It may have been a few weeks ago now, but the heat at the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix is still generating headlines, with several key Formula 1 team figures weighing in on the matter.
The race took place at night just north of Doha but the heat, combined with intense humidity, made for a potent and almost dangerous mix of conditions for the drivers to race in.
Indeed, the Qatar circuit is one of the quickest on the calendar, with plenty of high-speed turns, and a mandate from Pirelli that stated drivers must make three stops in the race to change tyres meant that the action was flat out from start to finish.
A culmination of these factors, then, left most of the field feeling unwell during, and after, the chequered flag, with the likes of Esteban Ocon throwing up in his crash helmet, Logan Sargeant retiring because he felt so unwell, and many others needing medical attention because they were so dehydrated.
In Austin, it was one of the prevailing storylines, and several of the most high-profile names at various teams on the grid were asked for their thoughts on the issue.
F1 team bosses give thoughts on Qatar heat
Interestingly, Guenther Steiner warned against taking any reactive action, whilst others, including Aston Martin boss Mike Krack, wondered what the solutions could be for such extreme circumstances.
“I think the topic is the topic of the week,” Krack told the press.
“I think the GPDA and FIA are in exchange and we have to see what happens over the coming weeks. It is true that in other categories you have you have different devices.
“So I think it’s something that over the next weeks we have to sit together with all the parties involved and come to a good conclusion.
“I think it’s in the interest of nobody to continue like this and the drivers need to be more comfortable if we want to have them extract everything and I think we should work together to achieve that.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown weighted in and highlighted the fact that driver safety is paramount, and something all the teams, F1 and the FIA are aligned on.
“I think the teams and drivers have a great ability to have different views on different topics but I think when it comes to safety everyone’s aligned and so you’ll get all the smart people in the room together to come up with a solution,” Brown said.
“I think everyone recognises that wasn’t a good situation, so we’ll get all the right people working together to figure out what’s the best solution and I’m very confident that’ll happen.”
Meanwhile, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff pointed out that the conditions in Qatar weren’t normal and somewhat backed his driver Lewis Hamilton, who had said that F1 is an extreme sport, so extreme conditions should be expected.
“That was, for me, the most extreme driver situation in terms of heat soak that I’ve seen so far,” Wolff said. “And I think there are some hardcore people that would say ‘well, that’s what the job brings’ and to a certain degree, that’s right.
“You need to be able to train for these extreme situations, but then maybe that one was maybe a step too much and it was unanimous from most of the drivers saying that we can’t do that.
“And if we can find a solution with the FIA and with the drivers to just cool the cockpit a bit more without drilling big holes into the cockpits, which would then again bring up a situation of what is it actually we need to change and how does it affect the technical regulation?”
Finally, Haas boss Steiner offered a slightly contrasting view, suggesting the sport should not be hasty with changes after just one Grand Prix.
“I agree with all that was said and I think to take the good thing out there, it’s not the plan, next year, to have Qatar at this period of time,” Steiner said. “The risk that we have a similar situation from the calendar is pretty low, at least.
“And now we know about it we cannot do it so I think we shouldn’t overreact to find technical solutions.
“I think we need to stay grounded and see is there a risk or not or can we avoid it by adjusting the calendar which I think is easiest way to do it.”