Hamilton warned for refusing medical centre trip after ‘nearly breaking my back’

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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The Belgian Grand Prix stewards have warned Lewis Hamilton for refusing to check into the circuit medical centre after his race-ending collision with Fernando Alonso.

The rear of Hamilton’s Mercedes was pitched into the air after wheel-to-wheel contact with Alonso’s Alpine at Les Combes. The contact caused enough damage to the Mercedes that it led to Hamilton’s retirement.

When his car hit the ground after being tipped into the air, the force of the impact trigged the FIA-mandated medical warning light which detects when drivers experience a significant force on their bodies. The FIA regulations demand that all drivers who experience accidents that trigger the warning system must be checked by medical staff, even if they climb out of their cars unaided.

However, the stewards noted that Hamilton failed to follow the protocol and report to the medical centre as directed and issued a formal warning to Hamilton for failing to do so.

In their ruling, the stewards explained they “received a report from the race director that the driver [Hamilton] refused to visit the event medical service following his crash on lap one where the medical warning light threshold was exceeded and only did so after the race director informed the team that further action could be taken if he did not.

“This is not the first time this season that drivers (not Hamilton) have initially refused to go for a medical check. The stewards issue a warning in this case, with a reminder to all drivers that stronger action may be taken in the future.”

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Speaking after his retirement to media including RaceFans, Hamilton admitted that he had suffered a significant blow in the car upon striking the ground after he had been briefly airborne.

“I nearly broke my back coming down so it was a big hit,” Hamilton explained. “I’m sure I’ll feel sore tomorrow.

“I remember just looking at the ground, so that was quite high. I’m so grateful to be still alive and in shape.”

Hamilton initially continued to race after the collision, but was later told to pull off the circuit later in the lap as damage from the collision had caused a major drop in oil pressure in his W13.

“I could hear something was broken in the gearbox,” he explained. “That coming down, I would have broken so much in the back end, so I was told to stop. Obviously in that moment you’re hopeful you can keep going but it was not meant to be.”

Hamilton accepted responsibility for the collision but admitted he did not expect to have been pitched so high into the air as a result of the contact.

“Yeah, definitely surprised to see it go that high,” he said. “I’m just sorry to my team, that was a lot of points lost today. I was giving it everything all weekend. But we move forwards and I’ll try to do a good job next week.”

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Author information

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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43 comments on “Hamilton warned for refusing medical centre trip after ‘nearly breaking my back’”

  1. Priorities.

    1. You don’t need to prioritise some things when there are multiple brachnes of a tree to handle separate things.
      They can happen simulationusly. Amazing huh?

      1. @jerejj

        Yeah, like having to be the first comment on every post 😴

  2. Pretends to be in excruciating pain after Baku GP, playing to the cameras like Mansell in his greatest roles:

    “That’s the only thing,” Hamilton said. “Biting down on my teeth through pain and just adrenaline. “I can’t express the pain that you experience, particularly on the straight here. At the end, you’re just praying for it to end.”

    Refuses to visit medical centre after nearly breaking his back few races later. Hamilton is really giving “kids out there” such a great example how to behave – if you have a medical problem, absolutely don’t visit a doctor.

    1. “if you have a medical problem, absolutely don’t visit a doctor.” I like it!

      1. Quite right; doctors surgeries are full of sick people – you might catch something!

  3. I think Hamilton’s thinking is he only stopped because the car was damaged, not because of collision. He was well enough to continue and therefore this summons for treatment, sometime after the sensor measured the car’s impact was a little belated. A technical reaction to the senor.

    Had the stewards stopped the race because of that car’s impact sensor, it would have been tough but perhaps justified. They didn’t therefore it can’t have been important enough for him to go visit a doctor.

    1. Interesting; that got me wondering – if the sensor triggers but the impact doesn’t put hte car out of the race, what happens (this might be hypothetical :) )?

      Is the car black-flagged to force the driver to come in and take the trip to the medical centre, or do they just leave it out there and hope for the best?

