Lewis Hamilton has called out his fellow drivers, including team-mate George Russell, by insisting that they should be able to bear soaring temperatures after several complaints were made following the Qatar Grand Prix. Williams driver Logan Sargeant retired from the race as he felt unwell in the cockpit, while Alpine’s Esteban Ocon reported throwing up inside his helmet due to the testing conditions at Lusail.
Several drivers also went to the FIA medical centre for checks after the race with heat exhaustion and dehydration taking their toll on their wellbeing. Temperatures were said to have reached around 40C, with drivers also wearing thick, fire-proof overalls to protect them in the event of a crash or fire.
Russell even claimed the temperatures were “beyond the limit” and said he was close to retiring himself, while Lando Norris agreed by describing conditions as “too dangerous”. Their collective remarks prompt a response from the FIA who said it would “take all reasonable measures to establish and communicate acceptable parameters in which competitions are held.”
It could be another sweltering race in Austin on Sunday, with temperatures expected to soar to 34C on Friday. But Hamilton – who retired on the first lap after a collision with Russell – believes he and his colleagues simply need to get fitter and accept that extreme conditions are part and parcel of being an F1 driver.
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“I’m going to be controversial as always,” Hamilton said in the Drivers’ press conference on Thursday. “Obviously I didn’t do the race, so didn’t get to feel the pain that the drivers felt. But I have obviously been here a long time. Malaysia was much hotter than that race and I know what it’s like to lose four or more kilos in the race and barely being able to stand afterwards.
“My feeling towards it is… this is an extreme sport. You don’t have marathon runners who are passing out after the marathon, saying you have got to make it shorter. This is an extreme sport and we are paid very highly for what we do and from my perspective when I’ve not been feeling great at the end of the race, I’ve just got to train harder and that’s how it’s been for me.”
Hamilton has also insisted that the FIA need to be ‘careful’ in how many changes they make to race weekends in shortening races and being more strict on track limits, pointing to examples with Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna as a warning to the world motorsport governing body.
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“I don’t personally want them to shorten the races and make it easier for us. I want it to be extreme,” he added. “I want to feel the difference, I want to feel pain in my body, I want to be able to, hopefully with that extra bit of training that you put in or that extra bit of dedication that you have had, helps you get that extra lap and win that race. That’s what this is about.
“We have got to be careful how we move with changes. We have got track limits and all these big runoff areas. Back in the (Ayrton) Senna days, you go over the kerb, it’s grass and you pay the penalty. It’s like, ‘let’s not get too soft!’
“Of course, if I was in the race, I would have struggled to get out afterwards also. But, I love that. That makes it closer to what it was back in the day, where Mansell was passing out after a race – this is extreme and we are supposed to be elite athletes and to be elite, you need to be pushing to the limit.”
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