Formula One

Dehydration in Qatar for several drivers: “You could feel it was different…”

The start of the Qatar GP of 2023
Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

There were plenty of talking points after the second edition of the Qatar GP. One was the tyre issues that plagued Pirelli and forced it to set limits on the laps each team could run each tyre set during the race. Another though was the very difficult conditions the event was run in, with air temperature exceeding 30 degrees during the race which was run in night time.

The drivers that felt the worse effects of dehydration in Qatar

There were plenty of cases of drivers feeling unwell in their cars. The first such case was the one of Logan Sargeant, who was feeling unwell for several laps before it all became too much and he parked his car. Another was the one of Fernando Alonso, who felt his seat getting way too hot and requested water to be thrown at him during his stop, something that was deemed unsafe though.

Then there was Lance Stroll. The Canadian was battling for points in the latter stages of the races and crossed the line in ninth. A couple of time penalties dropped him two places and out of the points though. He attributed it to everything becoming blurry for the last 25 to 30 laps and even almost passing out on fast corners. He was also feeling extremely unwell after the finish, something that was apparent when he exited his car:

Other drivers with problems were Esteban Ocon, who threw up in his helmet around lap 15 because of the conditions, but fought bravely to finish seventh. Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas also struggled late on, but reached the finish, as did Lando Norris, who claimed he was on the limit.

Leclerc: “Some drivers really felt bad”

After the race, Charles Leclerc spoke about the race and the conditions. He elaborated on the reasons behind the drivers struggling physically during the race and claimed that no physical preparation could help the drivers, as it simply was a dehydration issue because of the temperatures and the intensity:

I think there were many things adding up. Obviously, the heat was extremely warm, we have a track where there are lots of high-speed corners. But I think the most significant part is the fact that we had to do three stops and that meant no tyre management in the high speed, which meant quali laps after quali laps.

This, I think, maybe next year if we find ourselves in the same situation we’ll have to discuss in between us drivers. We can always look at each other at the end of the race when we are sat down and this time you could feel it was different. Some drivers really felt bad.

This is something we maybe will have to discuss because at one point, it’s not even a physical preparation, it’s just dehydration at such a level that you and your vision is so much worse. Your heart rate is going to the stars and it’s very difficult to control all of this so it was really, really difficult.

It’s difficult to put into words and to explain how tough it is. Especially with the G-forces. When you have a lot of dehydration you can drink, but the drink is more tea than anything else because it’s at 60-plus degrees. So it’s extremely difficult to hydrate yourself and again, with the G-forces you don’t see as well.

Qatar recently signed an agreement that will keep it in the calendar until 2030. The good news for the drivers though is that next year’s Qatar Grand Prix is scheduled to take place on December 1st, when temperatures would be at a much better level.

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