(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has backed fellow Austrian and F1 legend Gerhard Berger’s view that it is up to the drivers to be ready for extremely hot races.
With the FIA accepting responsibility for the group of drivers who suffered with heat stroke and dehydration in Qatar last Sunday, Berger said the issue is actually “simply a question of fitness”.
“If you’re in great shape, you won’t get sick,” he told Servus TV.
In the increasingly safety-oriented world, 80-year-old Marko said Berger’s comments are a breath of fresh air.
“What Gerhard said was very refreshing,” he told Osterreich newspaper. “He also got to the heart of why he didn’t win that much himself.”
Marko also said it’s notable that new triple world champion Max Verstappen made it to the end of the extreme Qatar race – with victory.
“Absolutely,” he said when asked if Berger was right that the best drivers in the field are also the best prepared physically.
“Max was still all together at the finish. He did have the advantage of being able to drive three or four leisurely laps after the pitstops until he got the tires up to temperature.”
“The others probably always had to drive at full capacity.”
October 11, 2023
Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger says F1 drivers need to train for extreme heat situations. The drivers in the best shape cope with it.
(GMM) Gerhard Berger has rubbished the suggestion that F1’s governing body needs to intervene to protect the health of the drivers in extreme heat.
Multiple drivers really struggled throughout the Qatar GP, involving vomiting in their helmets, extreme dehydration and heat exposure. George Russell said many of his rivals admitted they were “close to passing out”.
In reaction, the FIA accepted some of the responsibility, admitting that despite being “elite athletes”, they should “not be expected to compete under conditions that could jeopardize their health or safety”.
At the forthcoming FIA medical commission meeting, various ideas will be discussed – including race scheduling, “guidance for competitors”, and better cockpit ventilation.
F1 legend Gerhard Berger, however, who won 10 grands prix amid a long Formula 1 career in the 80s and 90s, has little sympathy.
“It was the same for us,” the former Ferrari and McLaren driver told Servus TV.
“This time, the boys seem to have pushed themselves to the limit, but it’s simply a question of fitness. If you’re in great shape, you won’t get sick.”
Formula 1 drivers today are generally fitter overall than in the 80s and 90s, and Austrian Berger – now 64 – admits that his McLaren teammate Ayrton Senna was fitter than him.
“It’s a fitness problem and a circulatory issue,” Berger said when asked about the reaction of today’s drivers to the extreme heat in Qatar last weekend.
“If you ask a Verstappen or a Hamilton, they don’t get sick even in those temperatures. Because it’s a factor that you must have on the radar if you want to win.
“For myself, I was often at the limit too, especially in the first half of my career. And I had to manage my limit. In a hot race in Adelaide I had to reduce my speed in the last few laps to avoid getting into a situation like we saw now. And I lost places as a result, of course,” said Berger.
“I often felt sick because I didn’t have the fitness.”