Formula-1 racing drivers are arguably fitter than Premiership footballers – this is an opinion shared by fitness experts. While a life of adrenaline, jet-setting, sky-high monetary rewards and ardent admirers seem to be the order of the day, the health demands of the modern-day F1 driver is nothing short of miraculous.
Consider the following:
- Their ‘mobile offices’ can carry them from a standstill speed to more than 3oo km/hour in a matter of seconds, subjecting them to gravitational pressures of more than 5 G’s. This means a driver’s head, usually 6 kg, will weigh like 30 kg round a fast corner.
- Many F1 drivers experience heart-rates of 200/min during the race (resting heart-rate is around 70-80 for most people and gym treadmill users usually reach 160).
- With temperatures hitting 50 degrees C inside their fireproofed suits, the drivers can sweat around two litres during a race. That’s the equivalent of 4 bottles of mineral water.So much so, the guidelines for drivers dictate a litre of fluid before the race, two litres while driving and two litres afterwards.
In order to meet these excessive demands, all F1 drivers undergo stringent exercise regimes which may take hours daily, every day. Louis Hamilton has his workouts at the Mclaren headquarters using special contraptions. See here. Most drivers now follow a weights programme of high repetitions with low weights to build, long, lean muscles, with emphasis on the back, shoulders, neck and arms.
Apart from muscle tone, visual fitness is necessary too – and there’s more to it than hand-eye coordination. You need to hone your visual reaction time, your ability to recognize objects, and your ability to judge distance as decisions have to be made fast at 300 km/hr!
Last but not least..Formula One drivers need to control their diets by carefully regulating the amount of carbohydrate and protein that they absorb. During the race weekends, they eat pasta or other carbohydrate-rich foods to provide energy and to give them enough stamina for the race, but that of course does not mean that fettucines and fusillis are the norm always.
The physical and mental demands of these drivers are on a plane much higher than most other athletes – they have too in order to fly high too!