Certain F1 drivers ‘poor physical preparation’ for Qatar GP

There’s no doubt a number of freak circumstances combined to make the Formula One 2023 Qatar Grand Prix on that will live long in the memory for some of the drivers. The pyramid kerbs designed to stop the drivers exceeding track limits and requiring the stewards to consistently issue deleted lap time warnings and penalties failed to do the job intended.

Further, because the kerbs had not been tested properly by the FIA, two were positioned at extremely high speed sections of the circuit where the drivers were using them for a considerable time which led to concerns from Pirelli they were damaging the structure of the tyres.



FIA ignore Pirelli advice

Throw into the mix this was a Sprint weekend with a reduced tyre allocation from the regular 13 to 12 and that by the end of the Sprint the longest stint anyone had delivered was 19 laps, Pirelli could not be certain how the tyres would fair even with the re profiled turns 12 and 13 designed to keep the drivers away from the danger.

This led to F1’s tyre supplier recommending the FIA issue an edict that no tyre should be run for longer than 18 laps during the Grand Prix. Pirelli had warned the FIA 6 moths ago they were concerned about the kerbs in Qatar, but it appears their advice was ignored.

So the race on Sunday was turned into a set of sprint hints where the drivers unusually pushed flat out on each set of tyres without the more relaxed periods of tyre management they would usually employ during a Grand Prix.

Add to all this there were scheduling issues this season, which saw the race in the desert held during the back end of the summer with daytime ambient temperatures reading above 40 degrees celsius.



Flat out Grand Prix racing, for once

During the race Williams driver Logan Sargeant reported feeling extremely unwell and his team principal James Vowles ordered him to retire the car. Sargeant had little chance of scoring points and so this was clearly a sensible decision.

Oscar Piastri drove a remarkable race took his opportunity to jump from 6th to 2nd following the carnage caused by Lewi Hamilton at the first corner. Yet the rookie Australian explained to David Coulthard during the podium interviews, “that was definitely the hardest race I’ve had in my life.”

“It was hot. Like Lando said with the three stops it was basically flat out. So it was 57 qualifying laps which I definitely feel I have done.”

Esteban Ocon revealed to the media after the race he had been sick inside his helmet as ear as lap 12, but he ‘gave himself a talking to’ and battled on to finish in the points.

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Russell accepts privileged position

George Russell seemed drained when interviewed in the media pen stating, “it was by far the most physical race I’ve ever competed in. It was insane how hot it was. It was like being inside an oven.”

Yet the only Mercedes driver to finish the race seemed in good humour over the conditions he had faced, rather than distressed or complaining it was a bridge too far.

Russell further explained he trained in Sauna’s to the point where he can’t take anymore for events like Singapore and Qatar where the heat and humidity is high.

Yet he refused to criticise the organisers or complain the F1 drivers should not have to endure such circumstances recognising he is part of an elite company who are privileged to do what they do.

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Verstappen ‘not toughest race’

“It was borderline too much. It was pretty crazy But I’m doing what I love – there’s far worse positions to be in right now,” laughed Russell.

Max Verstappen was asked whether this was the toughest race in his career, but the world champion dismissed the notion that the race in Qatar was exceptional.

“One of. Top five probably,” he told Coulthard.

I prefer we push as long as we can on a tyre – and not have forced pit stops. We design cars to be good on tyres so today we couldn’t optimise that fully cos that’s normally our {Red Bull] strong point ,” said the newly crowned World Champion.



‘Poor physical preparation’ says Rosberg

Verstappen’s comments make interesting reading and demonstrate the modern Formula One cars are not designed to be driven flat out from start to finish. Further, it appears amongst one of the most elite groups of drivers in the world some are not capable of coping with a full Grand Prix distance at full pace.

Nico Rosberg believes some of the drivers may not have prepared properly, because they were suffering from dehydration. He explained “you can’t just drink a lot of water for two days before an event like this, but need to start hydration procedures around a week before”.

Clearly the drivers who made the podium were more spent than usual, but capable of speaking to Coulthard, discussing the race in the cool down room and receiving their trophies and celebrating on the podium.

However, Ted Kravitz revealed after the race that “two or three” of the drivers in the field had submitted themselves for medical attention at the F1 track facility.

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Alonso – ‘not toughest race’

Yet even the 42 year old Fernando Alonso refused to accept this was the toughest race conditions he’d experienced in his long and varied career.

It seems the younger drivers who have not raced in these conditions before, just don’t know how tough it can be to compete in extreme heat driving a Formula One car.

The Malaysian Grand Prix which left the F1 schedule in 2017 used to be infamous for driver exhaustion and Alonso believes on of his outings there was probably tougher than 2023 in Qatar.

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Young drivers never raced Malaysia

When opening his F1 Qatar 2023 notebook summary, Ted Kravitz began:

“It reminds me of Bahrain 2005, reminds me of all the races in Malaysia some of the hottest Singapore events. The humidity is not quite as hot as Singapore or some of the Malaysia races, but is extremely hot,” explained the Veteran pit lane reporter.

Clearly some of the drivers need better professional advice from their physio’s in how to prepare for such events. 

However, they won’t have to suffer Qatar again in early October as the race in 2024 will be held around 6 weeks later in the year.

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One response to “Certain F1 drivers ‘poor physical preparation’ for Qatar GP

  1. The challenges faced by F1 drivers at the Qatar Grand Prix highlight the need for adaptability. It’s a reminder that even in world-class events, unforeseen circumstances can arise. Qatar’s dedication to hosting major sporting events reflects its commitment to global engagement and showcasing its capabilities on the international stage.

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