Sports | 29 September 2017

Malaysian GP: F1 drivers – Athletes of the highest order!

2017 - Renault Sport Formula One - GP Malaysian
They may at times be considered as mere ‘weekend warriors’, but Formula 1 drivers are in actual fact bona fide athletes – and they will demonstrate this once again during Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, renowned as one of the most physically demanding races on the calendar.
by Caroline De Beaumont

If there is a particular moment during the year when Formula 1 drivers need to be in absolute peak physical condition, then this surely is it!

We’ve just come from the Singapore Grand Prix, which is extremely demanding due to the heat and its frequent tight and twisty turns, and now we go to Malaysia which is similarly one of the most physically gruelling races of the season due to the intense heat and humidity. Its series of high-speed corners adds to the challenge but, thankfully, the two long straights give us a bit of a breather!” Nico Hülkenberg, Renault Sport Formula One Team driver

Three kilos lost during the course of the grand prix!

In charge of the Renault Sport Formula One Team’s drivers’ physical preparation for race weekends, David Thomson offers an enlightening insight into the challenge that awaits Hülkenberg and Jolyon Palmer on Sunday.

It’s not uncommon to see drivers lose up to 3kg in sweat in hot and humid races like Singapore and Malaysia. That is why it is extremely important to establish a carefully timed hydration strategy during race week to suit the driver and the environment, to ensure their performance level does not drop off.” David Thomson, Renault Sport Formula One Team chief driver physio

Nico Hülkenberg has a number of tricks up his sleeve to combat the heat: 

Inside the cockpit, I have a drinks bottle that is attached to my helmet by a tube, but I can’t carry too much water on-board because it obviously adds weight to the car. For the hotter races, like Malaysia, I wear a cooling vest when I am out of the car, but I don’t wear it during the race itself, due to FIA regulations and the weight restriction placed on the driver and car.” Nico Hülkenberg, Renault Sport Formula One Team driver

An athletic challenge

The heat and humidity so characteristic of Singapore and Malaysia are factors that further complicate the already formidable challenge of driving a Formula 1 car at the limit.

The main difficulties for the drivers are the speeds and G-forces their bodies have to soak up during races. Each track is different, and therefore the physical experiences are different at each venue. Drivers’ cognitive and reaction skills must also be at their highest possible level, so that they are capable of making split-second decisions,”  analyses David Thomson, Renault Sport Formula One Team chief driver physio.

These demands have intensified this season.

The 2017 regulations mean the cars have higher cornering speeds than before, subjecting the drivers’ bodies – and in particular the neck – to even greater stress.”  Nico Hülkenberg, Renault Sport Formula One Team driver

A carefully-tailored training programme

With this in mind, it is no great surprise that the Renault Sport Formula One Team drivers have ramped up their physical training programme since last winter!

It is important to create a personalised training programme that the drivers will enjoy and stick to. The important thing for them is to make progress.” David Thomson, Renault Sport Formula One Team chief driver physio

Nico’s programme includes tennis – which he particularly enjoys playing – as well as a range of cardio-focused activities.

Join us at on Sunday, October 1, for the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix.

For further information

Malaysian GP

View more

Road4Us - Groupe Renault

Road4us: a free road safety site that is accessible to everyone

18 February 2020
View More

The New Mégane E-TECH Plug-in: extending the Renault range of hybrids

13 February 2020
View More
Economie circulaire

Circular economy: moving up a gear

31 January 2020
View More