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George Russell

Russell: F1 safety change 'still not enough'

New cooling vents have been spotted on the new Formula 1 cars in response to the extreme conditions drivers were subject to in Qatar last year.

George Russell has conceded that the cooling vent tested by Mercedes at pre-season testing would have made very little difference at last year’s Qatar Grand Prix.

Drivers were subjected to extreme temperatures at the Lusail International Circuit last year with temperatures failing to drop below 36 degrees Celcius during the race.

Conditions inside the cockpit were made more difficult as Pirelli imposed a maximum stint length on tyre sets due to concerns over cuts, allowing drivers to drive at a much faster pace compared to the usual race lap times.

Many of the drivers received medical attention after the chequered flag with Logan Sargeant even pulling out of the running due to feeling so unwell.

The FIA moved to allow a new cooling duct for this year, clearing the way for it to be located closer to the driver having previously only been permitted in the nose area of the car.

Russell's conclusion

The vents were spotted on several cars during pre-season testing in Bahrain last week, but asked whether it would have helped in a scenario such as last season's struggle, Russell told media including RacingNews365: “There was more change with that extra event, but I don't think it would have made a substantial difference in Qatar last year.

“I think with the ambient temperatures we had and the humidity, the feeling was [in the] high 40 degrees. I think somebody had a calculation that the feeling was 48 degrees in Qatar.

“Ever since Romain [Grosjean]’s crash a couple of years ago, the race kits are getting thicker and thicker with fireproof layers.

“The body temperature was probably closing in on 40 degrees which is borderline ‘you're getting [sent to] the hospital'.

“[It’s] a very, very small step but unfortunately it’s still not enough.”

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