F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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A doctor has expressed concern about Lewis Hamilton’s long Covid diagnosis, saying that the Englishman will face particular difficulties if races take place in extreme heat. Hamilton was visibly exhausted after the Hungarian Grand Prix and struggled to get up onto the podium after the race.
Hamilton spoke to journalists about his condition immediately after the race. He said: “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.”
Sports doctor Karin van der Ende-Kastelijn spoke to GP Blog about long Covid and how it is likely to affect Hamilton and in turn, his title race with Max Verstappen.
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Van der Ende was particularly keen to emphasise just how problematic hot temperatures will be for Hamilton even if his condition isn’t overly serious.
He said: “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.”
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Autonomous dysfunction is the deregulation of the nervous system which subsequently causes problems with blood pressure. Such an issue can cause dizziness, particularly when suffered in high heat or if Hamilton is dehydrated- which he would be after a full F1 race where drivers can lose three litres of water in just a couple of hours.
Part of what makes long Covid so difficult to deal with is its relatively new nature and the lack of scientific knowledge with regards to how best to treat it.
Van der Ende offered some suggestions of what Hamilton and other sufferers can do to aid the situation, but noted that there are no guarantees.
He said: “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.”
Hamilton is using F1’s three-week mid-season break to rest more than usual as he hopes to be in better shape when the sport returns. He currently leads Verstappen by eight points in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
The Belgian Grand Prix is the first event back with first practice taking place on August 27 at Spa-Francorchamps.
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