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F1 drivers' hearts beat 190 times a minute in races

  • Story Highlights
  • Formula One drivers' hearts beat up to 190 times a minute during races
  • Heart rate is above most other athletes, making aerobic fitness very important
  • Drivers have to deal with forces of up to 5Gs during races
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By CNN's Glen Scanlon
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LONDON, England -- Formula One drivers spend a lot of time talking about the gym and going jogging.

Toyota's Timo Glock has to spend a lot of time in the gym to be fit enough to race.

Even when they're on holiday there is a gym close at hand -- in fact many list fitness as a hobby, which is a little on the sad side.

However, they're exercise obsessed for a good reason: without being in peak fitness they would not be able to handle the stresses of driving a Formula One car at 350kmh.

It's perhaps the one situation where sitting down for up to two hours is actually very, very tiring.

According to Toyota, their drivers -- Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock -- would not last a race without getting sweaty in the gym.

"The highly-efficient carbon brakes slow a car down so rapidly and the downforce generated by current aerodynamics is such that a driver experiences a peak of around 5Gs under braking and in high-speed corners," the team said.

"This affects the whole body but has its most dramatic consequence on the neck and chest."

The team said for a "typical person" the forces were almost unimaginable, the closest comparison they could make was with a rollercoaster -- though that is some way off.

During a race, most drivers had an average heart rate around 170 beats per minute -- higher than most other athletes -- with a peak of 190, Toyota said. Moreover, this season -- with traction control removed -- the drivers heartbeats had increased up to 10 beats a minute.

Glock said Formula One was unique when it came to the fitness requirements.

"I would say it's completely different to any other sport because you have a heartbeat average of 170 over an hour and a half and you never see that in another sport," Glock said.

"That makes it completely different. That's the reason why you have to be really fit as a Formula One driver."

Toyota team doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli said the drivers had to have a very high aerobic fitness level.

"They go jogging, cycling, all sports that involve aerobic area. The second part of the training is specific for the neck. They need a very strong neck because every corner puts a load of around 20-25kgs on the neck, and obviously a strong upper body and forearms."

Ceccarelli said keeping the brain in top condition was also important.

"The brain is just like a muscle and you can train it."

He has developed computer simulations which could test -- and improve -- reaction times, multi-tasking and spatial awareness.

Trulli said he used the above to ensure he was mentally prepared for a race.

"We do mental preparation with some of these simulations which have been developed through the years. I can easily do them at home or even during the Grand Prix weekend using my computer.

"It's all about keeping concentration and trying to be fit and concentrated for a race distance, which is not so easy in a Formula One car because obviously it's very quick."

Ceccarelli said studies had shown a marked difference between how racing drivers and normal people responded to the tests.


"The difference is that the driver is much more economical in managing this performance, so his brain is working in an economical way compared to a normal person.

"That means he is able to carry on this performance for a longer time compared to a normal person. That is the important point we have to consider in the training."

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