Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku Street Circuit, 2022

‘I’ll do anything to avoid having that again’ says Hamilton after ‘most painful race ever’

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton described the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as the “most painful race I’ve experienced” after suffering from excessive bouncing.

The Mercedes driver finished fourth behind team mate George Russell. He complained of back pain during the race due to the severe bouncing he experienced around the Baku street circuit. After the race, Hamilton was seen climbing gingerly out of his Mercedes in obvious discomfort.

Asked by RaceFans about his physical state was following the race, Hamilton said he felt “really, really sore.

“That was the most painful race I’ve experienced. The toughest race I’ve experienced,” Hamilton said. “I don’t want to have that bouncing again. I’ll do anything to avoid having that again.”

Hamilton said that the stiff ride of the Mercedes during the race left him fighting to keep his car out of hitting the wall around the 21 corners of the Baku City Circuit.

“The thing was bouncing so much,” he explained. “There were so many times I was nearly going into the wall.”

“So that was a concern safety wise at 180 miles an hour, smashing into the wall. I don’t think I’ve ever really had to think about that too much as a racing driver. You don’t really ever think about keeping it out of the wall at high speed. A very, very strange experience.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in pictures
He admitted he’s “worried for every time we’re going to be back in the car” at the moment. Hamilton ran some different parts on his car compared to his team mate, and he said it’s clear they haven’t worked.

“George didn’t the have the same bounces that I had,” Hamilton noted. “He had a lot less bouncing. Yesterday I lost three-and-a-half tenths to him, just on the straights.

“I had an experimental part on my car and different rear suspension. So ultimately it’s the wrong one.”

Hamilton explained he had been undergoing cryotherapy to help his body recover from the impact of the bouncing in the car.

“I’ve been doing cryotherapy and when you go in there for four minutes, it’s bloody cold and you just have to go internal and just say you can. It’s the same sort of thing, just kind of biting down and just gritting with it.

“I have to think of all the people that rely on me to get those points, so that’s really what I was focussed on. But this is definitely the worst for me – I haven’t had it as bad this year.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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39 comments on “‘I’ll do anything to avoid having that again’ says Hamilton after ‘most painful race ever’”

  1. Completely unsustainable. Hamilton should now be looking for a switch to Ferrari and Sainz’s seat. Cynical, I know, but I think in the past it would have been an obvious move for a senior driver at this point in his career. Otherwise Hamilton will be spending the last years in F1 in a team in decline. Do Ferrari need him? Maybe, maybe not. This season will probably tell us.

    1. Calm down, folks, geez. This is motorsport, ups and downs happen. It’s not as if Lewis hasn’t gone through difficult seasons before. Give the guy a break. Success doesn’t last forever. Look at Alonso, look at Vettel, look at Schumacher at Mercedes, look at Hamilton from 2009-2013. Just sit down and enjoy the sport.

      1. Kind of patronising comment André. My enjoyment of the season so far has faded with Ferrari’s challenge. And this season, though I had wanted Mercedes to be competing for wins, I’m rooting for Russell more than Hamilton. Personally I’d have liked to see Hamilton at Ferrari some years ago. Why? Multiple reasons, mainly because it would have been a move away from Mercedes engines, a move to the biggest name in F1, a different racing style, all the back history between Lewis and Ferrari and its drivers. Could still happen but totally unlikely, I know. I was more making the point that this kind of move was more common in the past. It’s all a bit slow-paced and predictable in terms of drivers and teams now. Wouldn’t it be great to see some unexpected big name moves?

        1. Nothing to do with patronizing, nothing to do with you personally. It’s about you people making a huge deal of events which are normal in motorsport. These things have been happening since forever, same patterns, only different generation of cars and drivers. A driver having a sub-optimal season after successful years is not the end of the world. Until recently Lewis was fighting for the championship, and now you are suggesting that’s he’s done and should move teams. Come on. Such an overreaction. Keep this in mind: you don’t know anything about what’s going on inside at Mercedes and what the drivers are actually trying to do.

    2. Agree, he might have been an option for 2023 instead of SAI… in case he wants to leave Mercedes. But don’t think Ferrari really needs him anymore, not as a leader and for a 40-50mil salary etc. I’m afraid HAM (and ALO) represent only the present, not the future for sure, and if he wants to move, Ferrari should invest him only as for a no.2.

      1. @mg1982 Well, yes, I think he could have moved to Ferrari already and supposedly (? rumours) it was discussed. I doubt Ferrari today would want to upset Leclerc. Like I said, depends on how this season pans out and whether Ferrari consider Hamilton could make the vital difference (still) in a title fight.

