Saturday, March 2, 2024

FIA to Find Additional Cooling Solutions after Drivers Suffer in Qatar Grand Prix

The FIA have said they will ensure a repeat of the Qatar Grand Prix, where multiple drivers were noticeably unwell post-race, does not happen amid high temperatures and humidity last Sunday.

Drivers were taken to their physical limit at the Lusail International Circuit, with Logan Sargeant withdrawing citing being unwell midway through the race, while the likes of Alexander Albon and Lance Stroll struggled to extract themselves from their cars. Esteban Ocon also revealed that he was sick early on during the event, while Valtteri Bottas called the race ‘torture’.

Max Verstappen and Oscar Piastri, who finished first and second, took plenty of fluids and sat down as they waited for post-race interviews to start, with both also sitting on the floor in the cool-down room as well.

The FIA released a statement indicating that they were concerned about the welfare of the drivers, believing they should not have been put under such conditions so to impact their health and safety, and that they will look into solutions to prevent a repeat happening in the future.

“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,” said the statement.

“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.” 

The 2024 Qatar Grand Prix is set to take place later in the year, which should see cooler temperatures, but they will still look into ensuring next years event will be run with safer conditions for the drivers.

“The FIA has begun an analysis into the situation in Qatar to provide recommendations for future situations of extreme weather conditions,” continued the statement.

“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. 

“A number of measures will be discussed at the upcoming 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, 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.”