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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Qatar Grand Prix takes a toll on Formula One drivers

Track temperatures during floodlit night race at the Lusail circuit never dropped below 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit), according to tyre supplier Pirelli, while daytime temperatures nudged above 40 degrees

Reuters Doha Published 10.10.23, 09:45 AM
Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen. File picture

Formula One drivers said the sport had reached a limit and needed to heed the warning signs after Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix ended with some on the brink of collapse, vomiting and with severe dehydration.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon said he had thrown up in his helmet early in the race, such was the heat and humidity, while Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll told reporters he almost passed out at the wheel.

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Williams’ Alex Albon was taken to the circuit medical centre after the race with acute heat exposure, and was later released, while teammate Logan Sargeant felt too unwell to continue and was treated for intense dehydration after stopping.

Others lay on garage floors to recover after the race.

“Today (Sunday) we probably found the limit,” said McLaren’s Lando Norris. “Sad we had to find it that way with some people ending up in the medical centre or passing out. A pretty dangerous thing.

“On TV it probably doesn’t look that physical but when you have people who end up retiring it is too much; for the speeds we are doing it is too dangerous.

“It’s something we need to speak about because it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

Track temperatures during the floodlit night race at the Lusail circuit never dropped below 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit), according to tyre supplier Pirelli, while daytime temperatures nudged above 40 degrees.

‘An oven’

Red Bull’s newly crowned triple world champion Max Verstappen said it was “way too hot to drive”.

Mercedes George Russell said it had been “absolutely brutal” and he felt close to fainting.

“I felt ill during this race. It was like you were inside an oven,” he added.

McLaren’s Australian rookie Oscar Piastri, who finished second, said it was “definitely the hardest race I’ve had in my life.”

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