FIA to look at F1 calendar changes after Qatar GP 'extreme weather'

Disturbing images from Doha showed several drivers on the verge of collapse and looking severely dehydrated after the chequered flag

Race winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull wipes himself down with a towel after driving in 'extreme weather' conditions in Lusail. Getty
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The FIA says it will look into calendar changes and introduce measures to protect Formula One drivers from the sort of extreme heat and humidity they suffered during Sunday's Qatar Grand Prix, it said on Monday.

Disturbing images from Lusail showed several drivers on the verge of collapse and looking severely dehydrated after the chequered flag.

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon said he had vomited in his helmet while Williams' rookie driver Logan Sargeant was unable to finish the race after falling ill. The American's teammate, Alex Albon, was also taken to the medical centre and treated for acute heat exposure.

The International Automobile Federation said in a statement it had "begun an analysis into the situation in Qatar to provide recommendations for future situations of extreme weather conditions.

"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.

"Research from other series, such as cross-country events in extreme climates, will be examined for potential applications to circuit events."

The FIA said measures would be discussed at a meeting of its medical commission in Paris.

The track temperature during the night race at the Lusail International Circuit, where Red Bull's Max Verstappen claimed a third world title, never dropped below 36º Celsius, while daytime temperatures exceeded 40º.

Mercedes driver George Russell described the extreme heat as "brutal" and said he "felt close to fainting".

The FIA noted that next year's race in Qatar will be held in December, when temperatures should be lower, but said it preferred "to take material action now to avoid a repeat of this scenario."

"While being elite athletes, they should not be expected to compete under conditions that could jeopardise their health or safety," it said.

The inaugural Qatar Grand Prix in 2021 was held in late November. There was no race in 2022 due to the country hosting the Fifa World Cup.

The calendar, which now has four races in the Middle East, is put together by the commercial rights holder and then approved by the FIA.

The Middle Eastern rounds are usually scheduled at the beginning and end of the calendar to avoid the hottest months. Next year's calendar is scheduled to have a record 24 rounds.

The season-ending Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a day-night race, takes place November 24-26. Average temperatures range from a high of 30º in the daytime and 21º during the evening.

Updated: October 10, 2023, 6:23 AM