What is the training of F1 drivers like?

Do you think drivers don’t need to be in great physical condition to get into their cars and drive? We tell you why it is not.

Last update: 28 April, 2022

Whoever thinks that the stars of motorsports do not prepare their bodies and depend only on their cars is really wrong. Formula 1 or F1 drivers, for example, have a strict training routine for each moment of the season.

It is clear that they do not have a great range of movement inside the cockpit of single-seaters. However, this is not to say that their bodies are not subjected to high stress loads.

Strength and endurance are key factors to endure races of an hour and a half, also preceded by several more hours in the days before the final.

How do F1 drivers train?

Like all professional sports, Formula 1 demands a very specific and hard training from the drivers participating in the category. Some of them, like the Spaniard Carlos Sainz Junior, Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas, have told how they prepare their bodies to achieve the best performances on race days.



Cardio

Cardiovascular work is practically the axis of training, as the Frenchman Gasly expressed a couple of years ago. These types of exercises provide the resistance that is needed to endure so many minutes of continuous efforts in the cabin.

To comply with this part of the training, the F1 drivers do routines of swimming, cycling, running and, in the case of Sainz, even triathlon. The Spanish pilot said that this is the part that he likes least and that is why he does it first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.

F1 driver Carlos Sainz gave details about his training in various interviews, noting that the cardio is key, although he doesn’t enjoy it as much.

Strength

In addition to doing cardio, F1 driver training includes strength training. These are the ones allow muscles to adapt to great physical demands which implies the fact of commanding a single-seater at more than 300 kilometers per hour.

For these athletes, training the shoulders, arms and core is essential. These muscles are the most demanded when moving the car’s steering wheel and maintaining a stable posture when driving.

However, leg work is also essential. As detailed Sainz, this is because it takes as much force as resistance to depress the pedals for the required amount of time without suffering cramps or losing precision due to fatigue.

Finally, and as strange as it may seem, pilots exercise the neck area a lot. These muscle groups suffer the pressure of the force of 5 G or up to 6 G (force of gravity), both forwards and backwards as well as to the sides.

To strengthen these muscles resort to isometric exercises, like the iron without resting your hands on the floor. Or to work with weights, lifting or moving loads using the head, as the team showed Red Bull with its driver Sergio Pérez. There are also devices that use springs to generate a force that athletes must overcome with the neck.

complementary training

Beyond the might and the cardioa complementary training is also done. This is the one that includes agility and reflex exerciseskeys in a pilot of first international level to react before the contingencies of the competition.

Likewise, work based on neuroscience is carried out to improve capacities such as concentration and mental resistance. In races lasting more than 90 minutes at a constant demand, these are two points that should not be neglected.



F1 drivers diet

After learning about the training of F1 drivers, it is also appropriate to mention their diet. In this sense, Sainz explained that he focuses on eating a healthy diet, with almost no junk food – except for some occasional permitted ones – and with a low carbohydrate content.

Instead, the Spaniard points to the consumption of protein to maintain muscle health, as confirmed by a study published by British Journal of Sports Medicine. Another benefit of this nutrient is to promote recovery.

Protein diets are indicated in almost any sport to help the muscles involved.

Training and diet, two vital pillars for F1 drivers

With all that has been said, it is clear that the “invisible” work that an F1 driver does in his training is the basis of what he can show later on the track. In addition to increasing their strength and endurance, it is a fact that they must be kept at an appropriate weight so as not to affect the performance of the car.

So, the next time you watch a race in this category, the pinnacle of world motorsport, pay attention to these details. Underneath the pilot suits and helmets, athletes who are just as or more trained than those of any other discipline hide.