Lewis Hamilton's shock call after Baku mayhem: 'Praying for it to end'

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Lewis Hamilton described the Azerbaijan GP as the most painful race of his career. Pic: Getty
Lewis Hamilton described the Azerbaijan GP as the most painful race of his career. Pic: Getty

Lewis Hamilton has made a startling admission about his Mercedes and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after labelling the race the most painful of his career.

The seven-time F1 world champion struggled to get out of his Mercedes cockpit after battling excruciating back pain in a fourth-placed finish at Baku on Sunday night.

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The problem for Hamilton, Mercedes, and a number of the other teams is the new-for-2022 phenomenon of porpoising which sees the car bouncing on its suspension at high speed.

Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell called the new generation of F1 cars “dangerous” and a “recipe for disaster”.

Speaking about the effect it had on him after the Azerbaijan GP, Hamilton said the pain left him "praying" for the race to end towards the latter stages in Baku.

“I was just biting down on my teeth through pain,” he told Sky Sports.

“I can’t express the pain that you experience, particularly on the straight. At the end you’re just praying for it to end.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said there was a danger Hamilton might not be fit enough to race at this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, after branding the Brit's car a “sh*tbox".

“He‘s really bad,” he said. “You can see this is not muscular anymore. I mean, this goes properly into the spine and can have some consequences.”

However, Hamilton allayed concerns he might be missing from the Canadian GP after taking to social media to express his excitement about the race.

“Yesterday was tough and had some troubles sleeping but woke up feeling positive today,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram.

“Back is a little sore and bruised by nothing serious thankfully.

“I’ll be honest it looks terrible and feels 100 times worse. Definitely some recovering and hard work with the team to do before Montreal to overcome this hurdle.

“I’ve had acupuncture and physio with Ang [Cullen, Hamilton’s physio] and am on the way to my team to work with them on improving.

“Seeing online that a lot of people are concerned about me with how awful it looked out there.... It means so much that so many of you are sending love.

“We have to keep fighting. No time like the present to pull together and we will.

“I’ll be there this weekend. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Red Bull shrugs off safety concerns from rival teams

In a stunning twist to the porpoising controversy, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner accused Mercedes of exploiting safety concerns as a means to put pressure on the sport’s regulator, the FIA.

Red Bull lead both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship with Max Verstappen heading teammate Sergio Perez home in Baku on Sunday to win for a fifth time this season.

Pictured here, Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. Pic: Getty

Verstappen is 21 points clear of Perez in the standings, and 34 points ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Horner suggested gamesmanship was behind complaints from Mercedes and other teams that the new generation of F1 cars were unsafe for drivers.

“It is part of the game,” Horner said. “If I was them, I would tell the drivers to bitch as much as they could over the radio and make as big an issue out of it as they possibly could.

“Look, it is uncomfortable but there are remedies. The easiest thing to do is to complain from a safety point of view but each team has a choice.

“If it was a genuine safety concern across the whole grid then it is something that should be looked at, but if it is only affecting isolated people or teams, then that is something that the team should deal with.

“It would seem unfair to penalise the ones who have done a decent job versus the ones who have missed the target.”

with agencies

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