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Disposable income, fame and fun – who wouldn’t want to be a Formula 1 Driver? Sitting down for a few hours every week can’t be very testing… Or can it?

Aiming to be the best in Formula One means more than just accelerating a car. Recently, F1 teams have become more aware of how important the driver’s physical and mental conditions are, in order to enhance the global team performance.

Panasonic Toyota Racing is especially aware of this, and is the first Formula One team with a full-time medical doctor. For the first time in sports, both a doctor and a physio attend every test session and race weekend to ensure maximum physical care.

A round-the-clock programme for body and mind

To enhance the global team performance, drivers undergo a series of checks:

•    Food intolerance tests
•    Personality questionnaires
•    Personalised fitness programme with indoor and outdoor activities
•    Personalised diets
•    Relaxation and concentration techniques

All of these elements are suited to the drivers’ busy schedule: it must fit between racing, testing and fulfilling PR duties. Fitness development programmes are easier to carry out over several days or weeks during winter, a short training season.

Dr Ceccarelli, of Panasonic Toyota Racing, plans and follows-up drivers fitness:

“I give the drivers a full training, starting with a full medical check-up and physical analysis…I can draw conclusions on the driver’s body fluid level, muscular mass but also on his physical and mental energy: some drivers are like engines – they consume a lot of ‘fuel’ during a race, others less. Then I design the appropriate fitness programme – including nutrition – to help the driver to use all of his potential for an entire race.”

Fitness is determined by considering these facts:

•    Lateral G-forces exerted on a driver can be as much 4.5G [about 25kg on the neck]
•    Longitudinal G-forces exerted on a driver can be as much as 4.5
•    Acceleration – to 1G, Braking – up to 4.5G, Cornering – up to 3G
[A F1 car can break from 185kph to stand still in 3.5 seconds, 4G deceleration rate.]
•    Heart rate can reach 170 – 190 BPM
•    Pulse rate hovers around 160 BPM and has peaks of over 200. [the pulse rate of a normal healthy young man is typically 60 BPM.]
•    Blood pressure can increase up to 50% whilst racing