        1. Thought I saw something the other day that had LH insisting he’ll only ever drive for Mercedes. As well, I don’t think he’d have the time nor the desire to leave his family and go through the teething issues with another team. But hey, never say never right, and it would certainly be news that would rock the F1 world.

    3. After the huge difference in performance compared to Russell, and also the physical condition after the race compared to his teammate, Hamilton is over. He can leave in an honorable way, or follow the ALO or VET route and fade out in a nonwinning team.

    4. Mmm, a leclerc-hamilton line up would be pretty strong if he has still got it, also would be interesting to see hamilton at ferrari cause of it being unusual, he was fighting vs ferrari for the championship for a few years.

  2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    12th June 2022, 15:38

    It is very odd that the old man of the team gets the bad setups.

    Once again though Lewis starts just a little behind George but it is enough that when something happens it turns into multiple seconds.

    1. Mercedes seems to value Hamilton’s feedback more, so they do their experiments with him and his car, which is understandable as all Russell really knows are those lackluster Williams cars.

      And even with the team treating the season as a somewhat elaborate test session, they’re still within a shot of taking 2nd in the WCC. It’s not all bad at Mercedes.

    2. Its not really that odd if think about it.

      Hamilton is doing the bulk of the testing, he is gathering data ahead of their planned uprades. Whilst he’s doing that Russell is driving a normal set up and fine tunning that set up ahead of qualifying. Hamilton basically has less time to do the fundamentals. Instead he’s relying on his experiance of the track, and then getting on with providing data for their design problems. Hamilton has basically sacrifices his own stats, knowing the car wont fix itself.

    3. As others have said, it seems Hamilton is taking all the pain and Russel is benefitting. I think Russel is an astonishing driver but he really need to be thanking Lewis at the moment. They are using Lewis to test everything as they value his feedback so much. This means Russel has a more consistent car even if it is still not great and still behaves badly. At least he can get used to the way it behaves while Lewis is getting test parts during practice.

    4. Maybe, just many you should consider that Russel is simply the better driver of the two. Almost every time Russel scores ahead of Hamilton. Statistical deviance has depleted by now.

      1. #1 Drivers always get the new parts first, they are supposed to be an upgrade. Could you imagine if George had the parts and finished ahead of Lewis, Internal implosion. No Lewis demands the new stuff, it should be better. Maybe the floor is too efficient, raising it a tad could find it’s sweet spot and alleviate the issues of bottoming repeatedly. What ever the fix, it is in their hands, no one else’s. George is just being George, everyone knew he was special, now Lewis does too.

  3. If “doing anything” extends to having a slower car in the race, he can certainly have a softer ride. If Mercedes aren’t willing to do that, perhaps sub a test driver in for Canada. It won’t be as bumpy once they go to Silverstone so he won’t have an issue.

    1. Yeah, that was pretty much what Norris mentioned on the F1TV aftershow – that they were probably running at a bit higher level (leaving some performance on the table), and that all the teams just have to find the right balance between having to suffer porpoising they can deal with.

      I would suggest Mercedes run somewhat higher, but it might mean that they will drop off the pace a few tenths more.

  4. Lift the ride height. Mercedes have gone with a more aggressive floor, which others could have done but saw problems with it. They dropped the ball, but I don’t think it’s fair to have others compromised because Merc got it wrong. It’s a safety concern only if they don’t make concessions, which they can.

  5. It concerns me that given the level of pain Lewis was in at the end of the race (which could be seen on his face when he got out of the car), that the teams are able to get away with the level of porpoising that some teams are getting.

    Hamilton drove a blinding race and deserved his finishing position, but the question does have to be asked at what level does the porpoising amount exceed acceptable limits.

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      12th June 2022, 15:49

      Lift.The.Car.Up.

      The team can fix it, they chose not to.
      Also:

      which could be seen on his face when he got out of the car

      False, he acted worse than Mansell and his helmet stayed on the entire time, as he knew even he couldn’t have kept a straight face when doing that.

      1. If they lift the car, they lose downforce, they have to increase the rear wing, they increase drag, they lose pace.

        Its not as simple as lift the car up.

        Eventually they’ll have to redesign the chassis, shift the engine for a CG better suited to the stiffer floor. They have started along this path, but its a multifaceted solution which, these days, they can’t simply through money at.

    2. Blinding race? A few DRS passes on slower cars, position gifted due to failing Ferraris, behind Vettel on merit until his off? 20+ seconds behind teammate? Why is the bar so low. We’ve seen many great drives from Lewis, this was not one of them.

