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Qatar Grand Prix 2023

F1 must 'define boundaries' to protect drivers - Vowles

The Qatar Grand Prix has led to an investigation from the FIA and F1 over extreme climactic conditions.

Williams Team Principal James Vowles has insisted boundaries must be defined to protect driver safety after a strenuous Qatar Grand Prix.

Rookie Logan Sargeant was forced to retire for the Grove-based outfit after suffering with dehydration, despite attempting to race through his difficulties.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon vomited in his helmet early in the race whilst Aston Martin's Lance Stroll was one of a number who attested to almost passing out behind the wheel at high speed.

The FIA and F1 will work together to examine and potentially introduce measures against the effects of extreme climactic conditions, as revealed by a statement in the week following the event.

Addressing Sargeant's condition, Vowles explained: "He was ill the week prior and ill a little bit leading up to Friday.

"That weakened his immune system and sufficiently so that he was very easily dehydrated.

"The circumstances in Qatar were very different. The rule brought in for safety meant a three-stop was incredibly easy to do on the tyres, so the drivers were pushing flat out from start to finish.

"It really was four sprint races just flat out from start to finish - that was different and unusual to drivers.

"There are elements of this we need to understand and as a sport, do better.

"They have a drinks system on board, it is only a couple of litres and it is not terribly cool when you are 20 or 30 laps into the race, so there are probably elements that we can help with.

"But we are a sport pushing elite athletes to the absolute limit, so what we need to do now is define boundaries to make sure they get to the end safely."

Miscalculation

Despite the difficulties experienced by drivers, the ambient temperatures and humidity at the Lusail International Circuit were far from excessive compared to other events, leading to a miscalculation by Williams.

"Before the season, we highlight the tracks that are going to be difficult from a physical perspective for the drivers," said Vowles.

"Of that list, Miami and Singapore were at the top level of it - they are sort of in the mid-30s, low-30s in terms of ambient temperature and in Miami, with the sunlight at the track there is a higher temperature.

"There is high humidity as well which means the body isn't able to cool itself efficiently.

"But Qatar wasn't there as one of those tracks - that obviously is wrong in hindsight. It was the most difficult track bar none for the drivers."

F1 2023 Qatar Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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