Grand prix

Wolff fears spine injury could put Hamilton out of Canadian GP

The seven-time world champion suffered back pain from severe porpoising and bottoming out in his Mercedes car during Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix and described the race as the “most painful” he had ever experienced. 

Hamilton was seen holding his lower back as he struggled out of his car and hobbled away in parc ferme. He told Sky that adrenaline was the “only thing” that got him through the 51 laps and said he was “just biting down on my teeth due to the pain”. 

Wolff admitted there is genuine concern that Hamilton’s condition could force him to miss the next race in Montreal

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

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

Wolff, who apologised to Hamilton over team radio for having to drive a “shitbox”, added: “He’s really bad. We have just got to find a solution. At this stage I think he is maybe the worst affected from all drivers. 

“Pretty much everyone, as far as I understood from the drivers, said that something needs to happen. But I couldn’t give you an explanation what that is.” 

With just five days until free practice gets underway in Canada, Wolff said Mercedes will put plan in place to replace either Hamilton or teammate George Russell if needed. 

Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, who recently took part in a practice outing for Williams in Barcelona, and Stoffel Vandoorne are Mercedes’ reserve drivers. Vandoorne was on standby for Mercedes this weekend in Baku.

“I don’t think it’s only Lewis with this issue,” Wolff continued. “He’s the one that’s probably worst affected. But generally it effects George and many others. 

“The solution could be to have someone on reserve, which we anyway have at every race, to make sure that our car is running.”

Max Verstappen won the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner insisted that their “no fighting” radio instruction, as Verstappen overtook Perez, was not a team order designed to prioritise the reigning champion.

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