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.
Many racing drivers find that nothing gets the blood pumping quite like a good off-road race. The Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race is the best of the best. It is noted for being the best part of the Australian Offroad Racing Championship. The grueling race tests the mental prowess and physical fitness of the driver, as well as the strength of their machinery. It is little wonder then, that the race draws all the big names of off-road racing to Alice Springs each year.
The Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race takes place on the Queens Birthday Long Weekend in June each year. This year that falls on June 6 to 9. The race has a somewhat unique point-to-point format and starts and ends in Alice Springs. Along the way competitors hurl themselves along the old Ghan Railway to Finke where they spend the night before scurrying back to Alice Springs in pursuit of the checkered flag the following day. Competitors drive a whopping 230 km in each direction. The route has a reputation for being the most difficult off-road track available and the winning driver is invariably crowned â€˜King of the Desert’.
More â€˜regular’ drivers might find the sound of the race daunting – yet 2008 has seen hundreds of entries flood in once again. The auto field will feature around 80 cars and the entries were closed on May 30. Additionally, a whopping 449 bikes and 51 quads are scheduled to start the event. Just how many manage to make it to the finish line remains to be seen. It seems there should be a lot of healthy competition between the bikes and cars this year, just as there has been in previous years.
Last year’s winner, Australian Hayden Bentley, had his entry for this year’s race in very early with hopes of claiming the victory a second time in a row. However, he is facing tough competition with Brad Prout, Shannon Rentsch and Mark Burrows also getting ready join the field. The 2008 Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race should be action packed to the last minute so make sure that you get in on the action!