How fit are pro racing car drivers? This is a guest post from Silverstone Race track, who are offering a new for 2011 track club day, which will test any driver from the compete novice to the seasoned professional.
We will soon be posting a testimonial to the track club day where you can get a chance to compete in real racing cars and fulfill your dreams of driving like Schumacher/Hakkinen/Hamilton (take your pick).
After you’ve taken part in a supercar driving experience or one of the increasingly popular Formula One-style driving experiences, you’ll most likely be aching all over – using all those unfamiliar muscles and being subjected to all that power in the confined space of the car’s cockpit is exhilarating, but also totally exhausting.
So as you’re nursing your lower back muscles, spare a thought for what pro drivers have to go through for 90 minutes or so of flat-out concentration, stamina and skill in the beating sun! Your driving experience will have given you some taste of what it takes – but read this and you’ll have renewed respect for the pros…
Heat is a primary concern for any athlete, and in Formula One training facilities, drivers are subjected to exercise programmes involving specialised heat chambers. Drivers can lose up to 3kg of their bodyweight during a single race.
Reflexes are paramount in a sport dealing in performance differences of fractions of a second per lap. Formula One drivers train using a machine called BATAK, a unit of LED clusters which must be stretched towards and touched when they light up to train and improve response times.
Physical strength conditioning is very specific with Formula One drivers – the neck is under five or six Gs of pressure and with the weight of a helmet, the neck has to cope with supporting up to 24 kgs of weight. Neck, shoulder and chest muscles need to be trained ruthlessly with specialist unforgiving robot gym machines, and with the use of large elastic bands to imitate G-Forces and train them to cope with the strain. The core muscles of the midriff and abdomen are also key to success: F1 drivers train on exercise balls with blindfolds on to coax the microfine control over this area of the body they need out on the track.
Stamina-wise, experts believe an F1 drive can be as grueling as a 26-mile run. This literally marathon undertaking therefore requires up to four hours a day of intensive cardiovascular exertion. The typical F1 driver would have a 7% bodyfat ratio, achieved through swimming, cycling, jogging and even… rollerblading. And their heartbeats are measured at an average of 170 over the course of a 90-minute race – higher than in any other sport.
Nutrition and hydration for drivers mirrors that of top-class track and field athletes. It’s the familiar story of carb loading before a race, as well as the intake of huge amounts of water to combat dehydration and its attendant threat to concentration and focus.
Photos courtesy of the Porsche Human Performance Centre
For anyone who’s caught the driving experience bug, and is serious about finding out precisely how ‘fit to drive’ they are, driver fitness assessment facilities like the Porsche Human Performance centre located at Silverstone offer rigorous checks for athletes, monitoring all aspects of fitness related to driving in state-of-the-art facilities.