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Mercedes engineer James Vowles has given an explanation as to why Lewis Hamilton’s seat went “cold” during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after speaking with the driver during the week. Hamilton was far from comfortable during last Sunday’s race around Baku.
Throughout the weekend, Hamilton complained of a bad back caused by the constant bouncing in the W13. During the race, Mercedes’ porpoising issues were clearer than ever as Hamilton and George Russell bounced down the long straight.
Toto Wolff even admitted before the race that he wasn’t sure whether Hamilton would be able to finish the full 51 laps. The 37-year-old was able to cross the chequered line in fourth, just behind team-mate Russell.
But he looked in serious pain as he gingerly climbed out of his cockpit after the race, holding his back as he walked away. A bad back wasn’t the only sensation Hamilton experienced during the Grand Prix though as Hamilton came onto team radio to say: “The seat has gotten cold!”
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Puzzled commentators speculated why that would have happened, particularly in the latter stages of the race in the blazing heat of Baku. The team were unable to find the cause until Hamilton was back at their Brackley base on Tuesday.
Vowles had a discussion with Hamilton and discovered that the cold sensation was related to his back problems.
“I didn’t have an answer until I spent a few minutes with Lewis earlier to actually ask him,” Vowles said on Mercedes’ YouTube channel. “What happened is: nothing really had changed in the car, it just looks like after the amount of pummelling his back had taken from the bouncing, he fundamentally had a numbness that set in and it looks like the cold was a response to that.
“There wasn’t anything colder in the car, it was just a response to the amount of endurance and pain he had been through in the race.”
Hamilton’s back pain from the race in Baku led to questions on whether he’d be fit to race in Canada this weekend. But Vowles has ended any speculation of Hamilton being replaced for the Canadian Grand Prix.
“I am pleased to report that Lewis is here this morning, I spent a few hours with him and he is okay, he will be back in the car in Montreal,” he continued. “He is an elite athlete that will push the bounds of endurance of himself and the car and that’s what Formula 1 drivers do, that’s what makes them exceptional.”
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