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Chances are if you’ve been a car racing fan at any point, and had a conversation with a non-car racing fan you’ve heard “but they only drive in circles” or that “they only sit down and turn a wheel.”
There is a common misperception in the general public that car racing isn’t physically exerting.
This is probably because people relate what a driver does for a living with something they can easily do everyday.
Everyone can relate to running and realise how tiring it can be, so sports such as cricket, basketball, tennis, athletics, etc. obviously require great physical effort.
However, it is hard to relate to driving in a hot cabin at high speeds whilst wearing a full flame proof race suit and experiencing g-forces up to 5G in some circumstances.
There’s also a myth that motorsport drivers do not have to be fit and simply get by on their driving ability.
Drivers not only have to be fit to withstand heat – and remember that fat acts as an insulator, so being skinny is a necessity (which also helps with weight saving and distribution) – which in itself is a challenge, but also the strain of constant acceleration and deceleration with their legs and the g-forces straining their necks.
However, another dynamic that confuses the general public is that being fit as a race car driver isn’t what wins you races, but it allows you to mentally operate at the necessary level to maintain concentration for hours instead of mentally drifting off and thinking about how dehydrated you are or how sore your back is.
So if you truly believe that motorsport isn’t a sport and drivers aren’t athletes, take a look at the F1 grid for this year, because the drivers wouldn’t all be fit if it doesn’t provide them with a competitive advantage.