F1 2017: the physical challenge final for the pilot


while the new cars will be slower in a straight line, the remarkable increase of downforce and the tires are 25% wider than in 2016, will inevitably test the physical condition of the pilots as they were years ago that was not the case.

The goal is to improve around three seconds per lap to the times and that means, invariably, get a-speed cornering very top, because the engine power will not increase beyond the improvement is usual each year, with a regulation-in this sense, yes – continuo and with no major changes.

Thus, the physical form of the pilots happens to be decisive for the outcome of the competition and the pilots know it well. For this reason, since the end of November ended the last season in Abu Dhabi, both pilots as trainers put their hands to work to develop a training plan in accordance with the new requirements.

Start early

The majority of the riders began the plan at the end of December, a few days before the Christmas holidays. Later, already immersed in the new year, the intensity has been increasing to try and reach the 100% of its capacity time to pay with guarantees in the test in Barcelona: the first real test with the new cars.

These tests, which will begin on the 27th of February, there will be in a circuit with curves are especially demanding, so it is important that the pilots have reached a condition of optimal physical, especially bearing in mind that, especially the second week, the teams will try to complete at least two distances from Grand Prix in a single day.

“ Barcelona is probably one of the tracks most tough calendar,”, recognizes Stoffel Vandoorne, pilot of McLaren-Honda, which this year faces its first season as a driver owner after the appetizer of the Bahrain Grand Prix from 2016. “So, to be able to start driving immediately, you have to be at 100%. If you’re going to do around 100 laps of the day, it becomes something really hard if your neck does not hold a”.

Something more than a neck superhuman

The main objectives are to strengthen the muscles of the neck, as well as to improve the stability of the trunk and upper body stronger to cope with the increasing forces G. But the resistance, obviously, is an important point, because this is not only to have enough strength to hold the car, but also the resistance required to get it for almost 120 minutes of continuous activity.

in this respect, Vandoorne says that “the biggest challenge for the riders in 2017 will be (to endure) the G forces on the neck. The speed curve will be much higher, since then they are in the simulator. But to know how it will be in reality is extremely complicated, because we cannot replicate these forces in the simulator”. Therefore, pilots should prepare for a scenario is really complex, even to provide for conditions more harsh than initially anticipated. As the time comes to get in the car, there will be no turning back and only four days of test pilot does not give rise to a margin of error in any sense.

“ We have to train a lot during the winter to prepare and anticipate what comes. Currently, the neck is one of the harder muscles to train, it is fragile and it is easy to overload, so that there is not a specific activity that you can work with it properly”, recognizes the belgian driver, which, however, already knows what it is to drive cars hard as the GP2 or Super Formula japanese.

The first phase

once you have completed the rest of the season 2016 and completed promotional events for the sponsors, the pilot starts their preparation towards the new season. This phase is of a great importance, because it lays the foundation for the further strengthening and increase of the intensity of the workout.

This is the phase in which we often see riders sharing experiences and training with their followers on social networks. In the case of Vandoorne, both the gym and outdoor activities provide a good compendium of physical exercise with which to start the plan. “From the end of the season past, I have been in several camps with my coach and physiotherapist Mike Collier to prepare for 2017. When we have the opportunity to concentrate on training without distractions, we can get you to do three sessions a day. First, the morning session, which is more about stretching, mobility and activation of the body. Then, usually we face a long session of cardio, something like a bike ride or race. In the afternoon, we rested a bit before going back to the gym again for another session, which usually focuses on the stability of the body and the training of the neck or the upper part of the body”. Or what is the same: live to train, train for, at least, have options to achieve success.

Reality vs. simulation

In Formula 1, the prohibition of the test private during the season and the progressive reduction of the costs, as well as the critical need to reduce the development cycles of cars, brought with it inevitably the so-called era of simulation, in which the wind tunnel and the Computational Fluid Dynamic took on a capital importance in their role to substitute for the experience on the track.

In contrast, the pilot can choose between simulate training at altitude or, directly, to move to a beautiful area of alpine. Between spending long sessions of tape or bikes static in the gym or outdoors and, of step, to complete further training with the situations that only reality can offer you (balance, pavements, uneven terrain, etc).

Vandoorne is agreed and, in what refers to the preparation for the piloting, there is no better training than, precisely, to ride. “The best training that you can do is drive the car. And no matter how much training we do during the winter with the neck and the body, I think that all the pilots suffer in the first test. An important part will be to see how the tyres will behave during the race. If we can keep pulling during the entire race and we don’t need to manage tyres as much as we have done in past seasons. In that case, the physical effort would be much greater. Everything seems to indicate that it will be hard, but until you pilotemos the car, we will not be able to say how”, judgment Vandoorne, who recalls the importance of achieving a good physical state at the global level. “The upper part of the body will need to support the higher speed in the curves. But even though you have the strength to turn, the stability of the body will be better also: there will still be to hold your breath on the curves with G-forces high -we are not able to breathe – and, therefore, the cardio is very important, and the stability of the body is extremely important also”.

The power

But if it is important to have a physical condition commensurate with the activity to be performed, the other half is also: the power of this machine was almost perfect and that is the human body. And in the case of the pilots of Formula 1 even more, because they have the misfortune of developing their profession in a discipline in which every gram is measured to the nearest millimeter, and must be valued at its fair measure because it influences the lap time. “The weight is always important, and teams are pressuring riders to be as light as possible, because they are always looking for a way to introduce new components on the car and, obviously, this leads to an invariable increase in weight. But there has to be a balance, because you need to keep your physical form in good condition. For me it has been particularly easy to maintain my weight during the winter. That and feeling fit is the main thing to keep in mind”.

The own Stoffel says: it is not only to lose weight, hasand that do so in a way that does not affect your physical condition to find a balance between what you can steal from the timer thanks to 200 grams less of body weight and a hypothetical weakness that makes you fail a few laps to start the race. To this end, diet is paramount. “In terms of nutrition, I pay attention on what to eat, but once in a while you have to enjoy yourself, is also important. When preparing a plate of food, I firmly believe that you should always be colorful, it is the first thing to which you should pay attention to. If the food on your plate is all the same color, then it is probably not balanced and have a good balance is good for you. Meals are not specifically good for you! and the worst thing is not to eat anything!”.

The successful, but also lasts the life of the pilot, which is not limited to lead, you have to be an elite athlete, an engineer, and a good public relations.