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Formula 1 Qatar GP

Norris: F1 Qatar GP was “too dangerous” for drivers

Lando Norris said the Qatar Grand Prix was “too dangerous” for Formula 1 drivers as a perfect storm of heat, G-forces and a high-paced race took their toll.

Lando Norris, McLaren, 3rd position, in Parc Ferme

On an evening when a number of drivers were close to passing out, Esteban Ocon was sick in his helmet, Logan Sargeant retired due to heatstroke, and the medical centre had several visitors post-race, podium finisher Norris thinks F1 went too far in terms of what was acceptable.

Rather than it simply being a case of the Qatar event taking place in conditions that were too hot, the implications of a flat-out race, triggered by mandatory short tyre stints at the high-speed venue, combined to push F1 drivers to the edge.

Asked by Autosport if F1 had gone over the limit in what it expected drivers to do, Norris said: “I think today we probably found the limit. I think it's sad we had to find it this way.

“It's never a nice situation to be in, some people ending up in the medical centre or passing out, and things like that. So, a pretty dangerous thing to have going on.

“But it's not a point where you can just go, the drivers need to train more or do any of that. We're in a closed car that gets extremely hot in a very physical race. And it's frustrating.

“I guess on TV, it probably doesn't look very physical at all, but clearly, when you have people who end up retiring or in such a bad state, it's too much, you know, for the speeds we're doing. It is too dangerous.

“I know that this race next year is later on in the season, and it will be a lot cooler a few months later, but it's something that needs to be thought of, and I'm sure we'll speak about it because it shouldn't have happened in the first place.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Race winner Max Verstappen, who perhaps had an easier time due to his Red Bull running in clear air at the front of the field, was clear that the problems drivers faced were nothing to do with not being fit enough – it was all about the conditions.

“When I saw the weather before coming here, I was not looking forward to it,” he said. “It's just too warm, and like Lando said, it has nothing to do with more training or whatever.

“I think some of the guys who were struggling are extremely fit, probably even fitter than me, but just the whole day it's like you’re walking around in a sauna. And also then in the night the humidity goes up.

“The races are quite long, but it's not the only place. There are a few places like that. I think Singapore is almost like a two-hour race and it's very, very warm. I think it's also quite on the limit of what is what should be allowed. So there are a few things to look at. But this was definitely way too hot.”

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The weather conditions will be much improved for 2024, when the race is scheduled to take place on December 1 – when things should be cooler.

But Verstappen thinks that there are a lot of issues that need evaluating from a Qatar weekend that was overshadowed by tyre problems triggered by revised kerbs.

“Obviously we need some discussions I think about a lot of things from this weekend,” added Verstappen. “It's not a good situation to be in.”

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