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What is the cooldown room in F1? All you need to know about the procedure

The top three finishers in a Formula 1 race visit a cooldown room once the grand prix has finished before walking out onto the podium, and some viewers say it is one of their favourite moments across the weekend.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari speak in the cool down room after the race

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Over time F1 fans have watched the live broadcast cut to the driver cooldown room after each grand prix to see the top three finishers debrief the race.

In 2023 it caused various memes online, as world champion Max Verstappen headed to the cooldown room for 21 of 22 grands prix. Fans joked that it was like the Red Bull driver had his own podcast with different guests - or drivers - on each week.

Other cooldown room moments have seen drivers hold heated exchanges after something happened in the race, so it is a great source of knowledge and entertainment for fans.

But what exactly is the cooldown room in F1 and which moments left fans talking about it for years to come?

What is the cooldown room in F1?

The F1 cooldown room is where the top three finishers head to from parc ferme as they wait for the podium ceremony to start. It is designed to help drivers calm down after a race and plays an essential role in the safety and well-being of those on the F1 grid.

That is because it is a climate-controlled area which allows drivers to lower their body temperatures after a race. The gruelling 2023 Qatar Grand Prix was the perfect example, as cockpit temperatures reached approximately 60C which caused Logan Sargeant to retire from heat exhaustion, for instance. It is something which affected every driver, so in the cooldown room Verstappen and Oscar Piastri both laid on the floor helping them to recover slightly.

There’re various other features of the cooldown room which help drivers to recover, like bottles of cold water to rehydrate, towels, cooling fans and chairs so people can sit down. It is also used as preparation for the podium, because there are tables which allow drivers to place their helmets and store other belongings before they put on a Pirelli cap that is given to first, second and third.

But the main thing fans look for when the feed cuts to the cooldown room is the conversation between the three drivers. Much of that conversation is centred around the television which has been added to the cooldown room in recent years, allowing drivers to react to key moments as race highlights are played on the screen.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, in Parc Ferme

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Because of it, fans watched Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso react to the 2023 Canadian GP together, while the seven-time world champion was also caught controversially calling the Red Bull driver a “d***head” when the two collided at the 2018 Bahrain GP.

The top three finishers are not the only people in F1’s cooldown room though, because a representative from the winning team is present, as they also stand on the podium. Many F1 and FIA officials are often there too, to ensure everything runs smoothly. But the cooldown room is not a requirement for non-podium finishers.

This is because they do not need to wait for the podium ceremony. So instead, after visiting parc ferme, the rest of the grid head straight to their respective media duties, debriefs and motor homes to freshen up following the grand prix.

Why is the F1 cooldown room filmed?

F1’s cooldown room is filmed to give fans greater insight into the drivers and their thoughts on the grand prix.

Filming of F1’s cooldown room goes back several years with many clips from the early 2000s, like the famous bust-up between Alonso and Felipe Massa after the 2007 European GP. It happened after Alonso overtook Massa for the lead around the outside of Nurburgring’s Turn 5, yet the two cars touched in the process and the double world champion, then driving for McLaren, accused his Ferrari rival of deliberately causing the collision - to which the Brazilian aggressively denied.

That was just one of many cooldown room moments to get caught on camera over the years, however filming stopped in 2020 due to COVID-19. The pandemic caused much of the 2020 season to be staged behind closed doors with many social distancing protocols in place, so this meant the cooldown room was no longer used for safety reasons.

The change wasn’t permanent though as the F1 cooldown room returned for the first time in three years at the 2022 Emilia Romagna GP. Verstappen won that day in a Red Bull 1-2 with Sergio Perez, while Lando Norris completed the podium at Imola.

Race winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, second place Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, third place Lando Norris, McLaren

Race winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, second place Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, third place Lando Norris, McLaren

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

But, Norris was only on the podium because Charles Leclerc spun into the barrier from third with nine laps to go. So, the podium finishers reacted to the spin via the cooldown room television with Norris noting how aggressive Leclerc was on the kerbs.

Since then, the cooldown room has featured after every grand prix except for the inaugural Las Vegas GP, presumably for scheduling reasons. Soon after the race finished, the top three drivers were escorted to the nearby Bellagio Hotel for the traditional podium interviews before being driven back to the grid for the ceremony.

