Jenson Button calls on current F1 drivers to ‘speak up’ over Qatar heat problems

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen, Red Bull and Oscar Piastri, McLaren, sit down after a gruelling Qatar Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull and Oscar Piastri, McLaren, sit down in Qatar.

Jenson Button says the Formula 1 drivers must make their voices heard over the Qatari heat issue, otherwise, nothing will change.

Racing at the Lusail circuit in early October, the end of Qatar’s summer, several drivers suffered heat-related health issues during the 56-lap grand prix.

Esteban Ocon threw up in his helmet just 16 laps into the race, Logan Sargeant was forced to retire due to extreme dehydration, and Lance Stroll revealed he was “passing out” in the car.

Heat, humidity, and high Gs created ‘dangerous’ Qatar situation

There were unconfirmed reports that a few drivers fainted after the race while Williams revealed Alex Albon sought medical attention due to the extreme conditions.

The FIA has since announced they have begun an analysis into the situation “to provide recommendations for future situations of extreme weather conditions.

“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.”

Button reckons it was a perfect storm between heat, the temperature hovering around the 40’C mark, humidity, which was over 60%, and the high G-forces the drivers experience throughout a lap of the Lusail circuit.

“I didn’t feel how hot it was, but one of the bigger problems with Qatar is that these guys are at high G all around the track,” he said as per Autosport. “The heat… I mean, we’ve had a lot of hot races in the past.

“But I think the biggest issue is for them that their bodies were at such high lateral G, for so long, that you can’t breathe. They’re not able to get the oxygen into the blood, so that’s the biggest issue.”

But while the 2009 World Champion is not sure what the best solution could be, he has urged the drivers to make their voices heard as such extreme condition scan create a “dangerous” situation.

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“You can’t do anything, apart from air conditioning, and you’ve never heard of that in an open-cockpit car,” he added.

“IndyCar has a closed kinda cockpit, and it’s clearly hot in those cars, and I know they don’t have power steering, so I know it hurts them too. But then they don’t pull them same G forces as an F1 car pulls [on a road course].

“When I raced NASCAR in Austin, I almost stopped in the race. I said to the team, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ – I was just so hot. So different cars have different issues with heat.

“Until drivers speak up, they won’t change it.

“I remember racing F1 in Malaysia, when my water bottle broke, I had big issues in the race. You start shivering and then you lose your vision.

“Then it gets dangerous, so I’ve felt how bad it can be.”

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