Toto Wolff makes FIA appeal to help Lewis Hamilton avoid brain damage – “They must do something about it”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff makes controversial statements from time to time and his latest comment on seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton is sure to raise some eyebrows.

Wolff spoke to journalists about how porpoising that teams have experienced this season, with special emphasis on Mercedes, has the potential to lead to severe brain damage.

Mercedes got its car design wrong at the start of the season and has been playing catch up to rectify things ever since then.

During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Hamilton left his Mercedes W13 holding his back due to the high amount of porpoising the car experienced on the circuit.

It prompted a change in regulations by FIA after claims that it could impact drivers’ physical health, potentially leading to long-term injuries.

For those unaware of the term ‘porpoising’, it refers to the bouncing effect when cars achieve high speeds combined with ground effect, which thereby ends up creating a motion similar to a porpoise through water.

“I still believe that the FIA and all of us must do something about it,” Wolff said.

“Frequencies of 1 to 2 hertz that last for a few minutes can cause brain damage. We have 6 to 7 hertz for several hours.”

Smoother tracks in recent weeks may well have put the issue of porpoising on the sidelines, but it is likely to be only temporary refuge for the drivers.

Ever since porpoising has become less of a factor, Hamilton has performed better and ended up notching five consecutive podium finishes.

The FIA has already informed teams that it will make minor alterations during the summer break that should alleviate some of the stress the drivers’ bodies feel due to porpoising.

Horner disapproves of changes

Christian Horner. Credit: skysports.com

For Red Bull boss Christian Horner, this is far from the direction he wanted the FIA to take, especially since it has allowed Mercedes a chance to claw its way back in the constructors’ championship.

“I think there just needs to be a common-sense solution, not rewriting the rulebook for next year at a point of the year, with budget caps where they are, which is just too late,” Horner said.

“I think it’s actually an even bigger issue for some of the smaller teams that quite simply wouldn’t have the resources to react.”

Hamilton will hope the changes hinted by FIA will continue to work in Mercedes’ favour as he still awaits his first Grand Prix win of the season.

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