In a world such as the F1 were margins can be razor thin, preparation is paramount to success.
For modern day drivers, that extends far beyond the cars they are driving and encompasses training, strict dietary requirements and even jet-lag protocols to ensure their bodies are fine-tuned machines.
Daniel Ricciardo is as dedicated a trainer as anyone in the paddock, undergoing grueling pre-season sessions and training up to three times a week during the season.
Daniel Ricciardo follows a strict training regime to meet the demands of a F1 season
‘Usually on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we will do a little bit, go for a run, do some core work and some strength training,’ the Australian’s personal trainer, Michael Italiano, told the Herald Sun.
‘So nothing too big because we have obviously had a big pre-season, so it’s more just trying to maintain that fitness level now rather than trying to hit PBs.
‘Now that we are technically in-season, we are just trying to maintain that fitness level.
‘You will probably see us doing a bit of fitness training Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then come Thursday onwards it is all about making sure Daniel is prepared to perform.’
The Australian places great emphasis in training his neck, back, calves and glutes
The neck is a key part of the body for F1 drivers, who are subject to huge G-force during races
F1 cars can generate up to 5G while braking and turning corners at high speed
Italiano places particularly emphasis on training Ricciardo’s neck, a key part of the body for F1 drivers who are subject to the huge G-force generated by the cars.
G-force determines the type of force placed on a body as a result of gravity or acceleration. F1 cars can generate up to 5G while braking and turning corners at high speed, meaning the strain on the neck is five times greater than what an average person would experience on a normal day.
‘It is very important. Why you need a strong neck is because you want to keep your head still, especially when you are turning into corners so your eye-line looking into the apex is accurate and still,’ Italiano added.
‘You have then also got the G-force, some corners can go up to 4-5G which is like 35kg pushing onto the neck.
Races in hot climates such as Bahrain (above) can be particularly demanding for the body
On average, the Australian drinks up to three or four litres of fluids during a race
‘Yes, it only lasts for only one or two seconds but they are doing that for two hours. […] It is important that they keep a strong neck or they will probably lose lap time.’
With the F1 championship spanning across 23 races in four different continents, acclimatisation and sleep are just as important.
Ricciardo will be racing at home in Melbourne this weekend, but Italiano has left nothing to chance and the duo arrived in Australia from Saudi Arabia well ahead of race week to give the McLaren driver’s plenty of time to adjust to the time difference.
‘There is a big emphasis on recovery and sleep and also just making sure we can stick to an appropriate jet lag protocol because switching time zones all the time can be very difficult,’ he said.
Acclimatisation is also crucial for Ricciardo, with the F1 season spanning 23 rounds across four different continents between March and November
Racing across four continents throws up another challenge in the shape of different climates. Driving for two hours in the blazing heat of places such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or the oppressing humidity of Singapore can take its toll even on the fittest of bodies.
To balance the impact of heat, Italiano puts Ricciardo through a rigorous regime of cardiovascular training and the former Red Bull driver follows a strict hydration protocol.
‘On race day as he wakes, we usually get him to grab a drink bottle with some hydrolytes straight away and just start hydrating.
The Australian will be racing in front of his home crowds in Melbourne this weekend
‘It depends on the climate and the race we are at, but I would say [he would drink] around three or four litres and on average he is losing maybe up to two kilograms of body weight.
‘In the hot races he probably loses more, so like Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Budapest, he probably loses a bit more.
‘Then there is also a rehydration protocol after the race.’