Esteban Ocon was sick in his car during the Qatar Grand Prix but continued and finished seventh; Lando Norris criticised the decision to hold the race in October; F1 returns with the United States GP - live on Sky Sports F1 from October 20-22
Monday 9 October 2023 12:56, UK
Esteban Ocon revealed he threw up during the Qatar Grand Prix, while Lando Norris called the race conditions "too dangerous".
The humidity, temperatures which were in excess of 40 degrees and the high-speed corners made the race incredibly tough for the drivers.
Another factor was the 18-lap limit on tyres which led to a minimum of three pit stops, so the drivers pushed harder during the Grand Prix, which was won by Max Verstappen on Sunday.
"I was throwing up by lap 15, 16. For two laps I think," Ocon told Sky Sports F1 after finishing seventh for Alpine in Qatar.
"I was doing that and thinking 's***, it's going to be a long one'. Get it under control just mentally and just focus on what I've got to try and do.
"I've never had that in the past. I've always been able to do two race distances in the car, that's what I've always been training for, but today it was just the hot air and how hot the engine is from behind the car.
"I don't think we particularly sealed the cockpit too well. It must have been like 80 degrees inside the car. I'm glad that next year we come back here in December."
The inaugural Qatar Grand Prix in 2021 took place in November and next season's event will also happen at that time of the year, when conditions should be cooler.
Lando Norris, who made it a hat-trick of podiums with third place on Sunday behind McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri, was very outspoken on the conditions.
"I think we probably found the limit. I think it's sad we had to find it this way. It's never a nice situation to be in. Some people are ending up in the medical centre or passing out," he said.
"It's a pretty dangerous thing to have going on. But it's not a point where you can just go, 'the drivers need to train more' or anything like that.
"We're in a closed car that gets extremely hot in a very physical race and it's frustrating I guess on TV. It probably doesn't look very physical at all.
"But clearly when you have people who end up retiring, or are in such a bad state, it's too much. For the speeds we are doing is it is too dangerous.
"I know that this race next year is later on in the season and it will be a lot cooler, a few months later, but it's something needs to be thought of. I'm sure we will speak about it because it kind of shouldn't have happened in the first place."
Piastri added: "Extremely hot. Even from from the beginning, I put my helmet on before the start of the race and I was sweating. It definitely didn't get any better once I was driving! Very hot.
"It was a combination of a lot of things - the humidity, having three stops meant we were pushing flat out and just the nature of the track - there's a lot of high-speed corners that just naturally take its toll. Definitely the hardest race I've done."
Logan Sargeant was one of several drivers in Qatar to suffer from dehydration and stated he felt "sick" on the radio during the race.
Sargeant, who is the only driver on the grid without a contract for next year, initially pushed on, before retiring with 16 laps to go.
"Following Logan's retirement from the Grand Prix, he has been assessed and cleared by the medical team on-site after suffering from intense dehydration during the race weakened by having flu-like symptoms earlier in the week," said Williams.
Alex Albon was also taken 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.
Stroll crossed the line in ninth place, but was demoted to 11th due to track limits penalties.
"It's disappointing not to take any points away having raced so hard in such physically demanding conditions," said Stroll.
"The temperatures we faced out there were extreme - more so than any other event - and there are lots of tight corners here so you're constantly battling the g-forces."
Verstappen dominated the race and compared the Qatar Grand Prix to Miami and Singapore - two other places F1 visit that seriously test the drivers physically.
"When I saw the weather before coming here, I was not looking forward to it. It's just too warm and like Lando said, it has nothing to do with more training or whatever," said the three-time world champion.
"I think some of the guys who are struggling today, they are extremely fit or even fitter than me. Just the whole day, it's like you walk around in a sauna and in the night, the humidity goes up. The races are quite long.
"But it's not the only place...a few places are like that. Singapore is almost like a two-hour race and it's very, very warm. I think it's also quite on the limit of what should be allowed. So there are a few things to look at, but this was definitely way too hot."
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who was fifth, told Sky Sports F1: "I think everybody [struggled], no exceptions. I think it was the toughest race of our careers as drivers.
"The heat was absolutely crazy. Secondly, we've got a lot of high-speed corners. And, third, which I think is the most significant thing, is adding three stops. We were all speaking about tyres that it would be a full-push race for tyres with little management.
"But I think we maybe underestimated that that meant we were under so much more stress in the high-speed corners, which is normally not the case.
"It's difficult to put into words how difficult it was. It was twice as difficult as a race like Singapore in the past."
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