Martin Brundle under fire for ‘not helpful’ Qatar Grand Prix comments

Thomas Maher
Sky F1 broadcaster Martin Brundle walks through the paddock at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Sky F1 broadcaster Martin Brundle walks through the paddock.

Martin Brundle’s comments regarding the conditions of the Qatar Grand Prix have been addressed by a physiological expert.

Last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix was held in extremely hot and humid conditions that resulted in most of the drivers calling it out as being borderline in acceptability, or a step too far in terms of what it put their bodies through.

The conditions resulted in Logan Sargeant retiring due to feeling unwell, Alex Albon seeking medical evaluation following the end, Esteban Ocon vomiting into his helmet, and Lance Stroll revealing he had been ‘passing out’ behind the wheel.

What did Martin Brundle say?

While the drivers were all complaining about the conditions, some downplayed the huge challenge of racing in such extreme temperatures and humidity.

Red Bull’s Christian Horner said the conditions were ‘what the drivers train for’, while Sky F1 commentator Martin Brundle believes that, whether it is battling through extreme heat or navigating rainy conditions, this is where the drivers truly demonstrate what “heroes” they are.

“It’s races like Qatar and very rainy days which make F1 drivers look the heroes and athletes they are,” he posted on social media. “Absolutely don’t buy into the weak view we shouldn’t put them through this kind of challenge.

“Check out [Ayrton] Senna in Brazil, [Sir Jackie] Stewart at rainy Nurburgring, [Niki] Lauda post-crash, etc etc.”

Pointed out to him that it’s a safety concern, given that drivers were near fainting point behind the wheel, he said: “I really appreciate your view but this is a highly regarded and paid challenge and that’s why there are (currently) only 20 F1 drivers in the world. It’s a dangerous and brutal business, deliver or leave, there are plenty more willing to take the chance.” recommends

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Respected expert: Martin Brundle’s comments ‘not helpful’

Speaking in an extended interview with, Associate Professor in Environmental Physiology at Roehampton University London, Dr. Chris Tyler, believes opinions like Brundle’s are somewhat dismissive of the genuine challenge that was put on the drivers.

In the interview, which will be published in full on Wednesday on, Dr. Tyler explained how drivers can train to improve their ability to handle the extreme stresses of races such as what unfolded last weekend in Qatar.

“You certainly can. Humans are very good at adapting to the heat,” he said.

“It’s not a quick process so you need at least a week and, ideally, more than that, but you can make physiological adaptations.

“When you do that, the subsequent effects are less. I’ve been working with a couple of drivers over the last few years to do just that, primarily with Singapore in mind.

“So although Singapore’s a night race, it’s another one where the heat and the humidity are stifling. We prepare them for it. We’ll get them in cold water immersion before the race, and lower their body temperature, so you certainly can do things.

“I can see where [Brundle and Horner] are coming from. Because the idea is you’re always trying to push the limits. If you’re Christian Horner, it’s probably easier if you’ve got the driver who has the best car and no traffic. He didn’t find it as stressful as the rest.

“But there comes a point that it can still be a challenge. It can still be the pinnacle but with some considerations. If you’re an elite runner, or if you’re an elite tennis player or elite footballer playing in the heat, what you tend to do is down-regulate your pace. So the best tennis players, the best runners or the best footballers, are the ones that lower it the least. So they’re conserving a bit of energy, they’re not producing as much heat. They might be playing different tactics, in tennis, they might play short points rather than long points. They might make their opponent really run because they want to really tire them out.

“You have less room for that in F1 because the cars are set up to drive fast. They are some of the best athletes in the world. Some of them are more athletic than others, but they are still very well-prepared.

“But you get to the point that it almost becomes who is willing to find that limit first. That is a recipe that doesn’t generally end particularly well. There are simple common sense things, you can reduce the strain, and move the race to a different time of the year.”

Dr. Tyler pointed out that, while a challenge to the drivers should be welcomed, placing them in physiological danger – or pushing the limit to find that breaking point – is a step too far.

“You can still have the race, they don’t have to be under huge physiological danger,” he said.

“If there was a sudden heatwave, you could make an executive decision on the Sunday to reduce the number of laps or something. You could do something which maintains the sport, and maintains the challenge, but does it with a little bit of common sense before something more severe happens.

“American football used to have a problem with heat, particularly during pre-season training. They’ve made wholesale changes now as a result of a number of athletes becoming seriously ill and some even dying. So it’s pleasing to see the FIA being pre-emptive. Comments like those from Brundle are not particularly helpful, because we don’t need to find the line, we know the line isn’t a million miles away from where we got to. So you can still have the sport without that bit of it.”

Read’s full interview with Dr. Chris Tyler.

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