      1. He wasn’t behind Vettel on merit. That occurred cos Mercs double stacked. Vettel bottled it and he gained the place back

      2. When they double stacked, he had the slower pit stop and lost positions to Vettel and Ocon the fastest S3 on the track ,and got stuck, whereas Russell had a clear track ahead of him all race long.

        That’s where the gross of the 20+ second gap came from. Pretty dishonest from you trying to imply he got left behind simply because he couldn’t keep up.

  6. Electroball76
    12th June 2022, 15:56

    Can’t they just copy the Red Bull and say they had that idea ages ago?

    1. Sounds legit!

  7. As George Russell mentioned yesterday, the potential with the bouncing for an accident to occur is high and will happen. You can’t have cars at Spa for example bottoming out at speed, especially in the multiple highspeed corners we see at that circuit. Its not just a Mercedes issue either, there were plenty of other teams experiencing simular issues at Baku, but Mercedes are still suffering the worst from it.
    I am going to be honest. I am not convinced by the 2022 cars and the argument that they have improved ‘the show’. That race was without doubt the most boring Baku race I have seen and once Charles Leclerc had retired there was never any doubt on who the victor was going to be.
    I am not a Hamilton or Mercedes fanboy, I am glad their dominance has come to an end for the sake of the sport, but to what cost? I am hoping its not the corpse of another dead driver.

  8. So several years ago, Alonso had to pass a fitness test after his crash to prove that he could get out of the car quickly enough. (If I’m not mistaken)
    Setting how much difficulty Lewis had to get out of his car at the end of this race, I think FIA should have a serious talk about safety with Mercedes. Would he be able to get out of the car in time in case of a crash near the end of the race?

    Use the sensors already in the car to measure the forces on the drivers. If they are too high due to porpoising teams should be fined and ride height increased until the forces are at acceptable levels. And leave the teams alone that have it under control.

  9. Given their possibilites, Mercedes is underperforming. Wrong upgrades?!?! Sounds a lot like Ferrari, no?!?! I guess the world is not that big after all….

    Anyway, the porpoising and they way it affects drivers in general might be a FIA concern for 2023 and beyond, at the moment it’s Mercedes’ problem to take care of their drivers (since other teams can). If Mercedes can’t, then FIA should step in at Mercedes and force them to raise the car.

  10. Can’t they put some kind of suspension on the drivers seats? Or make it (the seat) a bit more comfortable (spongy?)

    1. I was thinking the same thing, something along the lines of the damping , or steady cam, they have in the film industry. The trouble is weight. They would have to engineer a counter weight solution to really match the randomise bounce these care encounter. Hydrolics or fluids wouldn’t react fast enough.

  11. FIA must order Mercedes to not do that again. They must put in all cars specific sensors for driver health and if any team surpass the limits they must forced to fix it or they will not have.
    This is unacceptable and disrespectful to a driver like Lewis.
    I don’t care if they want to test out anything (between us, i don’t buy that Hamilton does all the testing really, all is Toto politics and i don’t know the reason).
    I don’t believe also that is Hamilton mistake in setups, just test anything you want in the FPs but for Christ sake give the man a car that is not hurting him and no-one cares if he finish dead last.
    I’m really furious with this and i don’t accept it.
    What the driver association is doing? They need to step up ASAP.

    1. Typo: or they will not race.

  12. The only thing the FIA should do is fit sensors to all cars to measure the g force of the vertical loads when bouncing. If its over a certain amount that is deemed unhealthy, that car has to be driven at a certain ride height or its black flagged for being unsafe. It would be completely unfair on those teams were porpoising isn’t so bad and that have built cars during a budget cap if there was a rule change halfway through the season. Mclaren said today that they’d have been as quick as merc if they ran the car as low as they did but knew it would bounce

  13. I would not doubt these ground effect cars will be pushing some drivers out of the series just like they did in the early 80s.

  14. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    13th June 2022, 0:40

    I miss the excitement of the past seasons.

  15. Chris Horton
    13th June 2022, 8:28

    Hamilton would “do anything”?

    Just raise the ride height.

    1. Abies de Wet
      13th June 2022, 9:39

      Amen…

  16. I’m worried about him, as a sufferer from chronic back pain after making one momentary mistake lifting. I don’t want him ending up like Mansell, back full of painful injuries for the rest of his life. Luckily for most of us, our job doesn’t depend on risking our health – but his does. No amount of wealth will compensate for permanent injury.

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