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Record crowds are expected to welcome Formula One’s return to Canada after a two-year pandemic hiatus, and the series returns to Montreal’s Gilles-Villeneuve circuit in a bid to rectify the pains of Mercedes and its 37-year-old champion.
The FIA finally addressed on Thursday the impact of “porpoises” that have hampered many of the new 2022 cars, most notably Mercedes and Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton.
But F1’s governing body only moved after the Briton was seen cautiously climbing out of his car in Baku, Azerbaijan, after three days of hopping up and down around the track.
“My back hurts so bad!” Hamilton once shouted it over the radio last Sunday.
Both he and teammate George Russell warned that their car’s bouncing was putting their health at risk – and potentially creating a safety risk – and Hamilton said he completed the pace on pure adrenaline.
He said, “That’s the only thing. Just gnawing my teeth through the pain. Just adrenaline.” “I can’t express the pain you’re feeling. In the end, you just pray that this ends.”
He posted a picture on Thursday of physiotherapist Angela Cullen helping him to stretch and said it was the first day he had been able to run since the race in Baku. Around the same time, the FIA announced a technical directive that would force teams to raise their cars higher off the ground in an effort to combat recoil.
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The FIA said it decided to intervene “after consulting with its doctors for the safety of drivers. In a sport where competitors routinely drive at speeds above 300 km/h (186 mph), it is considered that all of the driver’s focus should be on this task and that Excessive fatigue or pain experienced by the driver can have serious consequences if it leads to a loss of concentration.
“In addition, the FIA has concerns regarding the immediate physical impact on the health of drivers, a number of whom have reported back pain following recent events.”
Hamilton, who lost the Formula 1 title last year to Max Verstappen at the controversial season finale, has struggled all year with the new Mercedes. He is sixth in the standings and has scored just one podium, and is routinely ahead of Hamilton’s younger teammate Russell. The 24-year-old is fourth in the standings with three podiums.
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Red Bull boss Christian Horner has questioned whether Mercedes is not overusing porpoises to cover its 2022 undercarriage. Others have suggested that Mercedes itself could ease the financial burden on Hamilton and Russell through setup changes — modifications that run counter to the competitive advantage he is looking for. Team with current configurations.
F1 last competed at Gilles-Villeneuve in 2019 because the series was unable to compete in Canada during the first two years of the pandemic. The return is the hottest ticket in Montreal and the series expects the three-day Canadian Grand Prix weekend to attract the largest crowd in history.
Sunday’s race was sold out, and after adding two new grandstands, F1 said organizers were expecting a record 320,000 fans over three days.
F1 is heading into only its ninth race of the season and jobs are at risk. Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi is the one whose future may be decided this weekend.
The Williams driver will race his first home race, but there is speculation that Sunday’s race could be his last with the team. The driver from Toronto has zero points and is 21st in the ranking – in the field of 20 cars. Nico Hulkenberg took Sebastian Vettel’s place in the first two races of the season and overtook Latifi, so he took a higher place in the standings.
Latifi admitted that his seat is not safe. It’s a similar situation at Haas, with team boss Guenter Steiner saying sophomore driver Mick Schumacher must improve.
Schumacher didn’t score a point and missed the race due to an accident, and now Schumacher’s supporters keep the Haas boss’ outspoken criticism of the young German player unhelpful.
Meanwhile, at McLaren, the only thing that is clear is that Daniel Ricciardo should start running closer to the front.
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Both the team and driver agree they have a contract until 2023, but chief Zak Brown has acknowledged the “mechanisms” each side carries that could theoretically free McLaren from retaining the famous Australian next year.
Ricciardo finished eighth last week, one point ahead of teammate Lando Norris, and kept his job safe.
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He said in Baku: “My contracts are clear with the team, until the end of next year, I am fully committed. I have expressed that for sure. And now it is clear that he is just on the right track to showcase and show these moments and these races that I know I am capable of.”
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