Training is a very important aspect of a racing driver’s armory. It may not look it, but racing a car at speeds up to 340kph requires a huge amount of strength, stamina and cardiovascular performance. We can endure G forces of up to 5 times the force of gravity when we drive through turns at these speeds – it can feel like your head is being ripped from your shoulders. Likewise, when we go from 300kph to 80kph in the space of 80 meters, we must be able to exert a huge amount of pressure through our left braking leg in order to maximise the performance, while maintaining complete control throughout the movement. If we are not physically fit, then performing to the high level necessary becomes near to impossible.
Many drivers start from a young age where they experience the effects of g-force and the effect that racing has on our heart rates (we can reach 160-190bpm over a sustained period of 2-4 hour periods, depending on the race event). As I started quite late, at the age of 18, I did not experience the grip of a hot Italian race track on super sticky karting tyres – and due to lack of testing I have to ensure I am as fit as possible before I get in a race car.
My off-season weekly training includes roughly 3 strength and conditioning sessions, 4 runs, 2 spinning sessions and 1 yoga session. This enables me to improve my strength, cardio performance, flexibility and mindfulness on a balanced program of holistic improvement. The benefit to the mind is of huge importance too and fits in nicely with my mental performance work at Sonia Samtani’s coaching center.
I remember back to 2015 when I was racing Asian Formula Renault. The car and tracks were not particularly challenging to me physically, but I was to be rewarded by Renault with a test in a World Series by Renault car (basically, Formula 2!) at Motorland Aragon, in Spain. Every comment I had heard from other drivers was that of drivers lasting half of a morning, maybe half a day, before they were physically exhausted. Thanks to my work at Pinnacle Performance, where I trained there pretty much every day for 21 days in the build up to my test, I found myself in a place where my body was able to deal with the task ahead.
As a driver, we have to jump into a car, and be in a zone of absolute peak performance regardless of circumstances that are thrown at us. For me personally, this test was an opportunity to show my talent in a ‘big’ car in Europe, directly measured against F1 team backed drivers, European Champions and the like. Although I had never driven the track, or the car, I went there as prepared as I possibly could be, full in the knowledge that I had a program from Pinnacle, who have a wealth of experience working with athletes in a whole host of disciplines, which would allow me to achieve my goal. I was definitely the fittest I had ever been going into that test. And the results showed – I completed the test, with close to nil physical effects or fatigue which the team’s and engineers positively commented on.
The feeling of being at peak performance in the body cannot be underestimated. I work to ensure my soul, mind and body are at the highest level possible now to reach my goals. And I can happily say that going into the new race season in 2016, I have surpassed my peak fitness of November 2015, and am even more ready for the challenges which will come my way in the coming race season.
If you are a driver or athlete who would like help in performing to your highest potential, feel free to come along to Pinnacle Performance with me for a trial session.
All the best.