Mark Webber says there was a “lot of strife” evident as he walked through the post-Qatar Grand Prix parking lot with the drivers clearly suffering as they climbed out of their cars.
Held at the end of the Qatari summer, the Formula 1 drivers suffered through heat and humidity during the 57-lap Grand Prix and they were not helped by a minimum three-stop strategy that meant qualifying-esque laps from start to finish.
While Esteban Ocon revealed he threw up in his helmet just 16 laps into the race, Logan Sargeant was forced to retire with extreme dehydration, and Lance Stroll was “passing out” in his car.
Mark Webber calls for changes after drivers ‘on the ropes’ in Qatar
According to reports several drivers fainted after the race while in-car camera footage showed Stroll and Alex Albon struggling to climb out of their cars with Williams thanking Alfa Romeo as their mechanics rushed over to help Albon.
Race winner Max Verstappen and runner-up Oscar Piastri also took strain with Verstappen sitting on the floor to lean against the wall in the cooldown room while Piastri lay down on the floor.
The McLaren driver’s manager Webber says Piastri called it his “hardest race” but was somewhat relieved to notice that other drivers were also “on the ropes”.
“He says this is the hardest race he’s done in his life,” Webber told Channel 4, “I mean, he hasn’t [had] that many obviously.
“But it was reassuring I think for him to hear that there were a lot of other people on the ropes as well and big time.”
The former F1 driver saw the “strife” first-hand as he walked past parc ferme while the drivers were parking their cars after the grand prix.
“Myself and DC [David Coulthard] walked through the area where the drivers come out a car immediately and there was a bit of a war zone causing a lot of strife,” he said.
“But these top three guys also, they don’t get to the sort of fluids, they can’t get to the people, their trainers and things.
“I think there’s a few lessons where they immediately they need a bit more hydration, just something cold to start with after that length of race.”
Qatar conditions were ‘very, very borderline’
Craig Slater reported that “two or three drivers have their own accord of taking themselves to the medical centre because of dehydration” such were the conditions.
Williams later confirmed that Albon was one of those, his team-mate having retired in the race due to ill health, while Lance Stroll was spotted stopping his AMR23 right next to an ambulance with the Aston Martin driver saying he was “passing out” in the car.
Sky Sports’ Naomi Schiff felt the conditions were “very, very borderline”.
“If you put all of those factors together between the temperature, the humidity, everything that they’re dealing with out there on track and then the high-speed nature of the track and how much G force is going on the body, it’s a lot for them to deal with,” she said.
“And I think when you’re asking whether or not it was safe out there, clearly they all made it, other than Logan Sargeant, to the end. They all made it pretty much unscathed.
“But I would say it is very, very borderline and it’s a lot to deal with anyway in the cockpit with these conditions aren’t as tough.
“I mean, I remember days where you’re getting dehydrated in the car, you get things like cramping in your car when you’re trying to brake, or cramping in your forearms. It’s really uncomfortable to drive when you in those types of conditions.”
The FIA has since announced that it will firm up guidelines on what may or may not be acceptable conditions for going racing in extreme weather scenarios in the future.
“The FIA has begun an analysis into the situation in Qatar to provide recommendations for future situations of extreme weather conditions,” read a statement issued on Monday.
“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.”