Valtteri Bottas has joined Lewis Hamilton in voicing concerns about the health effects that this season’s ground-effect cars could have on drivers. Hamilton suffered with crippling back pain in Baku, where the surface was particularly tough for his porpoising Mercedes, leading to doubts over whether he would be able to recover in time for Montreal this weekend.
The Brit later confirmed that he would be fit to race, but he could be set for another tough one unless Mercedes can provide him with a quick fix. Hamilton spoke of the need to ‘grit his teeth’ and call on his adrenaline reserves just to see the finish line in Azerbaijan, where he took fourth behind team-mate George Russell.
Mercedes have experienced porpoising worse than most teams on the grid, and Hamilton claims that an experimental upgrade made his specific car even more extreme than that of his team-mate last Sunday. With a growing list of drivers becoming concerned that the relentless bouncing could cause injuries, Bottas is the latest to share his view.
“I’ve seen how sore some of the drivers are after the race,” The Finn told BBC Sport.
“Some of the certain speeds and corners… the cars are less under control because of it. It is definitely a topic and it’s getting quite serious. [I’m] not sure how sustainable that is in the future and we start to actually see injuries of drivers just by driving the cars – that’s not how it should be.
“We, as drivers, spoke with FIA at the last race and made the point pretty clear that we would like to seek for any options in the future how we can improve it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt it in the worst way than some teams or drivers are experiencing it.”
Hamilton and Bottas spent five years as amicable team-mates at Mercedes, with the former winning the world title in four of them. Since moving on to Alfa Romeo the Finn has performed over and above expectations, despite finishing just outside the points in Azerbaijan last time out.
It remains to be seen whether the FIA listen to the drivers’ calls and come up with a fix that would allow all teams to find a solution without putting themselves at a performances disadvantage. Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly claimsthat his team offered him a route that would ease porpoising, but he instead risked damage by opting for the faster package.
Former world champion Damon Hill has gone as far as to suggest that Hamilton and co could begin suffering from concussion if things don’t improve.
“If you keep doing that to your head all the time, you’re going to get some kind of concussion,” he told Sky Sports F1. “It’s a mild thing but it’s head banging all the way around the circuit.
“It’s just not an ideal state of play at all. He’s also probably scuffed some skin off his lower back, I should think. He’s got to drive it and he’s clearly getting stress from doing that.”