Max Verstappen dismisses Gerhard Berger’s claim

Max Verstappen and drivers shared their insights on the extreme conditions as FIA plans changes to avoid a repeat of Qatar.

Former Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger has offered both praise and criticism in the wake of the extreme conditions at the Qatar Grand Prix. 

As several F1 drivers suffered from exhaustion and health issues during the race, Berger questioned the fitness of the athletes while Max Verstappen and others shared their experiences.

The Qatar Grand Prix pushed the limits of drivers, with Pirelli mandating maximum stints of 18 laps for each set of tires. 

The intense heat and other factors took a toll on the racers, causing some to struggle with their health. 

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

One such case was Williams’ Logan Sargeant, who eventually retired from the race due to heatstroke. 

Sargeant attempted to soldier on despite feeling unwell earlier in the race, but the conditions proved overwhelming. 

He remains in a battle to secure his place in Formula 1.

Lance Stroll, an Aston Martin driver, revealed that he felt faint at times during the Qatar Grand Prix. 

Article continues below

Meanwhile, Esteban Ocon from Alpine admitted to feeling sick inside his helmet after just 15 laps, noting that it was a first-time experience for him.

The combination of insufficient cool air in the cockpits, temperatures reaching 35°C, and humidity levels as high as 74% created challenging conditions for the drivers. 

Gerhard Berger suggested that these struggles were primarily due to a lack of fitness, stating, “I think it’s simply a question of fitness. 

“If you’re really fit, you won’t get sick. It’s a fitness problem, and it’s a circulatory issue. 

“If you ask Verstappen, he didn’t get sick, not even in these temperatures.”

However, Max Verstappen, who won the Qatar Grand Prix and clinched his third Formula 1 driver’s championship, admitted to feeling unwell after the race. 

He even joined Oscar Piastri in lying on the floor in the cool-down room before heading to the podium. 

Verstappen commented, “It was definitely way too hot. 

“That has nothing to do with training. 

“Some of the guys who had problems today are extremely fit, probably even fitter than me.”

Nico Hulkenberg, a Haas driver, described the conditions as “really crazy” and compared the Qatar Grand Prix to “Singapore being a breeze” in comparison. 

He humorously added, “I need three days in the ice bath to get to grips with everything.”

In response to the challenging conditions faced by the drivers, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) pledged to take action to prevent similar issues in the future. 

The planned change to host the race in December in 2024 should result in cooler temperatures.

Esteban Ocon expressed relief at the prospect of racing in more comfortable conditions next year. He described his experience during the Qatar Grand Prix, saying, “I’ve never had that in the past. 

“I’ve always been able to do two race distances in the car; that’s what I’ve always been training for. 

“But, today, it was just the hot air and how hot the engine is from behind the car. 

READ: Esteban Ocon: ‘You need to kill me’

“I don’t think we particularly sealed the cockpit too well. 

“It must have been like 80° inside the car. 

“I’m glad that next year we come back here in December.”