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As Simon Reynolds, driver performance manager at McLaren Applied Technologies, tells the Telegraph: "An F1 driver is a complete athlete. ... They are probably some of the fittest athletes around. Marathon runners and sprinters may work on specific skills but F1 drivers have to be good at everything."
We have to give our workout more variety than ever with our accessories, from warmup to cooldown. Increase your body’s capacities every day, from stability to mobility, from power to speed
Whether it’s a turbocharged V6 engine or the latest carbon-fiber chassis, Formula 1 is a sport where innovation and technological advances are king.
But while the power, muscle and endurance of F1 cars is renowned, the power, muscle and endurance of the men behind the wheel is often overlooked – certainly in comparison to other elite athletes.
If you were to list the top five fittest athletes in the world, names such as Mo Farah, Rafael Nadal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Chris Froome and LeBron James would more than likely be on it.
The reality is very different.
“Formula 1 drivers are extremely fit athletes,” says Eliot Challifour, a performance coach who has worked with former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne and others over the course of his 15 years in motorsport.
“When they are in the car, they are actually sustaining heart rates very similar to that of a high-level distance runner or cyclist – it’s 80 per cent or more of their maximum heart rate they're having to maintain for a couple of hours.
“Although they're not running or moving, they've got a lot of forces that are being applied to them. They're coping with five or even six times their body weight.”
The downforce generated by an F1 car – which allows them to corner at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour – exposes drivers to G-force up to 6.5G, meaning they need a strong neck – strong enough to “hold five to six times the weight of their head” – to withstand the stress on their upper body.
That involves some specific exercises training that you aren’t likely to see at your local gym, although Challifour is careful not to overstretch – literally – his high-profile clients.