Lewis Hamilton explained that he has been struggling with long covid, after requiring medical attention for mild dizziness and exhaustion after finishing third in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who started from the race in pole position, led a chaotic opening lap, but Hamilton’s advantage at the front was washed away after the race was red-flagged due to the Turn 1 pileup that eliminated four cars and Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
However, before the race was restarted, the track dried, with the remaining runners pitted for dry tyres, but in a bizarre twist, Hamilton stayed out on the intermediates and restarted the race as the only driver on the starting grid.
One lap later, Hamilton switched to the dry tyres and charged through the pack, going from 14th to 3rd after duelling with former teammate Fernando Alonso in what was a fantastic battle between the ex-teammates.
But after the race, Hamilton looked visibly exhausted on the podium. The reigning champion required medical attention from the Mercedes team doctor for exhaustion and mild dizziness, delaying his appearance at the FIA press conference.
Speaking after the race, Hamilton didn’t rule out the symptoms related to long Covid after contracting the disease after last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
“It was definitely tough. We always make it difficult for ourselves and crazy to think we were the only ones on the grid at the start but these things happen and we learn from them. I gave it everything and I had nothing left at the end. I’m ok, had real big dizziness and everything got a bit blurry on the podium. I’ve been fighting all year really with staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year and it’s still, it’s a battle.”
“I haven’t spoken to anyone about it but I think [the effects of covid are] lingering. I remember the effects of when I had it and training has been different since then. The level of fatigue you get is different and it’s a real challenge. I continue to train and prepare the best way I can. Today, who knows what it is? Maybe it’s hydration, I don’t know, but I’ve definitely not had this experience. Had something similar at Silverstone but this is way worse."
With championship leader rival Max Verstappen finishing a distant tenth after struggling with a damaged RB16, Hamilton regained the lead as Formula 1 hits the summer break, with Hamilton happy to hit the front after a tough first half of the season.
“We came here this weekend and we definitely didn’t know how it was going to go and considering the circumstances today, I’ll take it [the championship lead],” he said.