How a driver prepares for race day

F1 drivers are known for their thick necks. “[They] have to be able to withstand the pull of a long bend or the sudden change from a long straight to a tight bend,” says Carroll.

Sharp reflexes are also imperative (and potentially vital). Carroll encourages customers to play games like racquet squash and padel, a hybrid of squash and tennis that “pushes reflexes.” Just before a race, he’ll ask his customers to play a few rounds of a game like BlazePod, a digital device involving flashing lights designed to hone his reflexes.

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One of the most amazing physical effects of a run is the dramatic weight loss that occurs – sometimes up to seven kilograms. “For drivers like Yuki who are short in stature, obviously they won’t lose as much in terms of kilograms,” Carroll says, “but the percentage of body weight lost is up there.” Much of the weight loss is due to fluids – a loss that intensifies in hot climates like the Middle East and Singapore – which means hydration before and after running is extremely important. On race day morning, drivers typically aim to consume around three liters of water. Post-run rehydration involves more water, electrolytes and protein shakes.

Nutritionally, Carroll’s approach is simple. “Good quality carbohydrates, fats and proteins,” he says. In the days leading up to the race, it will increase customers’ carbohydrate intake. Good carbs like pasta and rice, he says, and no crazy carb load. Consumption is spread evenly over a few days.

Dream it, then be it

Mental coaching has only recently been embraced by the macho world of F1 racing. But between the racetrack pressure cooker, jet lag and public scrutiny, mental preparation is just as important as physical, Carroll says.

Daniel Ricciardo’s performance coach Michael Italiano incorporates mindfulness exercises into their regular training which he shares on his audience instagram Account.

British sportsmanship coach Don MacPherson, who has worked with drivers Damon Hill and Kazuki Nakajima, has highlighted the importance of visualization in the mental strategy of F1 drivers in a recent interview. He described the imagination as your brain’s “satellite navigation system”, adding that “it can lead you to your dreams and goals”.

What if all this physical and mental preparation fails to get a driver on the podium? A successful driver must have a mindset resilient enough to move on.

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italian “24 Hour Rule” – which he detailed on a popular sports podcast Girls on the Grid – sums it up nicely. Ricciardo is allowed to simmer his emotions for 24 hours, then must channel them into a learning experience.

It’s simple but effective advice – some, even us non-F1 drivers, would do well to heed.

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