When Lewis Hamilton told Mercedes engineer James Vowles that his seat had gone cold during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the reason for his discomfort was not clear in the paddock.
Till well after the race finished — late Tuesday in fact — the Silver Arrows were still unsure as to why the seven-time world champion had felt discomfort during the race.
No obvious problem in the car was observed. Hamilton was even asked by Vowles during the race as to why he felt the carbon fibre around him suddenly drop in temperature.
With adrenaline very much taking over and dulling the agony the 37-year-old was going through, Mercedes was no closer to understanding what the problem was.
Hamilton had to brave the discomfort and push his pain threshold to the limit.
It was only when the team returned to Brackley on Tuesday that it was able to understand exactly why Hamilton was in pain during race day.
Vowles confirmed that there was no problem in the car.
Rather, the cold sensation that Hamilton was feeling occurred as a direct result of the bouncing he was experiencing in the car, which was adding immense stress on his back.
“It’s a good question,” Vowles said when asked about Hamilton’s cryptic message during the race.
“I didn’t have an answer until I spent a few minutes with Lewis earlier to actually ask him.”
What went wrong for Lewis?
Vowles went on to detail exactly what went wrong for Hamilton.
“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.”
While there were some doubts over Hamilton’s participation in Montreal, the Stevenage-born driver has been quick to confirm his participation.
Part of the reason why Hamilton endured so much bouncing in Azerbaijan was due to the team trialling a new part on his W13.
Vowles was adamant that the Silver Arrows will not be testing Hamilton’s physical boundaries in Canada and admitted that they had put their driver through too much pain.
Should Hamilton be miffed?
He asserted that such a thing would not happen in the future.
“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 said.
“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.
“On this occasion, though we pushed the package and our drivers too far, we are putting them into significant discomfort and we simply can’t do that again.”
Vowles was quick to assert that this is not a problem that only Mercedes drivers are facing, pointing to other examples across the paddock.
“Our drivers are not the only ones suffering,” he said.
“You will see in the media a number of comments from a number of drivers who are equally in discomfort and pain.
“And we have a responsibility now to make sure that this doesn’t carry on.”