Hamilton’s Raised Mercedes Bounces Champ to Needed Podium | Sports News

Written by Gina Fryer, AP . Motorsports Writer

The roar of the fans was what Lewis Hamilton missed, and so it was fitting that when he desperately needed a boost, he heard it from the biggest crowd in Canadian Grand Prix history.

Montreal is, after all, the site of Hamilton’s first Formula 1 podium. That was 15 years, 103 wins and seven world championships before — practically another lifetime given the horrific start Hamilton and Mercedes have had this season.

Mercedes’ new built to F1’s 2022 spec is miserable to drive; Hamilton’s back is hurting from all the rebound, in part because Mercedes left it low to the ground for maximum performance. This search for downforce has created a “porpoise” effect that, at the very least, poses a risk to drivers’ long-term health.

Hamilton admitted he’s had more headaches than usual in the past few months, but if it’s partial concussions, he doesn’t know. He uses his own physical therapist, takes painkillers, and along with his new teammate George Russell, drives any car Mercedes offers them.

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But it must have felt like rock bottom a week ago in Baku, when the 37-year-old struggled to get out of his car after jumping 190 miles on the streets of Azerbaijan. The F1 board intervened last Thursday with technical guidance issued by the FIA ​​to tackle porpoises.

Steering swept Gilles Villeneuve into rear politics, and rivals found it odd that Mercedes responded quickly to a late notice in time for Friday’s opening practice.

In the end, Mercedes used technical guidance to try out the new settings on Friday, but it only made their cars worse. So, on Saturday, the team did what their rivals have been complaining about all along: Mercedes raised the ride height and Hamilton’s fourth-place qualifying effort was his best of the year. He then finished third Sunday to claim his second podium in nine races this season.

It was Sir Lewis Hamilton when he jumped out of the car, not the veteran struggling to fend off his younger teammate and keep leaders in sight. Hamilton listened to the crowd – F1 said a record 338,000 fans turned up over three days in the series’ return after a two-year pandemic hiatus – and immediately addressed the crowd.

“How are you, Montreal?” Asked. Later, he thought about what Sunday’s ending – his first podium since the season’s opening in March – meant for him in this terrible season.

“I haven’t been on the podium for a long time,” he said. “So, especially since I had my first visit here in 15 years, going back there and getting to experience the energy from the crowd was very reminiscent of my first year here. I am very happy with that.”

Will Hamilton now be competitive enough to defend his British Grand Prix victory when Formula One kicks off in two weeks’ time? Mostly not. Mercedes still lacked the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari, and even after raising the ride height in Montreal, the cars continued to bounce.

“We still have a liar, that’s not going away,” Hamilton said. “And I really hope, moving to Silverstone, it is a very important race for us and for me, I just want to be in a fight with these guys. We will get there eventually.”

Russell, who has beaten Hamilton in seven of nine races this season, was not encouraged after finishing fourth. He said the porpoise drilling was likely “less intense” than Baku because of Montreal’s smoother surface but that Mercedes “still crashes to the ground”.

“The general issues inherent in the 2022 cars are far from resolved,” Russell said.

He also criticized Mercedes’ pace and said the qualifying and race results were misleading because the speed deficit against Red Bull and Ferrari “was still too big”.

“We’re still a long way from where we need to be, and yes, we haven’t made much progress yet,” Russell said.

Their rivals will tell you that Mercedes simply missed the mark on its 2022 design and amplifies driver health concerns to push the FIA ​​to make rule changes.

Although other drivers, including Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, have admitted to stealing pigs, no team has faced quite like Mercedes. And if Mercedes is so interested, rival teams have openly thought, why not raise the ride height to provide better comfort for their drivers? (Answer: the lower the ground level, the faster the car).

“This is a Formula One car. This is not a Rolls-Royce. Drivers should be aware of this,” said Franz Tost, former driver-turned-head of AlphaTauri. They have to stay at home, in the living room, and sit in the chair, and then they can participate in the races on TV or wherever. I don’t know.”

Otmar Szafnauer, head of the Alpine region, was quite frank: “We tend to just run the car at an altitude that still gets the performance we need, but doesn’t injure or hurt the drivers or destroy the car.

“We are running it safely. I think every team has this opportunity to do that.

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