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Toto Wolff apologises for ‘s__tbox’ Mercedes after Max Verstappen wins Azerbaijan GP



Lewis Hamilton was left barely able to extract himself from the car after a brutal Azerbaijan Grand Prix after which his boss Toto Wolff was forced to apologise for the difficulty in driving the car.

Hamilton finished the race fourth, once again behind Mercedes team-mate George Russell, while Max Verstappen took victory to extend his lead at the top of the World Drivers’ Championship.

The British driver meanwhile is sixth in the standings, has not finished on the podium since the first race of the season, and now finds himself battling a back injury caused by the violent “porpoising” – high-seed oscillations of the entire car – for which team principal Wolff apologised over the radio in Baku.

“Lewis we all know this is a bit of a s__t box to drive and sorry for the back,” Wolff said.

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“We will sort ourselves out.”

Hamilton said he thought that Mercedes had fix the problem last month in Spain, where he finished fifth, but the high-speed street circuit in Azerbaijan left him requiring acupuncture and treatment from his physio Angela Cullen just to get through the weekend.

“I was still in quite a bit of pain on Saturday morning,” Hamilton said.

“Now we don’t have it [porpoising] as bad at the end of the straight but it is the corners where you are trying to keep it out of the wall.

He added: “Nothing we seem to do, like we have changed so many things but we just can’t seem to…

“It is a phenomenon we just cannot get our heads around. It is the same thing underneath the car that keeps on coming back. Honestly, on Friday we had so much bottoming I could not finish my long runs because my back was in a real mess.”

Russell, in a Mercedes for the first time this year, has fared a little better and has now finished ahead of the seven-time world champion on all bar one occasion this season, adding his third podium in Baku by virtue of a double retirement for Ferrari.

“You have got to be there at the end to pick up the pieces,” said Russell

“The cars are going through a torrid time with the bouncing and I am pleased to bring it home in third.”

He had been outqualified by pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and fellow Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, who started fourth, but a power unit and hydraulic failure respectively ended their races prematurely.

Russell was not the chief beneficiary; Sergio Perez had overtaken Lecelrc at the first corner before eventually allowing Max Verstappen through into the lead but when he pitted, the Monegasque found himself in the lead once again, only for his hopes of victory engine to expire dramatically in a plume of white smoke.

“It hurts,” said Leclerc. “We really need look into it for that to not happen again.

“I don’t really find the right words to describe obviously. It’s very, very disappointing. We really need to look into it.”

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