You d be forgiven for thinking that Formula 1 drivers really don t need to be all that fit. They just have to turn up for twenty or so weekends a year, drive a car, then go home and revel in their healthy bank balances.
When F1 first started, way back in the 1950s, you would find drivers passing their middle ages as fast as they passed the finish line, and it wouldn t make any difference.
These days, it s all about being the youngest and being the fittest, both of which should add up to being the fastest. You can blame Michael Schumacher for that – he was the main instigator of doing masses of off-season training, including running, weight lifting and hundreds and hundreds of sit ups.
The team doctor at Toyota, a man called Riccardo Ceccarelli, wanted to prove to all sportsmen that his guys were the best. He decided the best way to prove such matters would be to put test driver Franck Montagny in a fitness test against Australian football player Brendan Fevola.
The head to head took place this week, with many tests taking place to prove the true fitness of 26 year old Fevola, and 29 year old Montagny. The results were interesting, with the AFL star having stronger legs, in a leg power test, and faring better in a vertical jump test, but Frenchman Montagny was way out in front on the exercise bike.
The doctor, Ceccarelli, confirmed that F1 drivers have better aerobic capacity and are pretty tough in both leg and upper body strength as well. They also have to be able to withstand tough sporting conditions, including dehydration, heart beats raised to 200bpm, and having to think faster than the car itself.
I think it s fair to say that F1 is not perhaps the easy sport we might have thought it was.