How Fit Are Formula 1 Drivers?
Formula 1 drivers are subjected to a seriously demanding set of environmental circumstances during a race. Over the course of a 90-minute race, drivers have to keep consistent pressure on the pedals, keep their body steady through extreme g-forces, and withstand a highly elevated heart rate, all while maintaining focus on the road. That’s why, though it might not seem obvious at first, Formula 1 drivers need to maintain a rigorous fitness plan, meaning they are generally very fit individuals. Fitness is required to stay safe and be successful on the F1 race track.
Cardio workouts are one of the most important aspects of a Formula 1 driver’s elevated fitness routine. In normal circumstances, an adult human’s resting heart rate is around 60-100 beats per minute. However, due to the high-stress and physically-demanding environment of a Formula 1 race, drivers often reach around 160-200 beats per minute. This means that Formula 1 drivers need to maintain a very high standard of cardiovascular health so that their systems are able to withstand such a high heart rate for a long period without causing damage.
An interesting side effect of this is that drivers are often in such great health that their resting heart rate falls to around 40 beats per minute, given how often it’s being exercised.
As well as internal cardiovascular strength, F1 drivers also need to maintain a very high standard of muscle strength. This is mostly due to the extreme g-forces that a driver experiences on the track. While racing, drivers often experience up to five times the strength of gravity on their entire bodies, due to the high-speed turns and accelerations of their vehicles. If applied to an average adult, such elevated forces would easily have the ability to break bones and cause internal organ damage, so it’s highly important for F1 drivers to be strong enough to avoid these effects.
Drivers often use a combination of cardiovascular and strength-focused workouts in order to strengthen important muscles while keeping trim and lean enough to fit into the cramped cockpit of the car.
Physical fitness also helps drivers to withstand the heat conditions of an F1 vehicle; the combination of thick fire-proof overalls and heat generated from the engine make it hard to cool down the body, which causes drivers to lose a lot of sweat over the course of the race, ultimately dehydrating them. By staying physically fit, drivers are not only ensuring they have the best chance at coming out on top, but also protecting their bodies and well-being on the track.
Weight is another very important aspect of an F1 driver’s fitness, given that a lighter driver would be able to achieve higher speeds on the track than a heavier one. Alongside their exercise plan, drivers often stick to meticulously-planned diets that ensure they’re getting the right balance of nutrients required to operate under such extreme conditions. Additionally, drivers have to watch when they eat as much as what they eat. F1 races occur all over the globe, meaning that drivers are rarely sticking to a single time zone as much as other athletes. Drivers work with their coaches to ensure they’re keeping their bodies in peak form by eating what and when they’re supposed to.