Lewis Hamilton wants Formula One to remain ‘extreme’ amid Qatar GP complaints

By Sports Desk October 20, 2023

Lewis Hamilton said Formula One must not become “too soft” and challenged his fellow drivers to embrace pain amid a safety backlash following the last round in Qatar.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell branded the race a fortnight ago “beyond the limit of what is acceptable” as temperatures in the drivers’ cockpits exceeded 50 degrees.

Canadian Lance Stroll said he faded in and out of consciousness because of the extreme heat and humidity in Lusail.

London-born driver Alex Albon was treated for acute heat exposure, while his rookie Williams team-mate Logan Sargeant was forced to park his car through illness. Alpine’s French driver Esteban Ocon also vomited during the race.

Following a series of complaints, F1’s governing body, the FIA, launched a review and said it noted with “concern” the impact the race had on the “well-being” of those who took part.

But speaking ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Texas, Hamilton, 38, said: “This is an extreme sport and you don’t have marathon runners who pass out after a marathon saying the event should be shorter.

“We get paid very highly for what we do, and, from my perspective, when I have not been feeling great at the end of a race I just train harder.

“So I don’t want them to shorten the races and make it easier for us. I want it to be extreme. I want to feel the difference. I want to feel pain in my body. That’s what this is about. We have got to be careful with the changes we make. It’s like, ‘let’s not get too soft’.”

Hamilton’s participation in Qatar lasted a handful of seconds following his race-ending collision with Russell at the opening bend.

But the seven-time world champion, second only to Fernando Alonso, 42, in terms of age and experience on the current grid, believes the conditions in Malaysia – last seen on the calendar in 2017 – were more challenging than those in Qatar.

He continued: “Obviously I didn’t do the race, so I didn’t get to feel the pain that the drivers felt. But I have been here a long time. And Malaysia was much hotter.

“If I was in the race in Qatar, of course I would have struggled to get out afterwards. But I know what it’s like to lose four or more kilos and barely being able to stand. I love that.

“That’s what makes it closer to what it was like back in the day. We are supposed to be elite athletes and to be elite, you need to be pushing to the limit.”

The drivers are set for another challenging weekend with record-breaking temperatures of more than 30 degrees anticipated in Austin.

Qualifying for Sunday’s 56-lap race at the Circuit of the Americas takes place at 4pm local time (10pm BST) on Friday.

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    He then crashed into the barriers late in the day after losing control on a damp kerb at turn six, hobbling back to the pits with a broken rear wing. 

    "I'm very sorry for my team, I let them down today. But we will come back no doubt. There’s a very long way to go," Perez said on social media.

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    Perez recently signed a new two-year deal with Red Bull, ending speculation that the world champions will sign free agent Sainz ahead of the new season. 

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    The 34-year-old remained fifth overall in the world championship and a point behind Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who was one of five drivers that failed to finish the race. 

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    He then crashed into the barriers late in the day after losing control on a damp kerb at turn six, hobbling back to the pits with a broken rear wing. 

    "I'm very sorry for my team, I let them down today. But we will come back no doubt. There’s a very long way to go," Perez said on social media.

    His final incident cost him a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Barcelona, with the stewards punishing him for a breach of the safety rules that require a driver to stop if the car is unsafe.

    "The incident was on me, I touched the wet part into turn six and I couldn’t stop the car, I couldn’t touch the brakes," Perez said on Sunday.

    "It has been a very tough couple of weekends, we will regroup, keep our heads down and learn from the weekend. We identified a couple of issues after qualifying and they meant we would have qualified a lot higher.

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