it looks a bit like a fungus covering it. No matter how fit you are, if you can’t get oxygen in your blood its very hard to operate at a high level. As to why some are more effected, i don’t think we know, but hopefully we will find those answers soon and help them.

      1. It seriously affects the lungs, but is really an affliction of the walls of blood vessels. That’s how it can affect so many organs. Lungs, brain, pancreas, heart, pretty much anything. I have a friend who is an endocrinologist who tells me that COVID-19 can even exacerbate diabetes.

      2. It’s not just lungs but also heart that gets affected which leads to further issues. I had muscle fatigue for 3 months post recovery and have joint pain which still hasn’t gone down. Also thanks to Covid my blood sugar levels have gone up which aren’t coming down to pre Covid levels(I am under strict diet and workout regimen). One of my batchmates who got Covid has suffered degraded vision and has breathing trouble even after 3 months.

      3. Covid can hurt your respiratory and cardiovascular system. My wife took care of a teenager who had heart damage he may never recover from.

    2. @amg44 Exactly, I know a few people over 70 who had Covid, pre-vaccine, who do little exercise but had virtually no symptoms, another around Lewis’s age who is fit and active and she’s had a list of long-Covid symptoms, mostly neurological (concentration), fatigue, aches and so on months after. I’m not sure how this is going to pan out for Hamilton for the rest of the season, it doesn’t seem something easy to treat or that goes away soon.

  6. Irregardless of possible long COVID, it should be said Hamilton was lapping way quicker than rest of the field for most of the race. Due to the car difference & also difference in tyres which he had fresher in almost any stage of the race than any other driver, he has been basically carrying more speed (and thus G-loads) in fast corners. He has basically erased 30 sec gap to leaders on track + absolved another pitstop -> therefore almost one minute of extra lap-time he extracted from that car. No surprise he was exhausted.

  7. Yes, he seemed to be really tired, and that happened some other at this season too, and this time it was even worse.
    Probably he is genetically not lucky, and covid hit him harder than it would be expected at a top athlete. When he was recovering from covid he barely posted on social media, which is a quite unusual of him, and it maybe hints on that he was hit by the illness more than expected.

    Although the battle with Alonso was one of the best battles for a long while, that could have been tiresome by itself, and the endgame was very exciting after that too, even as a spectator.
    I guess, after this he will be medically checked a bit more, and hopefully he will be ok. I think at this level athletes are quite often checked anyway, so hopefully it is nothing unexpected or bad.

    At his earlier years I was a fan of him, and maybe this vaned a bit, and now I would like to see the success of many from the young generation, and the story going forward, but obviously I wish Lewis the best, and I would like to see his nice abilities shown against these youngsters in battles like today for a good while.

    1. As someone else said, Alonso hasn’t had a better defence since spygate.

    2. There are other possibilities. What about burn out? The man has been under a lot of pressure lately. He can say that criticisms strengthes him, but he is just a man like any other. Could be that things are getting too much for him. I wonder if he wil finish the season, regardless if he has a Covid related problem or an other mental/physical problem.

      1. Jockey Ewing
        2nd August 2021, 0:50

        Mostly agreed. I think many things can cause stress, or burning out. And yes, if a professional athlete has some kind of stress related problem, which becomes this apparent, then that will be hard to completely overcome, as they are likely already very very trained and regularly helped in this field. The Hintsa training is likely very good, likely much more than what we can learn from books, or at the village’s yoga club :) so it is hard if that was not enough. If Kimi retires, he maybe could become a fairly unique mental coach :)

        For example stress because:
        – He was not challenged at every race by a competitor who is not the teammate for a while. The challenge between teammates are often clamped down at least a bit by the team bosses for the sake of results, and team integrity. It can be demanding as he is not super young now (I’m at about the same age btw), but he can get used to it again, and take it easier :) It is easier to meet new challenges at younger age, but the likes of Hamilton and Alonso have met most of F1’s challenges already.

        Actually racing the teammate too hard can compromise both drivers’ strategy. For example at Max’s win at one of the Silverstone races of last season it was partially the case, Max had the tyre advantage (iirc coming from the Q2 tyre rule, and because the softer compounds were selected for that race, what fitted RB more), despite of it Bottas and Hamilton went a bit yolo and were fighting against each other at the early stages of the race for long laps, while Max was closing the gap behind them.

        For example burning out:
        Imo there can be many reasons of it. He already achieved a lot, this covid era made him reevaluate life, and it is hard to forget the second thoughts, like “it would be nice to do something else what also interests me”, “I always wanted to be a racing driver, but is the direction towards F1 going was my childhood dream?” even as a professional.
        Likely most drivers would like to have nimbler, more raw cars and better racing in consqeuence for example.
        Even the one season delaying of the new aero formula can cause boredom for these sportsmen.

        Or being overmanaged by the team also can cause burnout. I can not decide for example whether Hamilton would have liked Russell to join the team earlier. As I like competitive things, I would take the challenge, even if I will not win any further titles, as it would be nice towards my fellow countryman as well. But if the management does not want that, and does some kind of overnursing, to write a bit more history together because of the return of investment and because the current formula is proven, that can be boring.

  8. Thanks to all who posted before me. Regardless of our preferred team/driver, these posts showed the kindness and humanness in us. We wish Hamilton well.

    Reply moderated
  9. This is horrible. He’s been performing pretty amazingly considering how physical F1 is. I was shocked to see him almost doubling up on the podium. Here’s hoping the summer break gets him ready for an awesome title battle.

    1. Bruno Verrari
      1st August 2021, 21:12

      He could take the rest of the season off, to get well?!

