The Scuderia Ferrari team preparing for this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix on Friday (14/09). (Photo courtesy of Singapore Grand Prix)

Formula One Drivers Use Special Fitness Regimens to Overcome Singapore's Tropical Heat

AUGUST 15, 2018

Jakarta. Formula One drivers are already some of the fittest athletes, having to drive at high speeds for extended periods without succumbing to fatigue, but the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix poses a serious physical challenge due to the city-state's tropical climate. The temperature may go up to around 30 degrees Celsius, but it may reach up to 60º C inside the cars.

Formula One drivers are known to embark on special fitness regimens ahead of Southeast Asia's only Grand Prix. Here is some of the training they must endure to stand a chance to win in Singapore:

1. Ironman Challenge

To acclimatize to the tropical heat, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton wears layers of clothing, including gloves, and sits in the sauna, which is supposed to simulate the heat.

"It's just so hot, man," Hamilton said in a press release. "You have long-sleeve underwear on, a balaclava and then the suit on top of that – which is another three layers, and then gloves. Then you go into a sauna. And even if you open your visor, there is no cool breeze coming in, so you are sweating before you even get in the car."

According to Hamilton, these sessions prepare his body to deal with the high temperatures during the race, which sees him driving at up to 320 kilometers per hour for nearly two hours. Other Formula One drivers have similar sessions in the sauna, usually a few months before the event.

2. Specific Training

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen combines sauna sessions with intense aerobic conditioning, which involves six three-minute sprints separated by three-minute rest periods. This intense aerobic training helps to improve his concentration, which is especially important due to the Marina Bay Street Circuit's lack of straight sections. The 5-kilometer circuit has 23 turns.

"There are so many corners, and not many straights," Magnussen said. "So you are really working the whole time. You're not going straight, so you're not able to relax anywhere. And then, because it's a relatively low-speed track, that almost always takes us up to the two-hour limit, which is obviously very tough."

3. Remaining cool

Fluid loss is a major concern for Formula One drivers. Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo has his own trick to keep himself hydrated. He drinks five liters of water after the race. He also uses a cooling vest once he steps out of the car to help lower his body temperature.

"You feel the heat when you're in the car, but when you stop after the race and the adrenaline decreases, you feel it even more," Ricciardo said.

Sunday's race will be vital for rivals Hamilton and Scuderia Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who are both in pursuit of their fifth world title. Hamilton, who currently tops the driver championship ranking, won last year's Singapore Grand Prix. However, Vettel, who joined Ferrari in 2015, has had more wins in Singapore.