QATAR GP – FIA launches investigation into extreme conditions to avoid a “repeat scenario”

News & Analysis

The FIA has announced an investigation and measures to ensure there is no repeat of drivers pushing themselves beyond the physical limit like in Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix. The excessive heat and flat-out nature of the race at Losail on Sunday left drivers facing one of the biggest challenges of their careers, which they described as “hell” and “torture”.

Following the race in Lusail, Some drivers needed medical attention after a race run in temperatures of more than 30C and high humidity. While other reported post-race feeling dizzy, sick and fainted. Three drivers where Logan Sargeant retired due to feeling “sick”, Alex Albon headed to the medical centre and didn’t attend the post-race media activities, while Lance Stroll nearly fainted when getting out of his Aston Martin following the race.

Mercedes driver and GPDA director, the trade union which represents drivers, George Russell called the Qatar Grand Prix “brutal”. The humidity, temperatures which were in excess of forty degrees and the high-speed corners made the race incredibly tough for the drivers.

Lando Norris reckoned that the way the event had played out was right on the edge – as he made clear he did not think it had been safe.

On Monday, the FIA  released a statement saying: “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.”

However, it noted that next years  Grand Prix is in December, the FIA says it is acting now to avoid a “repeat scenario”. The governing body says it will also discuss measures to avoid a similar situation to that in Qatar when it holds a medical commission meeting in Paris.

“Measures may include guidance for competitors, research into modifications for more efficient airflow in the cockpit, and recommendations for changes to the calendar to align with acceptable climatic conditions, among others,” said the FIA.

The feeling I have about the conditions is while these are extremely fit and healthy drivers the conditions were similar to heavy rain, does the FIA need to draw up a new directive like we saw following Jules Bianchi’s fatal accident? We know we don’t go to Austin in June for similar reasons.

The FIA I put it well I think this needs to be about learning lessons from other series for example desert rallying, so we can race in these places. It looks to me to be under the direct reporting to President Mohammed Bin Sulayem.

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