Norris describes struggle with “constant pain” in back since last year

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris says changes made to Formula 1 cars in recent years have contributed to the severe back pain he started to suffer from last season.

The McLaren driver revealed he has adopted new physiotherapy routines, had new seats made for him and even given up his beloved rounds of golf to ease the strain on his back.

Norris said the pain from his back “was probably worse last year than it is this year.” In 2022 F1 introduced new technical rules which led to teams producing cars which are sprung much more stiffly than before. Other drivers have also said the new generation of cars put more strain on their backs.

“Almost every year until last year, I could get away with just hopping in the car and not doing any physio in a way,” Norris explained. “I always did it but I could get away with it. Now I have to do it.

“I have to stretch, I have to do all these things, morning and evening, before every session. If I don’t, then I always struggle a lot more with my back.”

Other factors have also contributed to his back pain. “It’s not just racing, it is other things, it’s something that I’ve had to work on in general anyway,” he said. “But it’s definitely not helped by some of the changes on the car over the last couple of years.”

He began to make changes after the pain became especially severe during last season. “It got to quite a bad point last year,” he said. “Every day I was struggling, struggling with sleep and everything just in constant pain, and now I’m in a much better position.

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“But I’m also limiting a lot more things around it. Doing more stretching, all those things, but limiting even golf, I’m playing a lot less golf just because of my back, doing more physio all those things. So, some things I have to crank up and some things I’ve had to pay the price for, like playing golf or some sports, because normally it’s always sports I’m walking.

Car changes have made problem worse, says Norris
“Even tracks walks, as soon as I do a track walk I struggle a lot so I’ve had to cut down on track walks. Little things that maybe I didn’t realise but have helped me quite a bit just get into a better position and struggle a lot less, because I was struggling a lot every day, every night with quite a bit of pain.”

Norris said he’s “in a much better position now down to some of my own stuff and down to some stuff we’ve done with the team and the seating and stuff like that.”

“I’m happier now,” he added. “I would love to play more golf as well, and certain things even with cycling and running, my back hurts. So I still can’t do everything that I would want to do, but there’s also things away from the track I’ve just got to do. More training for my core and lower back and glutes and things like that.”

He hopes the pain in his back won’t lead to “any long-term effects,” and pointed out other drivers have voiced concerns over the punishment they experience in the current generation of F1 cars.

“A number of people have spoken up about it and said it. I know everyone’s different, some people don’t, some people do but I guess for my own health and everything it’s something I need to look after.”

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McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said they are assisting Norris to reduce the pain he is experiencing.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Hamilton suffered back pain in Azerbaijan last year
“We are following this matter very closely with Lando and obviously some will have to come, as he explained himself, from his own understanding of what his body requires in terms of potential, even conditioning and in terms of how he needs to sit in the car to be comfortable and avoid these kind of issues.

“From our side there’s quite a lot of variables that we can play with, but we need to know exactly where we have to put our focus. So it’s really a work in progress, there’s no revolution in the plan in terms of the seating position, how upright it will be. We are in the middle of the process, and I guess we will discover a bit more.”

Stella believe the situation is improving. “At the moment, it looks like he seems to be getting better after a session.

“So we are hoping in a way that this will gradually fix itself thanks to the work that Lando is also doing and adaptation, even in terms of lifestyle, as we heard, which I know must be very, very painful for such a passionate golf player.”

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2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
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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6 comments on “Norris describes struggle with “constant pain” in back since last year”

  1. A stupid comment. No one wants to be in pain.

  2. Says the person sat on his sofa criticising a driver training every day and racing in a car that submits their necks to heavy G-Forces…

  3. Hopefully the FIA takes this seriously and has a look at what’s going on. If it’s a very specific problem with the cars, that’s something that’ll need to be addressed.

    But it could also just be a Norris problem. Some people unfortunately run into these problems, and especially when you’re involved in high level physical activities that can be a limitation. Countless athletes have to end their careers because of physical issues and the problems that continuing to strain themselves poses. Not infrequently the activity itself is so demanding that it takes a toll on a person’s body at a relatively young age. Pretty much every speed skater has back problems because they’re always wringing themselves into an uncomfortable pose, and no physiotherapist has ever recommended people start running actual full length marathons.

    1. they ll never look at things seriously, if they did, 2021 shenanigans, 2008 singapore, 2008 spa, 1994 imola would happen. ground effect cars always had been problematic. but adrian and his camp is always fascinated with it due to adrians much earlier experience in the matter hence to push after mercedes era, to put their dominance. but why was the ground effect cars banned in the past? exactly the reason 1994 crash happened. they allowed high cornering speed but at the same time porpoising issues causing unexpected effects both to cars and drivers! 1994 imola is one reason, side swept with steering column fault while most evidence was allowed to be destroyed. come 2022, everyone complaining about back pain, but winning team(s) obviously downplay it to certain levels!

      i would blame all the fault to fia and adrian/rbr! they pushed for this direction. and no coincidence that adrian took sometime off on a “supposed” side project that was “valkyrie” to test his ideas and investigate the ground effect more closely! also since it wasnt red bull f1, they could go over budget! 90s then 2009-2013 were all adrian eras for ground effect cars. it was no coincidence that also rbr found to be on spending limit breach! i would wonder what went behind adrians out of redbul adventure in time for new regulations were to be introduced! just look at the rb rear end and valkyrie, and tell anyone they dont resemble eachother. also coincidence adrian went back to his role at rbr in time for new regulation seasons…

      from 2014-2021 left and right they changed every regulation to slow down mercedes. frics banned, hubs banned, das banned, oil limits, new floor side regulations (again coincidentally after mercedes loosing some piece causing them to loose so much performance these also came in effect)

      what are they doing about redbull? absolutely nothing! this car is and the regulations is the biggest cheat in f1 history (noone is figuring it out why yet from f1 officials), but you think fia is doing anything seriously? they made jokes of the rules, butchered the language to fit their agenda, (spa 08) made up rules to fit a penalty after it was given. you wouldnt think anything serious would come out them? ecclestone one of f1’s supremos has been charged multiple times with illegal activities, friends with oligarches, comes back to comment on and stir up massa about 2008 case, when he was still in charge! he had the audacity to say people knew about 2008 singapore and they covered it up. admiting to f1 corruptness to its cores! what do you really expect them to do to take anything seriously?

  4. He’s not the only one.

    And it was also a complaint from drivers in the last ground effect era which was one of the reasons the drivers of the period hated those cars; Especially after the sliding skirts were banned meaning the cars had to be run even stiffer.

    It was always going to become a problem because of how you run a ground effect car to get the performance from it. You need to run them as low and stiff and with drivers sitting on the floor of the cars most of the energy is going through the drivers spine & I think many of the current crop are expecting to suffer problems in the future.

  5. Person up, Lando

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