Lewis Hamilton hasn't exaggerated his back problems in Azerbaijan

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has come forward to say Lewis Hamilton didn’t exaggerate his back pain at the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Australian has become a supportive voice behind drivers who have criticized the extreme extent of porpoises on certain cars after what for some was a painful weekend in Baku.

With the aerodynamic phenomenon being particularly severe on the long, bumpy straights of the Baku City Circuit, Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell spoke of the need to make changes to alleviate the problem.

Other drivers, such as Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly, have also raised concerns about the potential for long-term damage to drivers as their backs are punished by cars bouncing on the straights.

Hamilton could be seen struggling to climb out of his Mercedes W13 after crossing the finish line in fourth place after complaining on team radio about a “cold back” – Mercedes has since said there was no other reason for Hamilton’s back to go numb than porpoise-related deafness.

Ricciardo, who himself said he was “shattered” when McLaren encountered porpoises in Azerbaijan, said he had started to feel the same issues teams like Mercedes are facing and has since spoken out more about the issue.

“After the race, people talked about Lewis,” Ricciardo said in an interview with the Press Association.

“I’ve seen some of his on-boards, I’ve seen pictures of him getting out of the car and stretching his back and he wasn’t exaggerating. It was really uncomfortable.

“The good thing is that it is very visible. If you have the audio of the car you can hear it jumping and bouncing and in the pictures you can see the helmet is moving too. It’s not normal or comfortable. The position we sit in the car, we don’t have much space to move around, so we’re not prepared for the bumps.

“I’m not 100% sure whether that’s due to a rule change or how the teams set up the cars. But I don’t want anyone to suffer unnecessary injury or pain.

“We’ve talked about it all season but with Baku being so big I’m sure it will be discussed in Friday’s drivers’ briefing [at the Canadian Grand Prix].”

Hamilton’s season has been tough throughout, even aside from the physical pain he endures while driving. His new team-mate Russell was consistently faster in qualifying and on race day and has secured a 37-point lead over Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship.

Still, Ricciardo said he has every confidence the seven-time former world champion is still at the peak of his powers and simply needs the machinery to show it.

“I definitely think Lewis is as capable as ever,” he said.

“We all knew George was fast and it was just ‘how fast is he? How good is he?’ And he proves that he is very good. But I wouldn’t count Lewis for example for winning this weekend either. I don’t think he lost anything – no, not at all.”

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