FIA to investigate “extreme” Qatar GP heat and take steps to ensure driver safety

Formula 1

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The FIA has outlined the steps it will take to ensure drivers are not endangered by “extreme” weather conditions following yesterday’s Qatar Grand Prix.

Several Formula 1 drivers suffered badly in yesterday’s race at the high-speed Losail International Circuit, which began in temperatures of 31C and saw humidity in excess of 75%.

Logan Sargeant, who had been unwell earlier in the week, chose to retire before the end of the race. Esteban Ocon threw up in his helmet during the grand prix, but finished. Other drivers reported feelings of faintness, dizziness and dehydration.

In a statement the FIA said it “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,” it said. “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.”

The FIA is analysing the circumstances of yesterday’s race and intends to “provide recommendations for future situations of extreme weather conditions.”

Following the race several drivers and team members pointed out that the race has a December date on the 2024 F1 calendar, and therefore should take place in cooler conditions than this year. Nonetheless the FIA said it “prefers to take material action now to avoid a repeat of this scenario.”

“A number of measures will be discussed at the upcoming medical commission meeting in Paris,” it continued. “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, amongst others.

“Research from other series, such as cross-country events in extreme climates, will be examined for potential applications to circuit events. The FIA’s commitment to closer cooperation between technical, safety and medical departments under the leadership of the FIA president will facilitate this process.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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31 comments on “FIA to investigate “extreme” Qatar GP heat and take steps to ensure driver safety”

  1. While the November-December switch as part of F1’s long-term regionalization plan (which means the event will again have bearable climatic conditions, like in 2021, from next season onwards) is already good, other steps are also useful & concerning future race calendars with all four Middle East events already at suitable times for decent weather, some other locations with hot & or humid conditions in certain months or phases should get avoided at those times for precautionary purposes.

    1. Three in a row on the @jerejj show… 3, 4 and 5

      1. What do these numbers even mean?

        1. JOA20 Beats me as he still hasn’t bothered to enlighten his unclear number references.

        2. JOA20, that particular poster seems to be particularly smug about some sort of invented ‘rules’ he’s made as part of his sustained harassment of Jere.

          1. Indeed he does – nasty little person

    2. Or how about, I have a better idea – just don’t race in half of the useless Middle Eastern venues. Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are more than enough.

      1. Seems like a decent plan there @pironitheprovocateur!

  2. Didn’t they have a race in Argentina some 60 years ago where the ambient temperature was something crazy like 50°C+?
    I know g-forces were just a fraction of today’s cars, but also the drivers were in much worse shape and the races longer too… so this is not really new.

    1. It’s new for most people alive today, including (most importantly) every single driver. After all, the only reason to hold a race there is greed. If drivers have their share of that greed, then let them boil; it’s their choice. The sand doesn’t care for racing…

    2. some racing fan
      9th October 2023, 21:35

      Yes, in 1955 and 1977. Back then the Argentine GP was held in January, when it is super hot in Buenos Aires, and the ambient temperature was 40C (104F) and the track temperature was 51C (124F) on both occasions. The 1955 race was so hard that Fangio was the only driver to actually finish the race without handing his car off to someone else (you could do that then), and the searing temperature of his Mercedes’s bodywork burned his thigh so badly it took him 3 months to recover.

  3. It will be interesting to see how quickly the drivers bodies recover, as they can continue to break down, have organ impacts etc after the event.

    Often this kind of heat stress manifests itself a day or two after the stressing event resulting in a need for hospitalisation/IV treatment.

    Hopefully no one ends up with any serious effects. Given their levels of fitness it’s doubtful, but it’s certainly on the extreme end of the scale.

    1. DB, you are quite right that heat stress often takes its toll days later. As recently as August, in the USA, a fit and healthy 19 year old American Football college player, Myzelle Law, suffered heatstroke during a practice session, a seizure in the locker room, and sadly died a week later. It is thought that 11 football players have died over the past five years as a result of heat stress, and the sport has been quick to change in response, such as using coastal locations and early morning time slots for training sessions, and requiring all teams to have ice baths available for immediate treatment of thermal stress. Athletes are advised that acclimation is importnat in avoiding heat stress. F1 drivers fly into a country just a couple of days before an event and get no opportunity to acclimate.

  4. I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Lewis looked fine at the end of the race.

    1. Maybe because he only drove until T1 & coincidently, Sainz was lucky he suffered a DNS & in hindsight, so was Ricciardo lucky he received a forced break from driving.

  5. Best spot for this race is outside of the calendar. What’s the point of racing there, other than greed?

    1. How that different to any other event on F1’s calendar?

      1. No one can seriously ask this question.

        1. Why not? You didn’t even answer it.

          Other than Vegas and Monaco, which calendar slots aren’t primarily about profit for F1? And even including those two, in fact.
          Money is the same no matter who it comes from.

  6. Will they hand a 5 sec penalty to the heat now?

    1. Probably just a reprimand

    2. Mandatory 3 stop race for venues that regularly exceed 30 degrees centigrade.

  7. Fia Report On Qatar hot conditions.
    FIA: Yep, it was hot.

    1. More likely FIA recommend changes, then
      FOM / Liberty ignore recommendations for “the good of the show”

  8. ‘In a surprise move, the FIA announced that next year’s Qatar GP will be moved to later in the calendar when conditions are cooler as the idea of moving it physically does not allow any sports washing’

  9. The human body cannot withstand the grueling heat, especially driving an already hot car. Just give up on the race or schedule it for three in the morning in january

  10. FIA Press release

    We need to combat the very real threat of climate change… by racing in the desert in late summer.

  11. I know a solution: Not driving there in the first place.

  12. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    10th October 2023, 17:41

    Reactive vs proactive. Bery dangerous race.

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