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After many drivers suffered in ‘extreme heat and humidity’ of Qatar Grand Prix, FIA to consider changes

<i>Hasan Bratic/picture-alliance/dpa/AP</i><br/>Stroll said he was drifting in and out of consciousness during the race.
Hasan Bratic/picture-alliance/dpa/AP
Stroll said he was drifting in and out of consciousness during the race.

By Sam Joseph, CNN

(CNN) — Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, has said it will take action to protect drivers’ safety after some of the sport’s stars reported of vomiting and being close to collapse during Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix.

Temperatures in the cockpit neared 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) at the Lusail International Circuit, Mercedes driver George Russell told Sky Sports after the race. Reuters reported that tyre supplier Pirelli said track temperatures did not drop below 36C (96.8F) during the night race.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon revealed that he vomited in his helmet during the race and described conditions as being “like a sauna,” while Williams rookie Logan Sargeant retired from the race on Lap 41 after suffering from intense dehydration, his team said. The heat had, the team said, exacerbated the “flu-like symptoms” that he had already been suffering from.

Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll stated after the grand prix that he had been “passing out in the car,” while Stroll and Williams driver Alex Albon were seen struggling to get out of their cars post-race.

Mercedes’ Russell, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, told Sky Sports it was “by far the most physical race I’ve ever competed in.”

“Today we probably found the limit,” McLaren’s Lando Norris said, per Reuters. “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.”

The FIA issued a statement on Monday saying it had started an analysis of the situation to “provide recommendations for future situations of extreme weather conditions.”

“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,” the statement read. “While being elite athletes, they should not be expected to compete under conditions that could jeopardise their health or safety.”

The statement pointed out that the 2024 edition of the Qatar GP would take place later in the year, on December 1, when temperatures are expected to be cooler.
However, the FIA said it wanted to take “material action now” to prevent the situation from occurring again.

“A number of measures will be discussed at the upcoming medical commission meeting in Paris,” the statement 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.”

Sunday’s Grand Prix was the second F1 race to be held in Qatar, and the first as part of an agreement that will see the sport head to Lusail every year for a decade.

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