20 October 2023

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

20 October 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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