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Formula One

29th Feb 2024

George Russell speaks out about major safety concern ahead of F1 season start

Sophie Collins

Formula 1, known for its high-speed thrills and intense competition, also presents a gruelling physical challenge for its drivers.

The 2023 Qatar Grand Prix brought this challenge to the forefront, with extreme heat posing significant issues not just for the cars, but for the drivers too.

George Russell has recently voiced his concerns regarding Formula 1’s response to these challenges, particularly at the Lusail Circuit.

Russell’s critique stems from Formula 1’s efforts to address the heat-related issues faced by drivers during races.

In the wake of the scorching conditions experienced at the Qatar GP, Russell openly questioned the effectiveness of the measures taken to mitigate such challenges.

This is not the first time Russell has spoken out against perceived shortcomings in Formula 1’s approach to safety, having previously highlighted the risks associated with the banning of tire blankets.

One notable intervention by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) was the introduction of new cooling ducts near the driver’s cockpit.

These ducts aim to improve airflow and help regulate the driver’s body temperature during races. However, Russell recalled that even with these measures in place, temperatures during the Qatar GP soared to around 40 degrees Celsius.

He also mentioned the aftermath of Romain Grosjean‘s harrowing crash at the Bahrain GP, which led to an increase in the thickness of racing suits to enhance fire protection.

Ironically, this added layer of safety gear contributed to further elevating drivers’ body temperatures during races.

With body temperatures nearing 40 degrees Celsius in some instances, drivers can be left on the brink of needing medical attention after the race.

The severity of the conditions was highlighted by Logan Sargeant’s retirement from the previous year’s race due to feeling unwell at the circuit.

Reflecting on these developments, Russell characterised Formula 1’s response as a “very small step” in the right direction but emphasised that more needs to be done to ensure the safety and well-being of drivers.

As Formula 1 continues to evolve, the challenge of balancing safety with the demands of high-performance racing remains.

George Russell’s outspoken advocacy serves as a reminder that progress must remain a priority for the sport’s governing bodies.

For more great F1 content, check out Straight to the Grid