10 Memorable moments in the F1 cooldown room

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg celebrate together - 2008 Australian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, and Nico Rosberg, Williams, celebrate on the podium

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, and Nico Rosberg, Williams, celebrate on the podium

Photo by: Andre Vor / Sutton Images

A young Hamilton converted pole into victory at the 2008 season-opening Australian GP to overcome the disappointment of losing out on the 2007 championship in his rookie campaign by a single point. The 2008 Australian GP also featured a maiden podium for Nico Rosberg, who was beginning his third season in F1 while driving for Williams.

The two drivers had a long history of competing against each other as team-mates in karting to becoming teenage best friends and going on holiday together. Both had dreamed of reaching F1, so when they shared a podium for the first time Hamilton and Rosberg shared a big hug in the cooldown room while the German stated “I feel amazing”.

However, it is well documented that later in their F1 careers Hamilton and Rosberg became not so friendly with each other – leading to some more memorable cooldown room moments.

Mark Webber reminds Sebastian Vettel of ‘multi 21’ - 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel

Photo by: Andre Vor / Sutton Images

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel shared a very fractious relationship as Red Bull team-mates (2009-13) and tensions reached boiling point at the 2013 Malaysian GP. Webber was leading a comfortable Red Bull 1-2, so both drivers were told “multi-map 21” meaning to hold position and lower engine performance.

But Vettel ignored this. He started attacking Webber and eventually overtook with 10 laps left to ultimately win the race. Webber was furious and initially rebuffed Vettel’s attempt to talk in the cooldown room before eventually stating “multi 21 Seb, yeah, multi 21” to which the then triple world champion had no response.

The drama continued and although Vettel eventually apologised back at the team’s factory, on the podium that day an angry Webber, who quit F1 at the end of the year, claimed the Red Bull protege “will have protection as usual”.

Lewis Hamilton throws cap at Nico Rosberg after winning third world title - 2015 United States Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG, 2nd Position, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG, 1st Position, celebrate with their team.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG, 2nd Position, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG, 1st Position, celebrate with their team.

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

The friendship days were long gone for Hamilton and Rosberg come 2015. The two became Mercedes team-mates in 2013 and very bitterly-fought one another for the 2014 and 2015 championships with Hamilton winning both times.

Hamilton claimed the 2015 crown after winning the United States GP in a Mercedes 1-2. But, polesitter Rosberg was angry at his team-mate for pushing him wide at Turn 1 which allowed Hamilton to claim the lead.

Afterwards, in the cooldown room, Rosberg silently sat staring at the ground in anger over losing another championship. Then Hamilton threw the second-placed Pirelli cap onto his team-mate’s lap before Rosberg immediately chucked it back at his rival, with the hat hitting the Briton’s shoulder.

Sebastian Vettel calls Daniil Kvyat a ‘torpedo’ - 2016 Chinese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2nd Position, has a word with Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing, 3rd Position, about their start incident.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 2nd Position, has a word with Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing, 3rd Position, about their start incident.

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

The 2016 Chinese GP was special for Daniil Kvyat as he claimed his second F1 podium after finishing third despite starting sixth. Much of that was due to his start, as the then Red Bull driver climbed up to third after storming down the inside of the Turn 1 bend.

However, to avoid colliding with Kvyat, Vettel suddenly moved left but that caused him to tag Kimi Raikkonen’s rear-right tyre and knock his Ferrari team-mate off the track. Vettel still finished on the podium in second, but Kvyat’s question in the cooldown room sparked an angry reaction from him.

“You, asking what happened at the start," responded Vettel. "If I don’t go to the left you crash into us and we all three go out."

“Well” is all Kvyat could say before Vettel cut in again with “no ‘well’, you came like a torpedo”. The argument continued as Vettel later claimed “you were lucky this time”, before Kvyat ended the heated exchange with a sarcastic pat on the four-time world champion’s shoulder.

Daniel Ricciardo then referenced the incident ahead of the 2017 British GP. The Australian joked that “there was an invite for the ‘torpedo’” to Vettel’s birthday party, before Ricciardo told a confused Hamilton that “it’s what Seb called him in China last year”.

Max Verstappen told to leave the cooldown room - 2016 Mexican Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

In Verstappen’s early days at Red Bull, he made quite the habit of getting kicked out of the cooldown room. The first time it happened was at the 2016 Mexican GP, when Verstappen crossed the line in third but was later given a five-second penalty for cutting Turn 2 which allowed him to stay ahead of Vettel.

Verstappen was informed of the penalty in the cooldown room. After standing there frustrated, he picked up his helmet, told Hamilton and Rosberg “it’s been good guys, see you later” before explaining what happened to the confused Mercedes drivers.

