Tagged in: azerbaijan

Lewis Hamilton to race at Canada GP, says ‘wouldn’t miss it for the world’ despite pain

Lewis Hamilton has said he will be at the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend and “would not miss it for the world,” despite enduring severe back pain at Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion described Baku as “the toughest race” of his career after suffering more bouncing issues, with Mercedes fearing he might not be fit to race in Canada.

“Yesterday was tough and I had some trouble sleeping, but I’ve woken up feeling positive today,” Hamilton said in a social media post on Monday.

“My back is a little sore and bruised but nothing serious thankfully.”

“I’ve had acupuncture and physiotherapy and I’m on my way to my team to work with them on improving.

“We have to keep fighting. I’ll be there this weekend — I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Hamilton concluded fourth in Baku, after starting seventh in a race where both Ferrari drivers retired, and later told reporters it was “the most painful race” he had experienced.

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Team boss Toto Wolff recognized the situation raised concerns.

“He’s really bad,” the Austrian told reporters. “We’ve just got to find a solution… I think he is maybe the worst affected from all drivers.”

“I haven’t seen him and I haven’t spoken to him afterwards, but you can see this is not muscular anymore.

“I mean, this goes properly into the spine and it can have some consequences.”

Hamilton, who clutched his back as he clambered out of the car, likened the experience to enduring a four minute cryotherapy session and said he just focused on all the people counting on him to score points.

Teammate George Russell, who finished third, warned on Saturday that it was only a matter of time before the ‘porpoising’ problem caused a major accident.

“I don’t really know what the future holds but I don’t think we can sustain this for three years or however long these regulations are in force for,” he said.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose drivers finished one-two with world champion Max Verstappen leading Sergio Perez, suggested rivals might be over-playing the problems to secure a favorable rule change on safety grounds.

“I’d tell them to bitch as much as they could and make as big an issue out of it as they possibly could,” he said when asked what he would tell his drivers if they suffered from similar bouncing.

“It’s part of the game. It’s like somebody going into a penalty box.

“You can see it’s uncomfortable but there are remedies to that. But it is to the detriment of the car performance. So the easiest thing to do is to then complain from a safety point of view,” he added.

Raising the car’s ride height would remove much of the bouncing but that would also negatively impact on performance.

Champions Mercedes have been struggling more than most with the bouncing as teams come to terms with sweeping new regulations.

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Max Verstappen has unfinished business at Baku’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen has unfinished business to take care of at this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix while also looking to reassert himself as Red Bull’s lead driver.

The Dutchman was heading for triumph at the Baku street track last year when a tire exploded and pitched him into the barrier on the high speed run along the city’s Caspian Sea waterfront.

Mexican teammate Sergio Perez took the gain instead and returns triumphant and as a potential title contender after his victory two weeks ago in Monaco.

Verstappen will be determined to stop him becoming the first driver to win twice in Baku.

“I’m looking forward to returning to Baku, we have some unfinished business there after last year,” said the 24-year-old who has a nine point lead over Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc with Perez a further six behind.

“Last year was unlucky, simple as that,” he said.

“It was a very painful one, but that happens. That’s racing… it’s different cars, different tyres (this time) and we go again.”

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Perez, who was also on the podium in Baku twice while racing for Force India, is in the form of his life and with a new two-year contract with Red Bull freshly signed.

The 6km long Baku street track, a mix of flat-out blasts and tight corners lined by unforgiving barriers, is famed for unpredictable races and has produced five different winners in five years on the calendar.

Leclerc is familiar with the track’s pitfalls, having crashed while on course for pole position in 2019.

The Monegasque and Ferrari, chasing a first title since 2008, will want the weekend to go perfectly after potential wins slipped through their fingers in Monaco and Spain.

Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton will also be keen to make amends after failing to capitalize on Verstappen’s retirement last year when he went from second to 15th in Baku, having accidentally triggered a ‘brake magic’ function on his steering wheel.

His Mercedes team are the most successful in Baku, with three victories. A fourth looks a distant prospect unless the track throws up another surprise.

“Baku often produces some fun and crazy track action, and the layout generates good racing opportunities,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

“So, let’s see if it lives up to its reputation this weekend.”

The possibility of podium appearance by a midfield team is always there. Apart from Perez’s Force India exploits, Sebastian Vettel was second last year for Aston Martin with Pierre Gasly third for AlphaTauri.

Lance Stroll’s first top-three result came in Baku with Williams in 2017.

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