George Russell branded the race “beyond the limit of what is acceptable”
The FIA has begun a review into Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix after drivers complained of racing in dangerously high temperatures.
George Russell branded the race “beyond the limit of what is acceptable” as temperatures in the drivers’ cockpits exceeded 50 degrees for a contest which lasted one hour and 28 minutes.
Canadian driver Lance Stroll said he faded in and out of consciousness because of the extreme heat and humidity during the 57-lap race in Lusail and was also seen stumbling towards an ambulance moments after he emerged from his Aston Martin.
London-born driver Alex Albon was treated for acute heat exposure at the on-track medical centre, while his rookie Williams team-mate Logan Sargeant was forced to park his car through illness. Alpine’s French driver Esteban Ocon also vomited during the race.
This was only the second staging of the Qatar race and the first of a 10-year deal which, in the region of £45million each season, is among the most lucrative for the sport’s American owners Liberty Media.
Next year’s edition will be held two months later in December when it is expected to be cooler, but governing body the FIA acknowledged action must be taken now to avoid a repeat of the scenes.
It said in a statement: “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 well-being 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.”
The FIA said measures would be discussed at the upcoming medical commission meeting in Paris, which could include guidance for competitors, research into modifications for more efficient airflow in the cockpit and recommendations for changes to the calendar to fit with acceptable climate conditions.
Research from cross-country events in extreme climates will also be examined for potential applications to track races.
Russell, 25, who is director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, revealed he came close to blacking out after driving back from last to fourth following his first-corner crash with Lewis Hamilton.
He said: “(Sunday) was beyond the limit of what is acceptable.
“Over 50 per cent of the grid said they were feeling sick, couldn’t drive and were close to passing out.
“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.”
McLaren driver Lando Norris, 23, who finished third, said: “We found the limit (on Sunday) 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.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub