When the temperature rises Formula 1 teams, cars and drivers begin to struggle. There comes a point where it’s too hot, and that point has been reached in some Grand Prix over the last few decades.
Below is a look at the 5 hottest F1 races on record.
Racing in the heat
Formula 1 cars have an optimal temperature window in which to operate. Anything above that and they start to have issues in keeping some of their key systems and component cool. These include some of the most important fluids like engine oil, coolant and brake fluid.
Plus the brakes may start to overheat which means they’ll fade and lose strength. Additionally the tyres will go beyond their ideal operating temperature range, make them lose grip and performance rapidly.
The cars are one thing but the drivers are another. They wear cool suits and have litres of fluid on board to help them try and keep hydrated mid-race.
They’ll sweat so much that they won’t need to pee. But cockpit temperatures are always much higher than the ambient air, so when they’re racing in a hot climate it can become unbearable.
Hot or humid?
Some races which feel the hottest for the drivers might not actually read quite as high on the thermometers. Those are usually the ones in the humid climates, like Singapore and the old Malaysian Grand Prix.
The 2023 Qatar Grand Prix made the news headlines as the conditions were dangerously hot for drivers. Whilst the maximum temperatures weren’t enough to make the top-5 hottest race list below, the humidity was incredibly high.
Max Verstappen won the race, but Esteban Ocon vomited in his helmet, Lance Stroll passed out after the race and Logan Sargeant had to retire mid-way through because of heat exhaustion.
The FIA approved additional cooling scoops to be added to F1 cars from 2024 onwards, to help mitigate the risk to drivers from those conditions.
The 5 hottest F1 races on record
Here’s a look at 5 of the hottest F1 races that have taken place, where drivers and cars have reached the upper limit of what they can operate in.
5 - 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix
- Max temperature: 38°C / 98.6°F
The decider of the 2007 F1 championship was held at Interlagos circuit in São Paulo, Brazil.
Kimi Raikkonen would eventually take the title for Ferrari, beating the rookie Hamilton and the Renault driver Alonso to the top of the standings. He did so under some pretty intense weather conditions.
4 - 2008 Australian Grand Prix
- Max temperature: 38°C / 100.4°F
The very next race after the 2007 decider at Brazil was the 2008 season opener in Melbourne, and the temperature there increased even further.
The Australian GP is held at the Albert Park circuit and is always in March which normally results in warm temperatures in the mid-20s (Celcius).
In 2008 it was unseasonably hot in March meaning the F1 drivers had to endure some seriously scorching temperatures.
3 - 1984 Dallas Grand Prix
- Max temperature: 39°C / 102.2°F
Whoever decided to hold a Grand Prix in Dallas in July must have lost their marbles. The hottest part of the year, in a very hot part of the United States, resulted in searing temperatures for the GP.
Nevertheless the F1 race went ahead, albeit with its start time brought forward a few hours to avoid the heat of the day. Despite that, Goodyear recorded a track temperature of 66 degrees Celcius, enough for parts of the tarmac to start melting as the race went on.
The conditions were almost too much for the racers and their teams. One driver had a bucket of iced water thrown over him during a pit stop. Nigel Mansell’s car broke down metres from the finish line, and in a bid to score points Mansell tried pushing it over the finish but collapsed from the heat before he made it.
2 - 1955 Argentine Grand Prix
- Max temperature: 40°C / 104°F
Official temperature records for Grand Prix 70 years ago weren’t kept (or no longer exist), but back in 1955 numerous reports stated that the heat at the Argentine GP in Buenos Aires was at the top of the thermometers. We know for sure it’s one of the hottest races that’s ever taken place.
Back then the races were longer (up to 3 hours), but teams were allowed to swap their drivers mid-race, which at least gave them a little break.
But the race winner, Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio, didn’t stop. He did the full 3-hour race on his own and took victory in front of a home crowd.
1 - 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix
- Minimum temperature: 42.6°C / 108.5°F
The hottest ever Formula One race was the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix, where air temperatures reached a staggering 42.6°C / 108.5°F.
2005 was only the second time that Bahrain had held a race, and back then the start time was in the afternoon at the hottest part of the day. Now, for more than a decade, the Bahrain F1 race is held in the evening to provide cooler temperatures for each team and driver.
Not only is this the hottest Grand Prix ever, but during that race Pedro de las Rosa set the Bahrain lap record for an F1 car, which to this day has not yet been broken.