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Toto Wolff

Wolff admits reserve drivers could be on standby amid Hamilton back pain

Toto Wolff has some concerns about how the bouncing that is affecting Mercedes' cars is impacting Lewis Hamilton in particular, with the seven-time World Champion reporting back pain during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend.

Hamilton Baku
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Toto Wolff admits that Mercedes may need to have a reserve driver at the ready after Lewis Hamilton struggled with back pain during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The seven-time World Champion worked his way up to fourth in the race after qualifying in sixth, but looked to be in pain as he got out of his car at the end of the 51 laps.

Hamilton has since spoken about how he was relying on adrenaline to get him through the event, with the Silver Arrows continuing to experience porpoising issues at the Baku City Circuit.

Wolff acknowledges that the impact of the bouncing has been "really bad" for Hamilton, and believes that a solution for the problem needs to be found.

"We've just got to find a solution," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"At that stage I think he's maybe the worst affected from all drivers, but 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 for what that is."

In terms of whether the issue is porpoising or bottoming, Wolff explained: "I think they are very much linked together.

"We are seeing tracks where we have an aero porpoising, and then we have bouncing and then some cars bottoming, so it's not really clear. It's all interlinked with the aerodynamic performance of the floor."

Could a reserve driver be needed in Canada?

Given the pain that Hamilton spoke of experiencing after the Grand Prix in Baku, Wolff was asked whether he had any concerns about his driver not being able to race at the next event on the calendar, the Canadian Grand Prix, which takes place in just one week's time.

"Yeah, definitely," he admitted.

"I haven't seen him, and I haven't spoken to him afterwards. But you can see this is not muscular anymore, this goes properly into the spine and can have some consequences."

Wolff admits that the problem is not just exclusive to Hamilton, though, as he was quizzed on the possibility of having a reserve driver at the ready in case of any issues for the Briton.

"I don't think this is only Lewis' issue," the Mercedes team boss added.

"He's the one that is probably the worst affected, but generally it also affects George [Russell] and many others. So the solution could be to have someone on reserve, which we anyway have at every race, to make sure that our cars run."

The Silver Arrows' reserve drivers are Formule E champion Nyck de Vries and former F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

It is unclear which of the pair would be on duty in Canada, with Vandoorne having been on standby at Baku while de Vries competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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F1 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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