Formula One Driver Fitness
Formula One drivers have to be well trained, highly conditioned athletes able to cope with the forces exerted upon them whilst racing. It is not simply a matter of sitting in a car and driving, it requires physical and mental preparation for strength and stamina. So what is involved in F1 driver fitness training? And why is it necessary?
To begin, let’s answer the second question: Why? Immense forces or loadings created by F1 cars include lateral G-forces up to 4.5 G, or 25 kg on the neck of the driver. Longitudinal G-forces can also reach 4.5 G, sustained 3.5 G of cornering force in some instances, as well as braking of up to 4.5 G and acceleration of 1 G. During the course of a race a Formula One driver’s pulse rate will remain at approximately 160 beats per minute (BPM), sometimes peaking at more than 200 BPM. The driver’s blood pressure may increase by some 50 % during the race. Add to this the intense heat in the vehicle’s cockpit and you have a lot of factors that require training and preparation of the body to make it through the entire length of a race.
Depending on the F1 team, approaches to training may vary. Because of the size of a Formula One car cockpit, it is necessary that drivers do not put on too much weight whilst developing strength. Endurance is increased through cardio-vascular training including running, swimming, cycling and kayaking. Specific muscle groups, particularly the neck and chest require work, thus special equipment has been designed for F1 driver strength training.
Another factor in F1 driver fitness training is diet and nutrition. Carefully planned healthy diets ensure the correct amount of protein, minerals and carbohydrates are consumed. As drivers may loose some 2 to 3 liters of water while racing, it is vital that they drink plenty of water prior to racing. All in all the physical endurance of Formula One drivers is quite similar to that required by a marathon runner.
Mental training is vital for Formula One drivers who need to concentrate for extended periods of time. Drivers develop extremely fine tuned sensitivity, to the point that they can sense minute changes in front-rear aerodynamic balance. They are trained to keep the engine at approximated 2000rpm and are able to make consecutive lap-times in a range of just 0.2 seconds through careful pacing. Throughout the race it is vital for the driver to maintain complete awareness, control stress and make important decisions.