There is a misconception that Formula One is a lazy sport and that the drivers do not have to be physically fit. They do, after all, just sit behind the steering wheel of a car, unlike other athletes who spend a considerable amount of time engaging in very obvious physical activity. According to Simon Reynolds, the driver performance manager at McLaren Applied Technologies, however, an F1 driver is a complete athlete. He was quoted as saying, Although they are not moving dynamically like footballers or rugby players, they have to cope with a static load from the G-force as well as the vibrations and physical demands of steering the car for many repetitions.

There is more to it than meets the eye

There is definitely a lot more to Formula One racing than meets the eye. As far as logistics go, a lot of hard work goes into getting the racing equipment where it’s needed. Not many fans are aware of the fact that each team transports approximately 55 tons of cargo around the world every year, costing them in the region of $8 million. In addition to this, up to 300 trucks at a time can be found driving from one race to the next. If they were driving in a convoy, they would stretch over three miles. Similarly, motorsport enthusiasts are often blissfully aware of just how physically taxing Formula One racing can be. The fitness levels of drivers are often brushed off as inconsequential, even when it is of no lesser importance than that of other athletes.

Racing is physically demanding

In an interview with Highsnobiety, six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton said, “There’s a bit of a public blind spot when it comes to fitness and racing because people can go play football or do athletics and know that it’s physical. I guess with racing, not everyone can experience it, so people don’t know. Hamilton personally enjoys lifting weights, but because a driver can’t be too heavy, he is can’t build too much muscle. Excessive muscle mass in the shoulder and arm region can also have a negative impact on the low center of gravity a driver needs to have in the car. To stay lean and improve his heart health, he engages in a lot of cardio exercises such as running.

Neck and shoulder strength is essential

While general fitness is of vital importance, race car drivers place a lot of focus on their necks and shoulders. A typical racing helmet can weigh as much as 22 pounds. Add the weight of the drivers head and the G-force experienced during a race, and it can equate to a weight of between 60 and 80 pounds. Apart from engaging in typical neck and shoulder strengthening exercises, drivers also make use of specialized training equipment and innovative techniques to ensure their necks and shoulders can withstand the pressure of a full-speed race.

It turns out that F1 racing is a very physically demanding sport. In order to be at the top of their game, drivers need to ensure that they are in peak physical condition at all times.

By Jess Walter

Click here for full podcast playlist.