Former F1 Driver Examines Physical Challenges of Racing
Martin Brundle, former F1 driver and TV pundit, investigates the physical effects of driving a Formula One car by undergoing a series of assessments at QinetiQ's human performance laboratories.
When I was in a Grand Prix car at Silverstone early in this year, it reminded me yet again
just having credibly physical layout to drive. From the onboard cameras, it looks like the
drive is it just easily turning the wheel and cruising along although we know that they are
In commentary, I’ve struggled to express to you just how difficult this motor racing luck
is. Well today, using a number of experiments, I’m going to show you the challenges they
Formula One Drive is often had access to two physical trainers to help them work out
when they’re at test, races and home. The teams will also have physiotherapist on hand.
Today’s Formula One drivers are super fit athletes. Now, at 37, I’m not as fit as I used to
be when I’m in racing but I’m not—so let’s find out what my base line is.
This is a standard gym workout in a normal kit. My resting pulse is 58 and with a solid
effort, it will go to 150, easy enough. Constantly driving with a high heart rate, it’s no
surprise at all that driver’s cardiovascular system is impressively developed. In a very
crammed environment, the heart and lung must pump blood and absorb oxygen in
Breathing is surprisingly difficult in the aerodynamic void of the cockpit, especially as
they must also wear a crash helmet. Leaving at the lungs and diaphragms is heavily
restricted by the seat and seatbelts. Right now though, my body can breathe quite easily.
Here, I’m working my cardiovascular system with my legs on the bike. At the driving
though, it has developed specific exercises to build essential strength in their upper
bodies where it’s most needed. A simple workout like this though, it was a sure
representative of the real challenge.
So that’s a workout but I am enjoying air conditioning and normal gym kit, that’s not the
environment a Formula One driver works in. It just hits in the heat source and it’s
completely closed. Let’s see how that feels.
All over fireproof clothing, along with gloves, shoes and helmet are great for keeping
flames out but also, keep the heat in. My pulse goes immediately to 192 and breathing is
becoming very hard. The gym is now up to 50°C just like the cockpit of a Formula One
car. My skin rises to 36° and I’m sweating profusely. This is seriously hard work.
The cruel irony is that the muscles working hardest in this cramped environment have
been done by full harness seatbelts which are so tight, they hurt. The neck protector is
invaluable in a crash but as to the muscular challenges. —and you have a heart bursting
Okay. That was—there is no way I can do that for two hours when I blink. It’s a—we’re
at the benefit of competition and adrenaline but there’s another more mysterious and
invisible force that have to cope with. This amazing piece of equipment is called a
centrifuge. It’s basic connected in their—they are going to apply g-force to my body so
that I can explain to you just what it feels like. Let me tell you what g-force is in real
terms. Imagine you’re driving really quickly through around the back and grandma sitting
in the back slides from side to side across the car, she’s not going to impressed and it’s
the g-force that is doing that but a Formula One car can achieve five g when cornering
and breaking, that’s five times the force of gravity. Let’s see what that feels like.
This centrifuge is going to apply force to my body as if I were accelerating, that’s 2g in a
Formula One car and of course, the drivers have to accept that natural g to the corners
and heavy braking g up to five and when you get to that kind of level, trying to push my
arms away is a really special effect but I’m really going head side to side and mainly
more of energy. I’m struggling to speed now. G-force so tough on your power and your
energy affect your ability to breathe and may even affect your vision too. It’s no wonder
the drivers have to be so tightly fitted in the car so they don’t move around. The cars are
tailored to them like a suit and they’ve got drive the car, communicate with the pit, race
with other cars too, all with the kind of forces going on inside the cockpit, absolutely
G-force physically hurts and to experience and purified g without having to see about all
the other things going on around you on track is an amazing amount of energy. Now, we
understand more about the physical challenges the drivers face every corner of every lap.
For our next feature, I’m going to drive the Williams-Toyota at Silverstone to see how all
of these relate behind the wheel and on the track.
Former F1 Driver Examines Physical Challenges of Racing
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