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George Russell

Russell hits back at former driver criticism following extreme Qatar GP

The race at Lusail featured multiple reports of drivers feeling ill, but George Russell has dismissed the opinions of former drivers who insisted the current crop should get on with it.

Russell Qatar
To news overview © XPBimages

George Russell has detailed the extreme conditions faced in the Qatar Grand Prix as he dismissed opinions of some former drivers after the heat impacted the field.

The race at Lusail was already set to be physically demanding for the field with the high-speed nature of the track, but a combination of no wind and drivers pushing flat out after a maximum stint length of 18 laps was imposed meant some struggled to cope with the heat.

Esteban Ocon claimed he was throwing up inside his helmet, Lance Stroll that he was losing consciousness behind the wheel while Logan Sargeant retired with severe dehydration.

The FIA has moved to introduce an air scoop into the design of cars to channel air to the drivers, who faced criticism from some former Grand Prix racers.

However Russell, who finished fourth in the race, has de-constructed their arguments and explained just how cockpit temperatures reached 60 degrees celsius.

Russell hits back

"Training substantially for the heat, I train with three layers of clothes ahead of the hot races, and I do a huge amount of saunas to adapt to the heat," Russell explained to media including RacingNews365.

"The guys who are commenting on this, we're driving 20 seconds a lap faster than they were going, pulling 5G in every single aspect, and of course we need to be gladiators.

"But when it comes to the heat, there is only os much the body can take.

"If you take the Qatar World Cup, due to the heat, they added three-minute water breaks twice throughout the games. They have their 15 minute half-time break, and we're driving flat out for 90 minutes on a super high-speed and high downforce circuit with temperature and humidity that was through the roof.

"My recovery was pretty straightforward because for anyone who's been in a sauna before, at one point, you feel like you need to get out of there because you're about to burn.

"But once you spend five or 10 minutes afterwards, cooling down, you feel okay, but I know some drivers who suffered with heatstroke, they were ill for the week following as well.

"And anybody can say what they like but the race cars in the 1980s and 1990 didn't have all the electronic boxes around the cockpit, heating the cockpit up.

"They didn't have the power steering system that was running at 50 or 60 degrees radiating heat. We have hydraulic lines running all around the cockpit, which is 120 degrees celsius.

"The cockpit was closing in on 60 degrees Celsius through the race and we have thicker fireproof underwear than they ever wore.

"Since [Romain] Grosjean's [fiery 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix] crash, the fireproofs are substantially thicker.

"It's like wearing a fleece, so people can say what they like, but things are different now, the same way things were different 40 years ago."

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