FIA consider changes over extreme weather after 'dangerous' Qatar QP

FIA to consider changes to deal with extreme conditions after ‘dangerously hot’ Qatar Grand Prix which saw Esteban Ocon vomit inside his helmet and Lance Stroll pass out

  • The FIA are to consider changes to the Qatar GP after extreme heat conditions 
  • George Russell claimed over 50 per cent of drivers were affected by the heat 
  • Lance Stroll faded in and out of consciousness while Esteban Ocon was sick 

The FIA have confirmed that action will be taken after complaints of ‘dangerous’ heat during the Qatar Grand Prix.

Drivers raced in gruelling heat in Qatar, with temperatures reaching over 50 degrees inside the cockpit, with over half the grid ‘saying they felt sick, couldn’t drive and were close to passing out’.

In the case of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, the Canadian admitted to fading in and out of consciousness during racing conditions, while Alpine driver Esteban Ocon did well to finish seventh despite vomiting inside his helmet on lap 15 of the 57 lap race.

London-born driver Alex Albon had to be treated at the medical centre for acute heat exposure while his Williams team-mate Logan Sargeant retired as he could not cope with the conditions having already felt ill earlier in the week. 

The FIA have now confirmed that the matter will be looked into, despite the Qatar Grand scheduled to take place in December next year – when conditions are expected to be cooler. 

The FIA is to consider changes after claims of dangerous heat at the Qatar Grand Prix (a shattered Max Verstappen posted after winning the 57-lap race on Sunday) 

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon vomited inside his helmet 15 laps into the race but finished seventh

Williams driver Logan Sargeant retired after suffering from intense dehydration

The statement read: ‘The FIA notes with concern that the extreme temperature and humidity during the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix had an impact on the wellbeing of the drivers. 

‘While being elite athletes, they should not be expected to compete under conditions that could jeopardise their health or safety. The safe operation of the cars is, at all times, the responsibility of the Competitors, however as with other matters relating to safety such as circuit infrastructure and car safety requirements, the FIA will take all reasonable measures to establish and communicate acceptable parameters in which Competitions are held.

‘As such, the FIA has begun an analysis into the situation in Qatar to provide recommendations for future situations of extreme weather conditions. 

‘It should be noted that while next year’s edition of the Qatar Grand Prix is scheduled later in the year, when temperatures are expected to be lower, the FIA prefers to take material action now to avoid a repeat of this scenario.’

Max Verstappen won the Qatar Grand Prix on a weekend where he had already been crowned as a triple world champion.

The Dutchman looked visibly shattered after the race, while second place man Oscar Piastri had to lie down on the floor as the top three waited to go out onto the podium.

George Russell was the most vocal of the drivers, with the Mercedes driver saying that the race was ‘beyond the limit of what is acceptable’.

The 25-year-old, who is also director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said: ‘Over 50 per cent of the grid said they were feeling sick, couldn’t drive or were close to passing out.

Lance Stroll admitted that he faded in and out of consciousness during the race

‘You don’t want to be passing out at the wheel when you are driving at 200mph, and that is how I felt at times.

‘If it got any hotter I would have retired because my body was ready to give up.’

Russell also compared the ‘brutal’ experience to driving in a ‘sauna’ after just 20 laps of the 57-lap race. 

McLaren driver Lando Norris, 23, who finished third, said: ‘We found the limit today and it is sad we had to find it this way.

‘It is never a nice situation to be in when people are ending up in the medical centre or passing out.

‘It is not a point where you can just say, ‘the drivers need to train more’. We are in a closed car and it gets extremely hot.

‘Clearly, when you have people who end up retiring or in such a bad state it is too much. It is too dangerous.

‘I know that next year this race is later on in the season, and it will be cooler, but it is still something that needs to be addressed. I am sure we will speak about it because it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.’

George Russell said over half the drivers said they felt sick, couldn’t drive or were close to passing out

Rookie Oscar Piastri wipes the sweat off his head after finishing second in the Qatar GP

Fans meanwhile have commented for the race to be scrapped with one writing: ‘Totally agree with George, the race is ridiculous, has to be held at night as its too hot in the day, and this was the race the FIA decided it would be a good idea to force a mandatory 3 stop in! 

‘So you had a circuit with a short fast straight and endless fast corners, temperatures above 50, and a 3 stop requirement to add to all the pressure and pace. Ridiculous, scrap this track of the calendar. Look at the three winners, all in their early 20s super fit and struggled to walk after.’ 

F1 personalities such as ex-driver and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle said it was races like Qatar which make the drivers ‘look the heroes and athletes they are’.

He posted on X, formerly Twitter: ‘It’s races like Qatar and very rainy days which make F1 drivers look the heroes and athletes they are. Absolutely don’t buy into the weak view we shouldn’t put them through this kind of challenge. Check out (Ayrton) Senna in Brazil, (Jackie) Stewart at rainy Nurburgring, (Niki) Lauda post crash, etc etc.’

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