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Friday, December 1, 2023

Why Qatar GP was “hell”, “torture” for F1 drivers

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Drivers are tremendous match athletes, and thus the state of a few of them once they met the media having walked straight from parc ferme instructed its personal story.

Others had been cautious to quietly head again to their crew hospitality buildings, catch their breath, change out of their soaking overalls and have a bathe. They then returned to undertake media duties feeling slightly extra refreshed.

Two by no means made it. Logan Sargeant was forced to pull out of the race, whereas his team-mate Alex Albon additionally needed to go the medical centre for remedy after climbing from his automotive. Each had been later given the OK to move to the airport and fly residence.

They had been removed from the one ones to endure in what become essentially the most bodily punishing race in latest reminiscence.

“That was the toughest fought factors that I’ve ever needed to struggle for,” stated Ocon. “I used to be feeling unwell, lap 15-16 I used to be throwing up for 2 laps contained in the cockpit, after which I used to be like, ‘Shit that is going to be a protracted race.’

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“I attempted to relax, I attempted to keep in mind that the psychological facet in sport is the strongest a part of your physique, and I managed to get that underneath management and end the race.

“However actually, I used to be not anticipating the race to be that onerous. I can usually do two race distances, even in Singapore. Bodily muscle-wise and cardio-wise I am all the time high-quality.

“It was so sizzling that I wished to open the visor on the straight line, as a result of I had no air, and I used to be making an attempt to additionally information with my hand some air into the helmet.

“The extra I used to be respiration to try to get all the things decrease, the extra warmth was coming contained in the helmet. Truthfully, it was hell in there.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Picture by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas, a person not averse to sitting in a sauna, agreed that it was a tricky take a look at.

“I’d say more durable than Singapore,” stated the Finn. “Simply the temperature within the cockpit appears to be virtually an excessive amount of, prefer it’s attending to the restrict that someone’s going to have a warmth stroke.

“The sensation is like torture within the automotive. Any hotter than this is able to be not protected anymore.”

So why was this race extra punishing than Singapore, and certainly more durable than different established occasions within the area reminiscent of Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia?

The straightforward and apparent principal reply was the final degree of warmth and humidity. There have been good explanation why the 2024 World Cup was held from November 20 onwards.

It is price recalling too that the 2021 Qatar GP was held on November 21, and the 2024 version is scheduled for December 1. Nonetheless, this 12 months’s race was squeezed right into a busy schedule in early October, and that timing ought to maybe have been given better consideration.

Situations gave the impression to be extra excessive on Sunday than at any level in the course of the weekend, with little or no wind. It additionally felt extra humid in comparison with the dry warmth we often expertise on the different Center Jap F1 venues.

Regardless of it being a night race, the automobiles themselves soaked up the warmth and labored like ovens on the drivers sitting within the cockpit.

Fernando Alonso complained of a burning sensation coming from the proper facet of his seat, often a sign that it is near an digital field or hydraulic traces.

He’d highlighted it beforehand, however on this specific race, it grew to become so sizzling that he requested if the crew might dump water on him in the course of the pitstop, nevertheless it would not work as a result of it could be illegally including weight to the automotive.

“It was identical to 80 levels contained in the cockpit this race,” stated Ocon. “I do not suppose we in all probability do the very best job by way of not protecting the warmth within the again, however dissipating it contained in the cockpit the place the motive force drives. And I feel that was the rationale in all probability in the present day the place we felt so unhealthy.”

It wasn’t simply the warmth. The g-forces are a key side of the punishment a driver takes, and the high-speed nature of Losail is a tricky take a look at anyway, particularly with the present excessive downforce automobiles.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Picture by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

This time there was the added aspect of the 18-lap stint restrict and the necessity to do three pit stops.

For this one race, F1 successfully returned to the Michael Schumacher period of a number of ‘qualifying’ stints run flat out, with little or no have to handle the tyres.

Throw in a scarcity of security automotive interventions after the preliminary one for Lewis Hamilton’s Flip 1 off, and it grew to become an unusually punishing take a look at.

“I feel essentially the most important half is the truth that we needed to do three stops,” stated Charles Leclerc. “And that meant no tyre administration within the excessive velocity, which meant quali laps after quali laps.

“It is simply the dehydration is such a degree that your imaginative and prescient is a lot worse, your coronary heart fee goes to the celebrities, and it is very tough to regulate all of this. So it was actually, actually tough.”

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Leclerc’s level on dehydration was important. Radio messages had been heard on Sunday with drivers being reminded to take a drink, however as many have stated prior to now, the contents of their water bottles shortly warmth up and turn into ineffective.

Dehydration is clearly a key aspect of the punishment drivers take, and it might probably have an effect on focus and focus. That made life notably tough at a venue the place observe limits, and hitting the white line good each lap, was such an enormous problem.

Ultimately, it says rather a lot in regards to the bodily and psychological energy of the drivers that each one bar one made it to the flag.

“It is not an possibility retiring, I used to be by no means going to try this,” stated Ocon. “You could kill me to retire.”

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