Despite having previously been rejected by Formula 1 teams, the FIA are set to introduce a driver cooling device, following what was in many ways a disastrous Qatar Grand Prix.
F1’s return to the Lusail International Circuit was a brutal affair, with the immense heat having had a greater effect due to each set of tyres only being allowed to be used for a certain number of laps.
This was introduced due to an issue discovered by Pirelli, who believed that their rubber had to be changed constantly to remain intact.
It meant the drivers could push harder, given that the tyres weren’t being used for as long as normal, making every lap almost like a quali lap.
The drivers felt the repercussions of this in the heat, as several encountered physical issues.
Esteban Ocon was sick in his helmet twice, Lance Stroll briefly passed out, Logan Sargeant retired due to feeling ill, Alex Albon was checked for acute heat exposure and multiple other drivers collapsed in the medical centre after the race.
It was an alarming event for the governing body, with the drivers having claimed that the temperature in the cockpit was close to 80 degrees Celsius.
As a result, the FIA stressed that they’d evaluate how drivers can be supported when faced with dangerously hot conditions.
That’s exactly what they’ve done, as a driver cooling scoop is set to be introduced, despite having previously been rejected by teams over fears that some would try to use it for an aerodynamic advantage.
The device will be designed so that it’s effectively a “slot that can fit under the chassis” and feed cool air to the drivers in the cockpit.
FIA F1 director Nikolas Tombazis is aware that the sides have previously been against such a device and had made “paranoid hypotheses”.
“The reason if had been rejected in the past was because people were worried it would be sucking off boundary layer stuff,” Tombazis told The Race.
“And all of this would be used for some sort of indirect aero advantage and people were making up various, slightly paranoid hypotheses about what can be used.
“It’s just really allowing that scoop to exist in a certain area and giving some maximum dimensions for it.”
Tombazis has stressed that the device will be designed with defined dimensions, which will significantly reduce any team being able to use it as an advantage.
Something clearly needs to be done to protect the drivers in immense heat, with Tombazis noting that the teams have now “learned their lesson”.
“Everyone’s learned their lesson and thinks a bit less selfishly,” said Tombazis.