Lewis Hamilton has revealed that a neck problem almost caused him to not take part in the inaugural European Grand Prix in Valencia at the weekend – a race in which he again extended his lead in the Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship.
The McLaren-Mercedes star admitted afterwards that in addition to a bout of the 'flu on arrival in Spain, on the Saturday morning ahead of qualifying he had also been woken up in distinctly unpleasant fashion – leading to doubts over his participation in the grand prix.
“I've had a pretty miserable weekend, really,” he reflected, the end result notwithstanding. “I have had a few problems health-wise but still pulled through, and I had a great team behind me who helped me.
“I had the 'flu when I arrived, and I had pretty hard fevers pretty much every day and low energy. I also had quite a big problem with a spasm in my neck, which nearly did lead to me not racing this weekend. That was pretty tough.
“I only had it once. I just woke up very, very early [on Saturday], before 5am, and I had the spasm in my neck. Fortunately I've got a great doctor who was with me the whole way through it.
“It was so bad that I was struggling to basically stand up, and so I had to have injections in my neck and take plenty of painkillers. Fortunately, as I said, I have a great trainer who helped. Pedro [de la Rosa – McLaren test driver] was looking forward to racing!
“It won't be a problem again, I'm pretty sure, though it's still sore. It was probably something to do with my pillow, the way I was sleeping, because it was just when I woke up. I think I've done a pretty decent job, considering.”
That much is an understatement, given that the 23-year-old both qualified and finished in as runner-up to Felipe Massa – notching up another eight points from a race in which his McLaren was, as in Hungary, patently not the quickest car on the track. Had he been able to begin from pole position, though, he contended, it may just have been a different ending.
“I cannot complain with second place,” he affirmed. “We had quite a strong weekend. It is a nice new circuit and I've come here and got some good points and the team have got some good points, so overall it was a solid weekend for us.