Mercedes plans reserve driver “solution” for Canada in case Hamilton can’t drive RaceFans

Mercedes will make sure they are prepared for the possibility that Lewis Hamilton will not be able to compete during next week’s Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

Hamilton said he was in severe pain during today’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix due to the porpoises and the bottoming of his car during the race. He called it “the most painful race I’ve been through”.

Wolff said it was clear his driver’s condition was worse than just muscle aches. “I haven’t seen him and haven’t spoken to him since,” he said, “but you can see that this is no longer muscular. I mean, this is going well in the spine and could have some repercussions.”

The training sessions for the next race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve start in five days. Wolff said the team will be ready for the possibility of Hamilton or team-mate George Russell not being able to drive.

“I don’t think this is just Lewis’s problem,” he said. “He’s probably the hardest hit. But generally it also affects George and many others.

“So the solution could be to have someone on reserve, who we have at every race anyway, to make sure our cars are running.”

Hamilton has not missed a race since testing positive for Covid-19 ahead of the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. All teams are required to conduct at least two junior practice sessions over the course of the season. Mercedes could take the opportunity to do that in practice one, extending Hamilton’s recovery time.

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Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Gallery: Azerbaijan 2022 Grand Prix in Photos

Wolff radioed Hamilton after the race. “I know this is a bit of a shitbox to drive in,” he said, “sorry about that.”

Afterwards, he admitted that his driver was in “really bad” condition after the race. “We just need to find a solution at this stage,” Wolff said. “He is, I think, perhaps the hardest hit of our drivers.

“But as far as I understood from the drivers, pretty much everyone said something had to be done. But I couldn’t give you an explanation of what that is.”

In Baku, the problem of the porpoises cars – bouncing up and down at high speed – was exacerbated by reaching their bottom – hitting the track – on the bumpy track. “They are very connected,” Wolff agrees. “We’ve seen tracks where we have zero porpoises and then we bounce and then some cars descend.

“So it’s not really clear. It is obvious [that] it’s all linked to the aerodynamic performance of the floor.”

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