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Lando Norris

Norris details intense phyiscal toll and concerns over back injury

The British driver has spoken of the physical impact cars have been having on his lower back, with the team stepping up to assist him.

Norris Belgium
Article
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Formula 1 teams spend an extortionate amount of money just to put two Grand Prix cars out on track 24 (ish) times a year.

They are exquisite works of art where everything is fine-tuned to the nth degree all in the hope that you can beat the other nine teams doing exactly the same thing.

The carbon fibre machines are capable of pulling extraordinary g-forces but very rarely break owing to the stress-testing and reliability tests that every part is put through before it gets anywhere near the factory exit door.

But for all of that reliability, it is the squishy, organic bit that often breaks before the machine.

The change to the ground-effect regulations for 2022 came with the hidden surprise of porpoising - something that has long been a fundamental of ground-effect aerodynamics but was somehow still missed by the majority of teams.

Cars need to be run as low to the ground as is possible to get the maximum effect from the underbody, but doing so can lead to bottoming out, raising the car back up and the cycle then continues, leading to the porpoising that affected the first-half of the season.

This lead to drivers worried about the long-term health impacts, especially after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix where Pierre Gasly revealed he had undergone an MRI scan while Lewis Hamilton gingerly clambered out of the Mercedes having lost feeling in his lower back.

But McLaren's Lando Norris has been candid in the impact and stress being placed on his lower back and the impact it has been having on his life outside the car.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Norris opens up on back concerns

"A lot of things have already been put in place, like I have made a couple of new seats already," Norris explained to media including RacingNews365.

"It was probably worse last year than it is this year, and almost every year until last year, I could get away with just hopping in the car and not doing any physio.

"It wasn't the best thing and I always did it, but I could get away [with not] doing it. Now I have to do it.

"I have to stretch all of these things, morning and evening, before every session. If I don't, then I always struggle a bit more with my back.

"It is not just racing, it is other things and it is something that I've had to work on in general anyway, but it's definitely not been helped by some of the changes on the car over the last couple of years.

"It got to a bad point last year, pretty bad. I was struggling with sleep and just in constant pain, but now I am in a much better position.

"But I am limiting a lot more of the things I do, I am still stretching, but limiting [the amount of] golf and playing a lot less because of my back and needing more physio.

"Some things have to crank up and something I have to pay the price for, like playing golf or other sports and walking, even track walks."

"It got to a bad point last year, pretty bad. I was struggling with sleep and just in constant pain, but now I am in a much better position.

- Lando Norris

Track walks

"As soon as I do a track walk, I struggle a lot so have had to cut down on track walks, do things that I maybe didn't realise but have helped me quite a bit and get into a better position snd struggle a lot less because I was struggling a lot every day and every night with quite a bit of pain.

"I'm happy now, I would love to play more golf, and with certain things like cycling and running my back hurts, so I still can't do everything I would want to do.

"But there's also things away from the track, I've just got to do more training for my core, lower back and glutes and things like that.

"It is more of a focus of I want to get better, I've got to do other things rather than just trying to make the seat better and hope the car somehow gets better over time. It is not going to be the case.

"I hope there wasn't any long-term effects, but a number of people have spoken up about it and said it. I know everyone is different and some people do, some people don't, but for my own health, it is something I need to look after."

McLaren's response

"We are following this matter very closely with Lando," team boss Andrea Stella explained.

"Some [input] will have to come from Lando in terms of understanding what his body requires, and how it needs to sit in the car to be comfortable and avoid these kind of issues.

"From our side, there's quite a lot of variables that we can play with, but we need to know exactly where we have to put our focus so it really is a work in progress.

"There's no revolution planned in terms of the seating position, how upright it will be and we are in the middle of that process.

"We will discover a bit more, but at the moment, it looks like it seems to be getting better, so we are hoping in a way that it will gradually fix itself thanks to the work Lando is doing, even adapting his lifestyle, which must be very, very painful for such a passionate golf player."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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