With the introduction of new regulations for the 2017 Formula 1 season, which focuses more on aerodynamics this year with wider tyres and bodywork, we will see higher levels of downforce and faster cornering speeds, which means this seasons machines will be far more demanding on the driver.
The physical challenge will step up to a level that some of this breed of modern-day F1 driver have not really been accustomed to so far in their careers. It will be a big change, and maybe a surprise to some, just how ramped up the demands will be, as Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel explained to Channel 4 recently.
“The car should be significantly faster. Not so much on the straight, I think the straights will be slower in terms of top speed.
“Cornering speeds will be a lot higher which means that forces are higher, which means it will be more physical as well.
“It’s a big change, I think it will be more of a challenge.”
With the added physical pressure increasing, so must the effort of the drivers in their pre-season training regimes, and many have really upped their game this winter in terms of the intensity and longevity of their work out programmes.
Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr believes that no driver can afford to underestimate the affect the new regulations will have, and the Spaniard has been working hard pre-season to increase his fitness as well as his muscle mass, as he explained to the official formula one website recently.
“F1 in 2017 is making a big change, and that means the drivers need to prepare a bit better in terms of physical preparation because what we had last year will just not be enough.
“We now must go some extra miles so to speak.
“Instead of sessions of 50 minutes, which is normal, mine are between 1.5 and 2 hours – the length of a GP – and we’re working at around 180-190bpm heart rate.
“It also includes boxing and cardio work – it’s relentless and we never stop working during the entire session. It’s full-on physically.”
With the extra speed, downforce and lap times which are expected to be up to five seconds faster than they are at present, the neck will be subjected to even greater forces this season. That is why many drivers, including Sainz Jr, have a regime set up to target that muscle in particular.
“We have two ways of training the neck.
“Firstly, we pull and hold weights with it in the gym, which is very similar to what we will do on the track – resisting G-forces, that is – and secondly we are doing specific go-karting (which involves sticking a number of small weights to his helmet, increasing it’s overall weight by around 1.5-2kg). I do this two or three times a week.”
Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo has also been preparing for the challenge ahead, with gym sessions at the Red Bull High Performance Centre in California.
There is certainly no rest for the wicked this season in F1, where even before the championship has begun, the battle of the fittest looks to be in full swing!