Hamilton ‘prayed for the race to end’ in Baku

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

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, in pain holding his back after the race in Baku. Azerbaijan, June 2022.

A suffering Lewis Hamilton was desperate for the race to end as his Mercedes W13 bounced away at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Mercedes have suffered with the phenomenon for much of the season so far, though at the Baku City Circuit, it became a more widespread issue across the grid, and a very serious one for Mercedes.

It left Hamilton suffering with back pain throughout the race weekend, his team-mate George Russell saying after qualifying that a “major” incident is coming unless something is done from a regulatory standpoint.

Team boss Toto Wolff said pre-race that Hamilton could struggle to make it to the chequered flag, such was the pain being inflicted by the porpoising, but he was able to complete the race, recording a P4 finish as he crossed the line behind Russell in P3.

The toll which it had taken on his body though was clear as the seven-time World Champion struggled to climb out of the cockpit, Wolff apologising over the radio for the W13 behaving like a “sh*tbox” in the race.

Hamilton explained that adrenaline and prayers for the chequered flag to be flown got him to the end.

Lewis Hamilton heads a pack of cars. Baku June 2022.
Lewis Hamilton heads a pack of cars during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku June 2022.

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

“I can’t express the pain that you experience, particularly on the straight here. And at the end, you’re just praying for it to end. We’re in such a good position, we get third and fourth, [it] is a great result for the team. Really, the team did a great job with the strategy.”

Hamilton said that he was giving up a second in lap time through the severe bouncing alone, so he will be in the factory looking for answers, stating that when they are found, Mercedes will be fighting at the front of the pack again.

“Once we fix this bouncing we can be right there in the race,” said Hamilton, “but we were losing for sure over a second just from bouncing.

“I’ll be in the factory tomorrow. We’ve got to have some good discussions and keep pushing.”

Shortly before the national anthem was played pre-race, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem was seen speaking to Hamilton.

Hamilton was asked whether that related to Ben Sulayem’s recent controversial comments on driver activism, a field which Hamilton is very much active in.

Hamilton recalled that the chat was about motivating him to keep pushing on.

“I don’t remember honestly, that far…back hurting,” said Hamilton of the exchange.

“I think he said just don’t lose hope, I think that’s what he was saying. Just don’t give up for something like that.”