Vettel replaced him on the podium, but later on the Ferrari driver was penalised 10 seconds for moving under braking while defending from Ricciardo, so he was eventually given third position.

Max Verstappen told to leave the cooldown room again - 2017 United States Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Sutton Images

Verstappen was kicked out of the cooldown room for a second time at the 2017 United States GP. It came after Verstappen passed Raikkonen for third on the final lap, but all four wheels were off the track as he made the manoeuvre down the inside of Turn 17.

Stewards gave Verstappen a five-second penalty as a result but again, he was not informed until he’d reached the cooldown room. A proud Verstappen was recalling his overtake to Vettel, but suddenly Raikkonen appeared in the cooldown room and the Red Bull driver responded “again”.

An FIA official then told him “I think there is a penalty” as Verstappen gave a sarcastic chuckle when he walked out of the room.

Kimi Raikkonen asks Lewis Hamilton if he’s won the championship - 2018 United States Grand Prix

Race winner Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H celebrates in Parc Ferme with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 in back ground

Race winner Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H celebrates in Parc Ferme with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 in back ground

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Raikkonen claimed his final grand prix victory at the 2018 United States GP ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton, who would have clinched a fifth title that day had he finished eight points ahead of Vettel and not three as the Ferrari driver came fourth.

But a vexed Hamilton was reminded of this in the cooldown room. Out of nowhere, Raikkonen asked Hamilton “did you win the championship” and an abrupt “no” was the reply. When others in the cooldown room started laughing, Raikkonen defended himself saying “I didn’t know, I didn’t know”.

Verstappen and Raikkonen were then reminded of the Austin cooldown room from 12 months prior. So, Verstappen jokingly replied “now, I’m allowed to stay”.

Max Verstappen sits in world champion throne at Suzuka - 2022 Japanese Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The 2022 Japanese GP caused one of the funniest and most iconic cooldown room moments. It came after a race that completed just 28 of its intended 53 laps due to torrential rain, as Verstappen led a Red Bull 1-2 with Leclerc in third.

As less than 75% of the scheduled race distance was completed, teams and drivers assumed full points would not be awarded. In that scenario, Verstappen was not yet champion because 75% of race points would have been given, leaving the Red Bull driver one point short of the advantage he needed over Leclerc.

However, a new rule stated that full points would not be awarded only “if a race cannot be resumed or suspended”, but the Japanese GP did resume after an initial red flag on lap two, so full points were given. The paddock didn’t know this until Johnny Herbert suddenly informed a confused Verstappen that he was champion in the parc ferme interviews.

The doubt still lingered though and Verstappen wasn’t completely sure until the cooldown room when officials assured him that he was now a double world champion. So, as requested, Verstappen then entered the neighbouring room and sat - quite awkwardly - in a big, red seat with “2022 world champion” labelled on the wall behind. Verstappen sat in front of the cameras for 20 seconds before re-entering the next room after claiming “I feel a bit lonely”.

Drivers discuss Sebastian Vettel’s retirement - 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Erik Junius

Vettel announced that he was to retire from F1 at the end of the 2022 season. However, many drivers have previously done that before returning at a later date like Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and Alonso.

So, in the cooldown room after the 2022 Abu Dhabi GP, it was discussed if Vettel would do the same. Perez, who finished third that day, said: “It didn’t feel like a goodbye to Seb. I have a feeling he will come back.”

But Leclerc, who was Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate in 2019 and 2020, strongly rebuffed Perez’s claim saying: “I don’t have that feeling. I don’t think he will come back, unfortunately.”

Drivers joke about the ‘Max Verstappen podcast’ - 2023 Japanese Grand Prix

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, in the post race Press Conference

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, in the post race Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

Verstappen finished on the podium for each of the first 14 grands prix in 2023, so the world champion became a regular feature of the cooldown room. His run ended with an off-weekend in Singapore where Verstappen finished fifth, before returning to form at the next race in Suzuka with a victory.

Joining him in the cooldown room that day were both McLaren drivers as Norris finished second with rookie Piastri claiming his maiden podium. When the three drivers were watching the race highlights, Norris joked that “this [the McLaren drivers] is going to be next on Max’s podcast”.

Piastri then referred to himself as a “new addition” before Verstappen bluntly said “I don’t even like podcasts”. Journalists then asked him about the comment in the post-race press conference showing how many talking points can come from the cooldown room.

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