Wolff: Hamilton ‘definitely’ a doubt for Canadian GP

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, suffering from back pain. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, suffering from back pain, walks through the paddock post-race, holding his back. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

Such is the back pain Lewis Hamilton is suffering, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says his driver may miss the next race in Canada.

The subject of porpoising and its impact on the health of drivers became a major talking point at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

This bouncing phenomenon is something that has followed Mercedes around the calendar so far, this after Formula 1’s move to ground-effect aerodynamics for 2022.

But across large parts of the grid, its severity in Azerbaijan was a huge cause for concern.

At Mercedes, the bouncing W13 has led to severe back pain for Hamilton, the seven-time former World Champion revealing he had been “praying” for the race to end.

Asked by Sky Sports F1 if he was relying on adrenalin to finish the race, Hamilton replied: “Yeah, that’s the only thing, just like biting down on my teeth through pain and just adrenalin.

“I can’t express the pain you experience, particularly on the straight here. And at the end, you are just praying for it to end.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, in pain holding his back. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

Hamilton was seen struggling to climb out of the cockpit post-race and with the first Canadian Grand Prix since 2019 coming next weekend, Wolff is not so sure Hamilton will be able to compete.

Asked if Hamilton’s participation in the Canadian Grand Prix was in doubt, Wolff told reporters: “Yeah, definitely.

“I haven’t seen him and I haven’t spoken to him afterwards, but you can see this is not muscular anymore – it goes properly deep into the spine and there are some consequences.

“At this stage I think he is maybe the worst affected of all drivers. But pretty much everyone, as far as I understood from the drivers, said something needs to happen.

“The solution could be to have someone in reserve, which we anyway have at every race, to make sure our cars are running.”

Should Hamilton be unable to compete in Canada, Mercedes may call upon the services of one of their Formula E drivers, with Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne both acting as reserve drivers for the Formula 1 team.

De Vries’ only experience during a Formula 1 race weekend came at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix where he made his debut with Williams in FP1.

Vandoorne, meanwhile, is a former McLaren driver, making his debut in 2016 before contesting full campaigns in 2017 and 2018.