Leclerc says the race pace of Mercedes in F1 Qatar GP “a surprise for us”

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Drivers suffered from severe dehydration as a result of the scorching heat in Qatar and the three necessary tyre changes that caused them push considerably harder from the first to the last lap.

A number of drivers were negatively affected by the circumstances throughout the race; such as Fernando Alonso asking the pit crew to throw water on him to cool the seat or Logan Sargeant being forced to retire during it. After the race, certain drivers needed treatment or even fainted.

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, like every other driver, admitted that conditions were significantly worse and referred to Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix as the most physically exhausting and challenging race in their career so far.

“This is the toughest race I think for every driver in Formula 1 in our career for everybody (so far), no exceptions. I don’t believe the one that says it’s not.

“I think it was many things adding up. Obviously the heat was extremely warm. We have a track where there are lots of high-speed corners, but I think the most significant part is the fact that we had to do three stops and that meant no tyre management in the high speed, which meant quali lap after quali lap.”

There is no doubt that the Monegasque driver hardly wants to be involved in another race like this one. In order to avoid getting into the same situation again, he insists that the drivers need to have talks to come up with a solution if anything similar happens next year or in the future.

“Next year if we find ourselves in the same situation, I think we’ll have to discuss in between us drivers because we can always look at each other at the end of the race when we are sat down and this time you feel it was different and some drivers felt really bad.”

“So this is something we’ll maybe discuss because at one point, it’s not even physical preparation, it’s just dehydration is at such a level that your vision is so much worse. Your heart rate is going to the stars. it’s very difficult to control all of this. It was really really difficult,” he added.

The Ferrari driver concluded by clarifying the reasons it was so hard to stay hydrated from a racing driver’s perspective. He said:

“I think it’s difficult to put into words and to explain how tough it is and especially with the G-forces when… as I said you have a lot of dehydration, you can drink, but the drink is more tea than anything else because it’s at 65 degrees. So it’s extremely difficult to hydrate yourself.

“And again with the G-forces, you don’t see as well, so also the track limits and we are speaking about centimeters at 280kph. In qualifying when we are fresh, it’s difficult to respect them. But in the race, it’s just a nightmare at the end of the race.

“Maybe there are things we could do because these cars are so quick now in the high speed. When you’re doing quali lap after quali lap with the G-forces we are doing through for 57 laps, it’s crazy.”

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

On the race itself, Leclerc was left disappointed at Ferrari’s lack of pace.

Although he finished a solid P5, the Monegasque was frustrated as George Russell recovered from a first lap incident with Lewis Hamilton to carve his way through the pack and beat the Ferrari driver to P4.

“Happy? No. When you see the race of George where he’s out in turn 1 and then manages to finish in front, I think it’s a surprise for us the pace of the Mercedes today.”