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Are F1 Drivers Really Athletes?

Take a back seat EV cars, time to hear the roar of a V6

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Sitting in a state-of-the-art machine that is precisely designed, tested, and engineered by world-class professionals. And all they (F1 Drivers) do is turn the steering wheel and step on the accelerator. How hard can it be?

Honestly, way more than you can imagine. F1 drivers can face up to 5Gs of force during a race. Not to mention the constant communication between teammates, learning the opponent’s tactics whilst travelling at a top speed of 325km/h in the Singapore Grand Prix & being strapped in a fire-retardant suit in the hot and humid Singapore weather.

Not to mention that the Singapore Grand Prix is easily the longest race in F1. That’s a lot to handle. 

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What Is Defined As An Athlete?

Let us first ponder the question: what is an athlete? The word athlete is derived from the Greek word athlon or athlein, which means “to compete for a prize”. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as someone who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise. In that case, are bowlers considered athletes, or do people who play darts count?

Again, the term is too broad, and it literally encompasses virtually everyone in this world. So let us put it as this instead. An athlete to us is defined as “an individual who performs in a competition that requires one to exert their mind (mental) & body (physical) to extreme levels to achieve greatness.”

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F1 Drivers Burn As Many Calories As A Half Marathon Runner

In one single race, an F1 driver can burn up to 1500 calories. Not to mention the added humidity in Singapore, it’ll make breathing that much harder. 

If they are strapped in a car, how can they burn so much? During braking, accelerating, and cornering, drivers can face up to 5Gs of force. Take Charles Leclerc for example. He weighs about 69kg, which means during a tight turn, he will need to combat the centrifugal force of about 345kg. 

Drivers do have a drinking system built into their helmets, but they’ll have to manage their fluid intake whilst doing all the tasks in front of them. 

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Races Are Mentally Draining

Every runner knows this. The dreaded start to a 42km marathon run. The anxiety, nervousness & constant pounding of your subconscious telling you, you can’t do it. Lifters face this too and that’s why sometimes you’ll see them prep themselves up with sniffing ammonia salts, their mates slapping them and loud music. 

F1 drivers face the same thing too. But going at an average speed of 179km/h in the Singapore Grand Prix does cause tunnel vision too. This means the driver’s peripheral vision is shortened and can only see what is ahead. Making the already fast-paced, high-adrenaline sport even tougher. 

Constant Fear Of Crashing

With cars going at a top speed of 350km/h at the Singapore Grand Prix, it’ll be very tough for drivers to make split-second decisions that can mean life or death. With 23 turns, every turn spells disaster with only the humid Singapore climate to make it worse. 

With Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen crashing back in 2017 still fresh on our minds, we can only wonder what will happen this year. 

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F1 Drivers Cannot Be Overweight

With a car designed to the smallest millimetre and when every single gram counts, the driver must not jeopardise the beautiful engineering by being heavier. This is the same concept as to why airlines must weigh your luggage before take-off and to minimize overhead compartment space. It’s not the total weight being brought up per se, but to balance the weight out. 

A driver can potentially lose up to 2 seconds in a race, just by weighing 1kg heavier. In a sport where every millisecond counts, that is a lot to lose. This means drivers must be in good physical shape year-round. 

The Singapore Grand Prix Is One Of F1s’ Biggest Nights

With a slew of concerts, big names and celebrities coming into our tiny island, you can be sure to have a night filled with fun & excitement. Now you know how tough it is to pilot a car so well designed and engineered, just sit back, and appreciate the beautiful sport of F1. 

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