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'If Hamilton has long covid, problems could get worse in race'

'If Hamilton has long covid, problems could get worse in race'

13-08-2021 11:38 Last update: 17:33
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GPblog.com

After the Hungarian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton was no longer the Lewis Hamilton we know when he has won. The seven-time world champion stepped out of his W12 after having driven about 300 kilometres and was visibly out of breath when he spoke afterwards. It had everything to do with long covid, which the Briton appeared to suffer from. GPBlog.com talked about it with sports doctor Karin van der Ende-Kastelijn.

Hamilton needed half an hour to regain his energy after the race at the Hungaroring. The Mercedes driver missed the first part of the press conference. He joined in later and told the journalists that he has been struggling with long covid for some time.

"I was suffering from dizziness and everything became a bit blurry on the podium. I've been fighting with my health all year, trying to stay healthy after everything that happened last year. It's still a fight. I haven't talked to anyone about it yet, but I think it's dormant. My training has been different since then and the level of fatigue is different," Hamilton revealed. Lewis himself suffered coronavirus in November last year.

Autonomic dysfunction in Hamilton

According to Van der Ende, it is not surprising that Hamilton developed complaints in Hungary. The circumstances in Budapest were very hard. The temperatures rose to 35 degrees. "It has been very hot there, so if he indeed has long covid, it does not have to be a serious condition for it to cause problems. If you also see the level at which he performs, to get to such a performance you just have to be one hundred percent. If you are a few percent less, then you already notice it of course. But it could be that he has an autonomous dysfunction with long covid. In a race like that, that will only be exacerbated and the symptoms can then be expressed."

So what exactly is autonomic dysfunction? "What we see a lot in people with long covid is that they have autonomic dysfunction. That is actually the deregulation of the nervous system that also controls blood pressure. These people suffer very much for example from dizziness when they stand up quickly and these symptoms worsen with heat, exertion or dehydration," she states. Hamilton met all three of these factors on August 1st.

No medicine for lung covid

The tricky thing about long covid is that it cannot be solved with medication and that it behaves quite unpredictably. "You can't make it better with a pill. Patients should above all drink enough and eat more salt than average. Furthermore, they should lie down as little as possible, because getting up often causes immediate complaints. Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure that will make things better from one week to the next."

Van der Ende saw in May during the warmest period of the year in the Netherlands that many long covid patients had a relapse. For Hamilton, he also had a relatively tough time with the warm temperatures in Hungary. Possibly, the teammate of Valtteri Bottas hopes for cooler conditions the rest of the 2021 season when he and Max Verstappen will decide who will become world champion in Formula 1.

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