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Teams and FIA to discuss F1 cockpit heat issue in next technical meeting

The issue of cockpit temperatures will be formally discussed by Formula 1 teams and the FIA in a meeting of the technical advisory committee after the Mexican GP.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing leads at the start

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The TAC is the forum where future rules are discussed by the 10 team technical directors and the governing body, with F1’s technical chief Pat Symonds also contributing.

In the wake of the Qatar GP, the issue of high cockpit temperatures, which had not previously been on the radar, has been added to the agenda for the virtual gathering on 31 October.

The FIA has already promised a full analysis of what happened in Qatar and its implications.

One of the challenges is that cooling equipment, whether part of the drivers’ kit or the car itself, inevitably means adding weight.

"We're going to talk about it at the next TAC,” Symonds told Autosport. “The FIA are doing some work on it, and I’m doing some work on it. It's not totally straightforward.

“Indycars have different vent arrangements at different times. They are quite into their cool suits, which I think are a couple of kilogrammes, they're not the end of the world.

"You decide what performance you get from weight. So if you are talking about a couple of kilogrammes for a cool suit, for example, you can figure out what that costs you in physics.

“You can't exactly work out what you gain with the driver, but there will be a point at which you say actually the driver is going to have a drinks bottle.”

Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

Photo by: Williams

Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45

Teams are supportive of efforts to address the situation.

“I think the teams and drivers will have a great ability to have different views on different topics,” said McLaren’s Zak Brown when asked by Autosport about the heat issue.

“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.

“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.”

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack, who has experience of cockpit cooling from his Porsche WEC days, also has sympathy with the drivers.

“I think the GPDA and FIA are in exchange, and we have to see what happens over the coming weeks,” said Krack. “It is true that in other categories 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.”

However, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was cautious about any solutions that directly involve the car.

“That was, for me, the most extreme driver situation in terms of heat soak that I've seen so far,” he said of Qatar.

“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 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 regulations?

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, in the Team Principals Press Conference

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, in the Team Principals Press Conference

“I think this is not something we want to open up, but in any case you need to respect the position of the driver, and that wasn't pleasant to look at.”

Haas boss Guenther Steiner was also wary of changes to the cars, especially given that Qatar’s later race date in 2024 will make a big difference.

“I think we shouldn't overreact to find technical solutions,” he noted. “To make big holes or big devices in the race car for a situation which came up once in 100 years here.

"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.”

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