Formula One drivers are some of the fittest sportsmen in the world, and they have to be given the severe demands a race places upon them.
The most obvious one is the massive G-forces which they are subjected to during a Grand Prix. Races can last over two hours and take a lot out of the fittest driver.
There is a more humdrum issue for the drivers, and that is how to stay hydrated during the race. It is not unusual for a driver to lose up to four kilograms in weight during a race – this is due to the temperatures they endure on the track.
At the recent Indianapolis 500, which F1 legend Fernando Alonso took part in last year, high temperatures caused problems for all the drivers.
So what causes the biggest issues for drivers?
First of all, their all-encompassing fire-proof overalls mean they are going to sweat heavily during the race. Add the heat which the close-fitting cockpit’s electronics generate and the heat coming from the track and the cockpit temperature experienced by the driver can reach 50 degrees Celsius. It is no surprise hydration is an issue.
In the days before some of the hottest races on the circuit such as Australia, Malaysia or Brazil, drivers may take on board as much as eight litres of water each day.
Sports Science Studies
Apart from comfort, there is a scientific reason why drivers must keep a check on hydration. Sports science studies suggest that a person who has lost 4% of their body weight can lose 40% of their psycho-physical ability – not something you want to do when hurtling around an F1 track.
During the race the drivers have access to a water bottle – a narrow pipe feeds through to the helmet. A pump, similar to the screen washer in your average family car, feeds the liquid to the driver. This is slightly at odds with the hi-tech normally associated with F1, but its simplicity means drivers are rarely deprived of essential fluids.
To replace a litre of lost fluids, a driver must drink 50% more liquid. This will often involve a mineral salt solution.