Updated 07 December 2015

What it takes to be a racing driver

Racing drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, have to be just as fit as boxers, with lightening fast reflexes.


Do you think lightning reflexes, great technique and tons of talent are enough to put you behind the wheel of Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg's Mercedes?

Racing drivers certainly don’t just sit back and put pedal to the metal. They’re athletes in their own right as these fast facts show.

  • 300 km/h
  • At a speed of 300 km/h a racing driver covers 80 m a second – every time he blinks he’s 80 m further along the track and if he’s not careful he could miss a curve. That’s why drivers learn to fl icker their eyes instead of blinking.
  • A racing car is no place for someone with slow refl exes. Racing drivers hone their already fast reflexes with special eye and hand exercises.
  • Racing drivers follow intensive exercise routines to keep their upper bodies strong. A man’s head weighs 5 kg and a helmet another kilogram. When the driver goes around a curve his head eff ectively weighs four times more because of the centrifugal force. So drivers need to develop neck and shoulder muscles strong enough to support a head and helmet weighing 24 kg in total.
  • 2 litres
    Racing drivers lose two litres of sweat during a race. That’s why they’re advised to drink one litre of fluid before, two litres during and two litres after a race to prevent dehydration. Nelson Piquet was so dehydrated after the 1982 Brazilian Grand Prix that he fainted on the podium and had to be rehydrated intravenously.
  • Lewis Hamilton of Britain and McLaren Mercedes celebrates his win in the F1 American Grand Prix in Indianapolis.
  • 50 ºC
    That’s how hot it gets inside their fireproof racing suits.
  • A DRIVER’S HEART BEATS 200 TIMES A MINUTE DURING A RACE. That’s enough to make the fittest among us keel over. The average person has a heartbeat of only 70 beats a minute while the average gym enthusiast’s heart beats between 120 and 160 times a minute while exercising.
  • Racing drivers have to be careful not to build bulky muscles because muscles weigh a lot and take up space. A top racing driver’s body fat percentage is about seven per cent – the same as that of a long-distance athlete.
  • Racing drivers, just like athletes, need to regulate carefully the carbohydrates and proteins they ingest. During a weekend of racing they usually eat a lot of high-carbohydrate foods, to give them the necessary stamina.

Read more:

Extreme sports to make your heart race
F1 injuries not slowing down
More about racing drivers and their required fitness levels.




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