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        1st August 2021, 22:56

        Horner will pay for any vacation Lewis asks for :-)

      2. He is. Couple of weeks feet up in his home in Colorado, then going on a road trip. Starting in Belgium I believe?

    2. Watching hamilton suffering in the podium, with big difficulties at rising up the trophy, and barely breathing as well, all that suddenly remembered me of Ayrthon at interlagos 1991. I think we should take the physical effort of F1 drivers in a higher consideration. In particular Lewis had a very tough one today, with all that quick laps in a row (he went over 8-9 seconds in the last 3 laps, finishing just 0.5 seconds behind Vettel, which is simply incredible). All best wishes to him, I’m a Ferrari fan but I’ve no doubt at saying that he’s definitely the best driver of (at least) the latter two F1 gens.

      Reply moderated
    3. I’ve been suspicious of his health since winter testing– he just seemed a bit… “off”. I’ve been watching him race since 2009, and he just hasn’t been quite the on-track monster he’s been in prior seasons.

      I had a very minor episode of covid in April 2020, and it definitely had lingering effects. Nothing severe, but noticeable.

      1. Commentators have said a number of times during races this season that Hamilton sounded “short of breath” on team radio.

  10. He needs to take time out to ensure he’s safe. Hopefully he takes the rest of the season off to deal with the deadliest virus. I’m sure everyone will understand although I’m not sure why he was not wearing his mask during interviews. Also strange that he was not having these breathing issues at any race since Abu Dhabi last year.

    1. He’s been sounding unusually breathless on nearly every end of race radio exchange that they’ve broadcast. Previously, this would only happen at the most taxing tracks.

    2. TV commentators have noted he sounded short of breath at a number of races when he’s talking on team radio.

  11. Would it be worthy to investigate his diet?

    1. Not eating meat is not the answer here. He can also afford the best nutrition. He wouldn’t cut corners here, he’s a lot smarter than that.

      1. Steve Jobs had access to the best doctors but failed to look for the best treatment in time.
        And apparently he is cutting corners – who else is showing such problems.
        I think at least two drivers had covd and are not showing further problems.
        Nor we’ve been seeing drivers at the verge of collapse, while driving under even harsher conditions.
        Yes, post-covd seems to be a tricky condition.
        I would not disregard one factor that distinguishes HAM from other drivers who are not collapsing after the race- his peculiar diet. In fact, some criticism were raise sometimes that drivers didnt look like they’ve made any effort.
        Especially because sometimes veganism is more an ethical/political stance, some might not pay the due attention to medical/nutritional situation.

        1. Sounds like you should educate yourself on Long Covid.

        2. You think a professional athlete hasn’t consulted nutritionists along with his trainers to make sure his diet consists of all the nutrients he needs? There are many other high profile athletes who adopted this “peculiar diet”, and many found that it enhanced their performance. Hamilton has been on this diet for several years, but never before seemed to be struggling either during or after a race. It has nothing to do with his diet, and there’s no reason to doubt this is the aftereffects of Covid.

    2. If races are affecting him that much then he should consider hanging the gloves up, getting dizzy spells whilst racing cars is dangerous.

      He’s the only driver on the grid suffering from this, quit whilst you’re ahead man.

  12. Diziness at Silverstone? Cops corner perhaps?

    Reply moderated
  13. Maybe it’s because he had to fight for a position for a change. Normally on track he relies on DRS or drivers get out of the way to let him though. Having to fight for position is something he’s barely done since Rosberg was his team mate.

    1. Bruno Verrari
      1st August 2021, 21:15

      Could very well be – certainly, at his age..!
      He could take time off, or even wiit, if more adviseable?!

      1. You keep saying he will/should take time off. What utter nonsense man! You think Max is going to get the WDC that easily. Yo are simply stating your wishes rather than there being any real possibility of this actually happening.

        1. Well, you could also argue risk vs reward. How advisable is it to be in a car traveling at these speeds while you report episodes of being dizzy? He has all the records and all the money in the world. Why risk your life? For what?

    2. True, lets face it we see drivers going from last to the podium in F1, particularly in Hungary, on a regular basis. Without breaking a sweat.

    3. Never miss an opportunity to make a comment like this. Very clever. Bah humbug.

  14. … false testimony is Hamilton’s real specialty. The guy has no compunction, lying straight through his teeth. Were he indeed plagued dizziness? disorientation? Hamilton would have been deemed unfit to drive a passenger car, much less F1. FiA would have pulled his super-license, in a hot second. Never would Hamilton be allowed to set foot in any FiA sanctioned form of organized motor sport, much less drive F1.

    Reply moderated
    1. Thank you for producing the mandatory hate comment; we were really missing your insights.

  15. He sure looked like death. Hope he’s OK. Good timing on the break then it seems.

  16. Well, it was also very hot and humid today and he was driving a black car, Bottas complained about that in Spain.

  17. That explains all the breathlessness and errors since kicking George out of his car last year then.

  18. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    2nd August 2021, 12:24

    He had trouble breathing and in front of so many people and on TV, it’s really hard to have breathing issues… I’m surprised he didn’t suffer a panic attack, that’s usually what happens when you try to control your breathing but realize you can’t.

  19. It makes his wins and races he had so far all the more impressive. The physical stress is no joke in F1 (or so I heard :-)). To pull that off while still experiencing symptoms of Covid is remarkable. I’m sure he’ll be checked though, that he doesn’t overdo it. Otherwise it could be dangerous.

  20. I whish him well and hope its not COVID related. I would prefer it to be a normal wear and tear of a hard fought and difficult race as it was. Same with GB race two weeks ago, it is completely normal to feel tired after racing for 70 laps at 100% and then get off the car and run to the stands back and forth like crazy, of course you will be out of breath!!

    Hope this is not another “Boy who cried wolf” situation to grab attention, you know.. like the typical “Tires are shot..” then drive for 30 more laps like nothing.

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