‘It’s a nightmare’: Charles Leclerc opens up

Charles Leclerc has been struggling at Ferrari in the second half of the season, amid uncertainty over his future.

The Qatar Grand Prix proved to be a gruelling test of endurance for Formula 1 drivers, with Charles Leclerc of Ferrari describing it as the most challenging race of his career. 

The event, held at the Lusail International Circuit, saw drivers battling extreme conditions and tire-related issues, making it a physically and mentally demanding race.

Leclerc, who finished fifth in the race, highlighted the extraordinary challenges faced by all the drivers. He stated, “This is the toughest race I think for every driver’s Formula 1 career. 

“No exception – and I don’t believe anyone that says it’s not.” 

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Leclerc emphasised the difficulty of managing three pit stops and the lack of tire management during high-speed qualifying laps, making the race mentally taxing.

One of the most significant issues drivers faced was dehydration due to the scorching heat inside the cockpit. 

Leclerc explained, “It’s not even the physical preparation, it’s just the dehydration is at such a level that your vision is so much worse, your heart rate is going to the stars, and it’s very difficult to control all of this.” 

The extreme heat, exceeding 60 degrees Celsius, made it nearly impossible for drivers to stay hydrated during the race. 

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Williams’ Logan Sargeant was the only driver who had to retire from the race due to the challenging conditions. 

He was later treated for “intense dehydration” after experiencing flu-like symptoms earlier in the week. 

Several other drivers, including Esteban Ocon and George Russell, admitted to vomiting or nearly passing out during the race.

Leclerc further highlighted the difficulties of staying hydrated during the race, stating, “You cannot drink because the drink is more like tea than anything else because it’s 60-plus degrees, so it’s extremely difficult to hydrate yourself.” 

The high g-forces and dehydration also affected drivers’ vision and overall physical well-being.

The race saw track limits adjusted on Saturday in response to concerns raised after issues with Pirelli’s tires. 

However, these adjustments led to numerous infringements across the grid, including by Leclerc. 

He remarked, “Also with the track limits, we are speaking about centimetres at 280kph. 

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“In qualifying when we are fresh it’s [already] difficult to respect them, but then at the end of the race, it’s a nightmare.”

In addition to the physical and mental challenges, post-race scenes revealed the toll the race took on drivers. 

Both Lance Stroll and Alex Albon were observed struggling to exit their cars in parc fermé, while others sought medical attention immediately after the race.