Lewis Hamilton risked incurring the wrath of Formula 1 stewards if he accepted help getting out of his Mercedes at the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – despite the agony he was in.
The seven-time world champion’s spine had taken a beating all weekend as the low-ride Mercedes repeatedly smashed into the floor as the car suffered from the porpoising effect. It was particularly bad in Baku as the street circuit is more bumpy than many other venues.
After practice on Friday he complained that he felt “sore”, before later revealing that he had needed physiotherapy and acupuncture as his back was in “a real mess”. The race was the worst part, though, as 51 continuous laps had the Briton complaining that the pain was “killing” him.
He raced through the pain to finish fourth, an impressive result considering his discomfort and the car’s performance struggles. But Hamilton clearly paid the price and truly felt the effects of all that bouncing once the race adrenaline had worn off.
After stopping his car in Parc Ferme, Sky Sports cameras captured live the struggle he had getting out of his Mercedes . When he eventually clambered out of the cockpit, he sat on the side of the car’s halo and held his back, making little attempt to mask his discomfort.
With so many people around him at the time, many fans online were left to question why not one of them had come over to lend the racing icon a hand in getting out of the car. But the answer can be found within the F1 rulebook, as Parc Ferme regulations prevented that from happening.
No other person is allowed to touch a driver until they are weighed by the stewards after a race, to prevent any form of tampering. While no-one initially came to help Hamilton, one photo appeared to show a team member coming over to lend him a hand, potentially causing a problem with the FIA.
Such was the extent of the pain felt by the Briton, his team boss Toto Wolff suggested that he might not be fit enough to race at next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix. “You can see that it is not muscular, it goes properly deep into the spine and there are some consequences,” he said. “The solution could be to have someone on reserve, which we do at any race.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton later revealed how he had managed to still produce such a good performance despite clearly being in a lot of discomfort. After returning to the paddock to fulfil his media duties, he revealed: “The only thing was biting down my teeth with pain and just adrenaline.
“I cannot express the pain you experience, especially on the straight here. In the end you are just praying for it to end. We are in such a good position still in 3rd and 4th. It is a great result and the team did well with the strategy. Once we fix this bouncing we will be right in the race because we are losing for sure a second just with bouncing.”