      1. good question

      2. Yeah – that is a really good question. Perhaps RaceFans can put that to the FIA / stewards or whomever at the next round? @keithcollantine

        It would be an unusual occurrence (to trigger the sensor, but be able to continue), when I saw the replay of how Lewis landed I did think “that has gotta hurt”, these cars have very little suspension, he basically got dropped on his bum from about 6ft. But if the oil pressure hadn’t failed, can he continue?

    2. @bernasaurus , @lucifer and OldIron, drivers can’t continue lapping after the medical warning light comes on. That would breach Article 10.6 c, which requires “after an incident during [a race weekend or current F1 car test] the Medical Warning Light signals [excess G] the driver must present himself for examination in the circuit medical centre without delay”). However, they are entitled to park in the pits instead of dumping their car at the side of the track if the car’s condition permits, in the same way that they’re allowed to do so if they notice they’re not well enough to continue the race after a crash that doesn’t trigger the sensor. After all, pitting is faster than getting a lift from a marshal with a scooter typically would be.

      Ajaxn, in light of the above, if Hamilton had been stopped for the medical warning light, that couldn’t have been issued until the second time Hamilton reached the start/finish straight. For traditional consistency reasons, there’s only one black flag, and only one black-and-orange flag; both are kept at the start/finish marshal post. Since he failed to get that far into the race, ordering a stop would be impossible.

  4. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought Mansell was a massive drama queen!

  5. There was no caution flag, VSC, or SC after HAM stopped his car on side of track. That was curious. The caution and SC came out after BOT was stuck. Shouldn’t a VSC been enough?

    HAM had a 5 mile walk back to the pits. I’m guessing he would have collapsed somewhere along that dirt road if he was injured. Where was the medical car if HAM’s car triggered a warning?

    1. this. although the question, as provocative as it is, remains a question to which a reasonable answer is possible

    2. It’s hard to tell what ultimately caused the safety car decision to be made. There was a Yellow Flag for Sector 3 called just as Sainz was entering Les Combes on lap 2 because Hamilton had come to a stop (his timing stopped updating). About 11 seconds after that Latifi and Bottas spin, and then a similar amount of time later a safety car is deployed, in time to do so before Sainz exits Stavelot unto the ‘straight’ Hamilton is parked. They could have waited quite a bit longer if they were mainly concerned about Bottas being stuck, but it seems they wanted to be quick about it to prevent people speeding past the parked Mercedes.

    3. @jimfromus I think there should have been a Safety Car before it was done, because Lewis had to put out his smoking car by himself. F1 has had a habit recently of waiting until machinery is in place to enter the track before giving the “go” signal, but you don’t need a machine to put out a small car fire and marshals deserve protection too.

      1. (Also, the medical warning simply signals that the driver needs to go to the medical centre for a check-up. It says nothing about whether the driver needs help or not).

  6. Lewis should have gone for the checkup. It took lots of effort to make sure there are adequate medical facilities at the race track before the race starts, e.g. there’s a helicopter on standby to take an injured person to hospital. I suspect the cost of a checkup while at the racetrack would have been born by someone other than himself, e.g. the FIA, but once he leaves the racetrack then the responsibility to pay is his own.

    1. Maybe if they’d bothered to give him a lift back as opposed to letting him walk back by himself along that dirt track, we’d take their pledges of concern for driver welfare more seriously.

      1. Maybe if he’d stayed near his car, they’d have had reason to send the medical car. Or even find the nearest scooter oo motorbike, which clearly wasn’t at that flag point.

        Regardless – the drivers all know when the G-sensor is triggered, they are required to attend the medical centre.

        1. Maybe if staying near a car that clearly cannot run further was permitted within the regulations, it might have happened. Or if Lewis had managed to find a scooter or motorbike in that long walk back…

          (He definitely should have respected the medical warning light, even if he thought it was broken).

