Formula 1 is in introspection following the scorching Qatar GP.
As he set foot at the Middle Eastern track on Thursday, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz remarked that the choice to race in Qatar during its fiery season was ill-advised.
“I know there is a different date next year, but yes (it was a scheduling mistake),” he told Spanish reporters on Thursday.
Champion Max Verstappen echoed: “Before the trip I looked at the temperatures and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it.”
By Sunday, their concerns proved valid, as a number of drivers struggled, committing more to the compulsory three-stop strategies due to another F1 oversight – the tyre-damaging kerbs.
Qatar’s circuit has been revamped – Formula 1 playing the role of the tester.
“The new asphalt was still sweating out all the oils,” said Verstappen, “so we looked a little stupid as a sport because we were just sliding around on the first day.”
Rookie Logan Sargeant withdrew from the race on Sunday due to extreme dehydration, and Lance Stroll promptly left his Aston Martin, dashing to an emergency vehicle plagued by vision issues.
“The body just couldn’t cool down,” Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas told Viaplay. “It felt like being in a sauna that you couldn’t get out of.”
George Russell was observed driving without his hands on the wheel as he sought to moderate his body temperature on the straights, whereas Esteban Ocon acknowledged vomiting in his helmet twice.
“I had to open the visor to be able to breathe. It was hell in the car,” said the Frenchman.
Charles Leclerc commented: “This was a step over the limit.
“If conditions like this happen again, we’ll have to come up with something.”
Post his podium finish, Lando Norris articulated: “It was too hot and much too dangerous. It’s something we need to speak about.
“It’s sad we had to find out this way.”
However, the FIA has addressed the timing concern, with the upcoming Qatar GP in December, after the peak heat concludes.
But for this season, “It’s something that should have been thought of. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” said Norris.
Oscar Piastri, positioned behind Max Verstappen, sensed that Formula 1 nearly faced an even graver scenario.
“I think Thursday was like four or five degrees hotter than it was today,” said the McLaren driver. “So in that sense, we’re almost a little bit lucky it wasn’t worse.
“Obviously we need some discussions – I think about a lot of things from this weekend.”