Formula One, or simply F1, is an international motor racing competition. F1 is the world’s top level of single-seater, open-wheel, and open-cockpit racing.
The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, or International Automobile Federation) is a global body that oversees and sanctions Formula One racing. The term ‘Formula’ refers to the set of rules that all competing vehicles and drivers must adhere to.
Formula One is a physically and mentally demanding sport. The automobiles are speedy in general, but particularly in turns. Driver fitness becomes extremely important at such high turning speeds. Some argue, however, that Formula One drivers are not athletes.
Formula One drivers are athletes who must be extremely fit in order to maintain control of their vehicles. Because of the G forces involved, they must have tremendous core and neck strength. For the whole two hours of the race, an F1 driver’s heart rate maintains over 170 beats per minute.
As they press upwards of 100kg on the brake pedal for cornering, their lower body must be extremely powerful. To stay in shape for the upcoming season, many Formula 1 drivers run marathons or compete in Iron Man races.
Is F1 A Sport?
Many claim that Formula One isn’t really a sport. Until the race is over, drivers sit in their cars and drive in circles for a number of laps. Isn’t that something that everyone can do? After all, the majority of us drive our automobiles on a daily basis.
A sport is described as “a physical activity involving skill in which a person or team competes against another or others for entertainment purposes.” This suggests that Formula 1 is not just a sport, but also a team sport.
In addition to the World Drivers Championship, the Formula One teams compete in a Constructors World Championship in which they receive points. There would be no vehicles to race without the teams that support the drivers.
Formula One teams are made up of hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals who dedicate their lives to creating the best Formula 1 vehicles possible. They are always attempting to enhance their vehicles during the season in order to get an advantage over their competition.
To construct and work on a car in preparation for a racing weekend, a whole team of personnel is required, as well as to maintain the car running at peak performance throughout the weekend. After the race, the same team must dismantle everything and transport it to the next racing location.
The team also has a significant role to play in the race. Teams employ racing strategists that analyze the best plan for winning races or making it to the finish line. As the race develops, they are continually assessing and altering their strategy.
Pit crew members can be regarded as significant athletes as well. The quickest pit stop in history belongs to Red Bull. They are able to stop the car, raise it up, and change all four tires in about two seconds as it comes into the pit box at roughly 50 miles per hour. In a Formula 1 garage, you won’t find your typical beer-drinking technician. The ideal pit-stop, which can make or break your race, takes a great deal of skill and synchronization.
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Are F1 Drivers Athletes?
Anyone can sit in their automobiles for two hours and drive around in circles like a Formula 1 driver. Many people, including even professional athletes, have made this claim. However, this is just not the case.
If you put an ordinary person in a Formula 1 vehicle, they will most likely be unable to even start the car owing to the intricate clutch system, let alone accelerate from 0 to 120 MPH in under 5 seconds when the start lights go out.
Once they get it rolling, their neck muscles will most certainly give out after 5 or 6 laps (if they can get it up to full speed). In fast corners, Formula One drivers may endure up to 5 Gs. That means that at that period, your head plus your helmet (about 7 or 8kg) weighs 5 times heavier.
If they do manage to bring the car up to 210 MPH along the main straight, they will need to use just their left leg to press down on the 100kg brake pedal, slowing the automobile down to 60 MPH in under 3 seconds. Additionally, while braking, a force of 40kg will be pulling your head forward.
All of this occurs when adrenaline rushes through your body and your heart rate hovers between 170 and 200 beats per minute. Simply keeping the car on the track necessitates a high level of attention. Formula One drivers accomplish this while maintaining continual contact with their team and modifying vehicle parameters in accordance with their plan.
If you want to go any farther, the cockpit of a Formula 1 vehicle may reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and drivers can lose up to 5 kilograms of body weight in a two-hour race. So, if you want to lose weight, don’t go on a diet; instead, become a racing driver!
At the end of the day, driving a Formula 1 vehicle on the highway is not comparable to driving a conventional road automobile. To drive these vehicles, you need a lot of physical power, yet Formula 1 drivers do it for two hours straight.
Drivers Weren’t Always Fit
The drivers, on the other hand, weren’t usually health fanatics. If you’ve ever seen vintage Formula 1 film or even seen the movie Rush, you’ll notice that many drivers spend their time drinking and smoking, leading to a sort of ‘playboy lifestyle.’
As seen in the film Rush, this was made popular by James Hunt (highly recommended by the way). When a young German driver emerged on the Formula One scene 30 years ago, though, everything changed.
Michael Schumacher was the driver in question. When it came to driver fitness, he was the one who altered the game. He was the first driver in Formula One to take his health and fitness seriously, and it paid off.
He was able to outperform his competition in races and gain a significant advantage. It showed in the longer, hotter races, where he was still able to push his car to its limits while other drivers grew fatigued, lost focus, and made mistakes.