          1. It’s completely legal to wait at the marshal post for them to call a medical car or send a bike. They knew the car was in a heavy impact, and the marshals have authority to call for assistance in those circumstances.
            Unless you can find me a rule that says the driver has to walk back, @alianora-la-canta? I mean, sending a vehicle would be faster and safer, wouldn’t it….

            I can’t believe you would think that I suggest he wait on the track with his car?

          2. S, you suggested Lewis stay near his car. The marshal post is nowhere near his car.

  7. Is Lewis still participating while not adhering to the FIA’s International Sport Code?

    1. @proesterchen Yes. Otherwise the FIA’s International Sporting Code would not apply here. Though I should point out the regulation breached here was Article 10.6 c) of the F1 Sporting Regulations.

  8. If they were that concerned about his health, you’d think they’d have given him a ride back to the paddock.

  9. “I nearly broke my back coming down”

    Lewis is one of my all time favourite sports stars of all time, but I’d he lose these drama queen moments.

  10. That is a lot of porpoising. Porpoising is dangerous an health risk to the drivers as were risking seeing ferrari winning something.
    I don’t see him admitting anything. That move is typical of him, generally drivers tend to give in but I like that Alonso did not. Move was ambitious.

    1. it is not generally drivers tend to give in. it was always the right thing. that except a few that doesnt, tend to cause crashes and blame others! biggest example of it was max! he almost always at 95% chance crashes into you if you dont yield regardless of him behind or ahead. ham more often than not, gets off throttle and fight another day. people like max do not, and esp alo against ham does everything within dirty rule books! teams like rb in recent years actually encouraged this kind of crash or leave space attitude to its drivers esp against ham! some racers when racing against ham have some respect, others just do their best to prove themselves and to say look i made it hard for him the goat.

      some people just cant handle him being the GOAT. they cant accept hard factual truths.

      1. Simply cause there’s more to it than just raw stats, especially in a formula nowadays where example this year in order to win the title you need to be in a red bull, as you can see hamilton can’t compete with a merc and nor could he with a ferrari, and in order to win races you can only be on a ferrari or red bull, hamilton had enough dominant years for people to doubt he could’ve done the same with an ordinary car, but oh, wait, we already saw a hamilton without a dominant car between 2007 and 2013, he didn’t look like the best driver, while he still had a great debut year.

    2. @peartree He said it was his fault right there in the TV pen…

      1. @alianora-la-canta I didn’t see the interview, I just read this article. To me it is a racing incident, an impetuous move by him.

  11. Maybe penalty points for this kind of infringement? They throw them out for loads of stuff that isn’t dangerous driving, do why not this?

    1. @eurobrun I suspect that might be the next step (penalty points, that is). The FIA already has the authority to throw people out of subsequent sessions in a race weekend if they fail to present themselves at the medical centre on request and continue to have failed to do so by the time said next session is imminent.

  12. Find it really weird, no penalty or anything for causing a crash.
    And no penalty for not going to medical for a Driver.

    Is it because it’s LH or is it normal.

    1. It’s because he already paid the price with retirement and risk of injury.

    2. @jehannes Normal for DNFs with no apparent effect on anyone else on lap 1 (and also for team-mate collisions not affecting other drivers).

      I think issuing a formal penalty will happen the next time a driver fails to immediately go to the medical centre.

  13. I think if after the incident he was able to continue, and the amount of walking he did to get back to the pits after he stopped, I think most people would assume they did not need to go to any medical centre….

  14. This comment shows a severe lack of medical understanding.

    Regardless of assumption, the rules are in place for a very real and important reason.
    And Hamilton broke them.

    Funny actually, after all the fuss they’ve just made about the potential long-term effects of vibrations and impacts on F1 drivers…

  15. What if he’d gone to the medical centre and they’d found an earring?

    1. @bullfrog I will leave it as an exercise for the imagination as to whether the embarassment would be considered sufficient penalty, or whether the medics would have been duty-bound to report the discovery (given that it’s not in the driver’s best interests for the stewards to find out this information).

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