If you drive a car for a living, you wouldn’t think that keeping fit is one of the most important aspects of your job role. But when the car you drive is capable of speeds of well over 200 mph, it changes your outlook somewhat.
People have often chuckled when Formula 1 is described as a sport; after all, there is no ball involved and it is the vehicle that does all the hard work – but this is a misconception.
F1 drivers are some of the most highly conditioned athletes on earth. They put themselves through rigorous training regimes, have strict, tailored diets and complete a number of specific exercises in order to maintain the reflexes needed to drive at speed but why do they do it?
F1 Drivers Face Extreme Forces
Most F1 teams spend an absolute fortune on trying to eke out every last ounce of power from their cars in order to gain an advantage over their opponents. They use the latest, cutting-edge technology and have entire teams dedicated to the scientific analysis of the engine and performance of the car.
This effort produces a vehicle with track speeds capable of some 240+ mph and with that, comes tremendous stresses on the body of the driver.
G-forces, both lateral and longitudinal, will put a lot more load onto the neck of the man behind the wheel. This equates to around a 30-40% increase in load or 30-40kg.
Drivers must, therefore, be at peak physical condition if they are to withstand the strains driving for sustained periods of time. When you consider that the leg muscles required to use the brake and the shoulder muscles to support both the neck and arms need to be conditioned very carefully, it is no wonder that drivers go through such dedicated fitness regimes.
Those who follow the sport keep a very close eye on the fitness of drivers before key races. If a racer picks up an injury or is rumoured to have an issue with their fitness, it can have a dramatic effect on the latest F1 odds, highlighting just how important the health of the driver is to the outcome of the race.
Why is Cardio Fitness so Important to an F1 Driver?
During a race, the heart rate of a driver can increase dramatically. The individual behind the wheel will be wearing thick, protective clothing and be encased in a small cockpit. Not only does this add to the psychological pressure but it also increases the temperature around the driver.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) 13 November 2018
This naturally will bump up the heart rate making cardiovascular fitness a very important factor in coping with the stress of working in these conditions.
Hydration is the Key to Success
Some of the race venues include tracks in Singapore and Malaysia where humidity levels are very high. An F1 driver can lose around three litres of fluid during a race which equates to about four per cent of their body weight. Hydration is, therefore, vital to avoid cramping and maintain driver performance.
These are just some of the factors that expose why Formula 1 drivers are some of the fittest athletes in any sport which just goes to show that driving around a race track is not as easy as it sounds.