Since then, drivers have realized that Formula One requires tremendous physical power and that if they can perform at their best, they can gain an advantage over their competitors. Since then, the vehicles have gotten considerably quicker and more difficult to drive, and any Formula 1 driver must now be physically fit.
The Vitality Required To Drive A Formula 1 Car
Let’s begin with the fundamentals of acceleration and braking. The easiest is acceleration; you will most certainly encounter a maximum of 1G if you accelerate quickly, but this is similar to the sensation you get when a jet accelerates off a runway for take-off, albeit a little more intense.
The hardest part is slowing down. Formula 1 vehicles can accelerate from 210 mph to 0 mph in less than three seconds. During this extreme deceleration, Formula 1 drivers encounter roughly 5Gs. So, if your head weighs 8kg with your helmet on, it suddenly weighs 40kg and is yanked forward with as much power.
This deceleration is so intense that the driver’s face deforms during those few seconds of heavy braking, according to research. Furthermore, while braking, your neck must be strong enough to hold your head up and stare into the bend. As a result, Formula 1 drivers can lift a weight of 40 kg with just their necks.
The amount of force you must apply to the brake pedal in order for the automobile to slow down is included in the braking. To apply the brakes in these hard braking zones, drivers must exert 100kg of power on the brake pedal. Furthermore, because they are unable to put their entire leg on the brake pedal due to their driving posture, the force is generated by their calves and ankles.
When approaching high-speed curves, drivers travel at speeds ranging from 100 to 200 miles per hour. The drivers are pulling 5Gs laterally in these turns. Consider the same scenario as before: you’re speeding around a turn at 150 mph when a 40-kilogram force pushes your head to the side.
G-forces have an impact on a driver’s core strength as well. Even though they are firmly strapped into the vehicle, they must be able to maintain control of their steering and maintain their body’s posture as G-forces press them in all directions.
Finally, the car’s drivers require a great deal of grip strength. With all of the G-forces present, drivers must be able to maintain their grip on the steering wheel for the length of the race. If you’ve ever gone karting, you’ll know that after approximately 30 minutes of holding the steering wheel, your hand starts to cramp, regardless of how slow they are in compared to a Formula 1 vehicle.
A Formula 1 car’s cockpit, in most situations, achieves extreme temperatures. Drivers must deal with high heat in the automobile for two hours while having adrenaline coursing through their veins. For the course of the race, a driver’s heart rate might easily maintain above 180 beats per minute. The heart rate at rest is 50 beats per minute. This is a marathon runner’s equivalent.
The average number of resting breaths per minute is 10-12. However, a driver’s breaths per minute can exceed 40 while driving a Formula 1 car at maximum speed. Other top sportsmen, such as long-distance runners, are in a similar situation.
During a race, drivers can lose up to 5kg of body weight. As a result, staying hydrated throughout the build-up to a Grand Prix weekend, as well as during the race, is critical. The drivers receive a drinks bottle filled with an ‘energetic drink,’ which they use to stay hydrated throughout the race.
The response times of Formula One drivers are extraordinary. When the lights go out, Formula 1 drivers, like Usain Bolt at the outset of a sprint race, must react in a fraction of a second to get a good start. But the story does not end there. During a race, drivers also use their responses.
When a car flips in front of you at 200 mph, you only have about half a second to react and escape colliding with it. Racing drivers have spontaneous reflexes like this. When going at that speed, your brain will most likely only notice the spinning automobile a few seconds after passing it.
Aside from all of these physical demands, driving a Formula 1 vehicle necessitates a high level of mental attention. Examine the many buttons and settings on the steering wheel of a Formula 1 vehicle. All of them must be understood by drivers, as well as when they should be used.
Over the course of a lap, drivers may modify these parameters many times. There have been instances where a driver needs to alter settings to override the car’s electronics, which necessitates scrolling through many menus while traveling at 200 miles per hour with their race engineer explaining what to do.
So, how can these drivers keep healthy enough to drive in these harsh circumstances in a Formula 1 car? The majority of drivers train every day, if not twice a day. The finest fitness, however, is their race fitness, which can only be obtained by driving a Formula 1 vehicle.
Weight helmets are used by drivers to strengthen their necks and imitate the G forces they would encounter in the automobile. They also put a lot of emphasis on core training in order to be strong enough to handle the car for the duration of the race.
During the off-season, many drivers participate in marathons and Iron Man competitions to keep in shape and prepare for the following racing season. During their training sessions, drivers concentrate on general strength and stamina.
These drivers, on the other hand, do not appear to be bodybuilders. They follow a rigorous diet and exercise routine, and the majority of them weigh less than 80 kg. This is because, to make the automobile as quick as possible, Formula 1 teams attempt to keep everything on the car as light as feasible.
Drivers in Formula One are world-class athletes. Despite their little size, they possess extraordinary strength. They have the response times of a sprint runner and the stamina of a marathon runner awaiting the start of a race. Furthermore, they are subjected to G pressures that no other person, with the exception of jet pilots, is subjected to.
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