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Lewis Hamilton wasn’t exaggerating back problems in Baku – Daniel Ricciardo

Lewis Hamilton struggled with back pain in the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Hamad Mohammed/AP)
Lewis Hamilton struggled with back pain in the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Hamad Mohammed/AP)

Daniel Ricciardo insists Lewis Hamilton was not exaggerating his back injury after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and believes Formula One drivers do not deserve to go through “unnecessary” pain.

Hamilton’s participation at this weekend’s round in Canada was thrown into doubt after he required assistance to get out of his Mercedes cockpit following last Sunday’s race on the streets of Baku.

The 37-year old is expected to be fit to participate, but it is likely he will have to race through the pain barrier again in his bouncy Mercedes machine.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed Hamilton is under instruction to “bitch” about Mercedes’ porpoising problems in the hope of pushing through a rule change.

But in an interview with the PA news agency, McLaren driver Ricciardo said: “There was talk about Lewis after the race. I saw some of his on-boards, I saw pictures of him getting out of the car and stretching his back, and he wasn’t exaggerating. It really was uncomfortable.

“The good thing is that it is very visible. If you have the car’s audio, you can hear it jumping and bouncing, and from the images, you can see the helmet is moving around, too. It is not normal or comfortable.

“The position we sit in the car, we don’t have much room to move so we are not prepared for the impacts.

AUTO Azerbaijan
(PA Graphics)

“If that is up to a rule change, or the way the teams are setting up the cars, I am not 100 per cent sure. But I wouldn’t like anyone to go through any unnecessary injury or pain.

“We have spoken about it throughout the season, but with Baku being such a big one, I am sure it will get discussed in the drivers’ briefing on Friday.”

Hamilton has finished behind team-mate George Russell at every round since the first race and trails him by 37 points in the standings. The seven-time world champion has also been cast 88 points adrift of Max Verstappen.

But Ricciardo added: “I definitely think Lewis is as capable as ever.

George Russell is ahead of Hamilton in the championship standings
George Russell is ahead of Hamilton in the championship standings (David Davies/PA)

“We all knew George was quick, and it was just how quick is he? How good is he? And he is proving he is very good.

“But I also wouldn’t count Lewis out for having the ability to win this weekend for example. I don’t think he has lost anything, no, not at all.”

For Ricciardo, the eight-time race winner is under pressure to deliver with McLaren following an underwhelming one-and-a-half seasons with the British team.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown recently said that Ricciardo has not met his expectations, casting doubt over the former Red Bull driver’s deal which runs until the end of 2023.

Daniel Ricciardo insists Lewis Hamilton was not exaggerating his back pain after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo is under pressure at McLaren (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Ricciardo, speaking in his role as ambassador for crypto trading app and web3 platform OKX, said: “I would be more surprised if I was coming, say 13th, and everyone is like, ‘Dan’s killing it this year’.

“I know the team cares about me and therefore there is an expectation as to where I can perform and where my ability lies, so with Zak’s comment, I am well aware of how I am doing and I take it as a roundabout way of a compliment because he also believes I can be doing better.

“I am my biggest critic and I don’t take that stuff to heart. A bit of pressure is good. It is not something I take personally or negatively.”

:: McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo is an ambassador for OKX. OKX is a world-leading crypto trading app used by more than 20 million people in over 180 international markets.