Paris (AFP)

Physical and mental: Formula 1 requires resistance, endurance, reflexes, an expanded field of vision, analytical skills, decision-making skills and exceptional composure, all qualities that pilots work all year round in training. .

Do not say that they are not athletes! Their sport requires first of all an impeccable physical condition.

"There is a lot of cardio, running, cycling, swimming, details for AFP Pierre Gasly.We put on weight but we do not need to lift 150 kilos in the bench press. more about muscular endurance because the races last an average of one hour and 30 minutes and you do not have to end up after an hour and a half to have a cramp.It is a lot of work on the abdominals to have good stability.

No question of too much muscle development because weight is a critical factor in F1 (the kilos equivalent to tenths of lost or lost seconds) and the man the adjustment variable when his car is too heavy.

Dr. Riccardo Ceccarelli, founder of Formula Medicine, who oversaw the training of Charles Leclerc in the past and Robert Kubica today, continues: "We work a lot on circuit, going from one exercise to another, to be intensive, not boring and to work alternately several groups of muscles. "

"We also use a lot of unstable positions," he adds, "it works on the balance and the sensitivity of the body, which is very important because the drivers must be sensitive to the movements of their car."

In a video posted on Instagram, Romain Grosjean was seen doing push-ups on the balloons!

- "Weird looks at the gym" -

On the other hand, the pilots receive sudden accelerations and decelerations and significant lateral forces in turns, up to five or six "g" (the initial gravity). They have to bear up to five or six times the weight of their head and the helmet that protects it.

Hence the importance of a specific work of bodybuilding with the help of tools that look like instruments of torture!

"There are elastics or straps to put around the head that you can connect to weights or weighted helmets, says Valtteri Bottas.I rather do that at home but I have sometimes attracted a few looks It can be a bit painful when you resume training after the break of the offseason, but I like that. "

The rest is played in the head, says Ceccarelli, who offers pilots training modules of three hours per half day, an hour and a half focused on the physical and an hour and a half on the mind.

"When you have reached a high fitness level and you can drive without getting tired, just maintain that," he says, "but you can still progress mentally and that is what improves your performance. . "

- "Treat more information" -

In its infancy twenty-five years ago, this training of the brain has been perfected with great speed since the beginning of 2010, in parallel with advances in computer science and image technologies.

The pilots work their reflexes and their field of vision with a machine on which lights come on one after the other and that it is necessary to extinguish as quickly as possible by touching them, by catching or by returning balls coming from all parts or more recently through virtual reality headsets.

"It's neurostimulation," says Grosjean, "we do not use our whole brain, we know it's about activating neurons that can process more information than you could before."

And the Frenchman goes on to the demonstration: "the eyes always send us so much information but we can treat more, to be able to talk to you and at the same time to see that he is playing with his pencil and that 'on TV they show Lewis Hamilton.'

New frontier of mental training, at Formula Medicine, pilots connect during exercise to machines measuring their heart rate and their brain activity, to assess their level of stress and energy consumed and, ultimately, to learn how to reduce in race.

"Sometimes, we get the impression that we are stressed when we are not, or the opposite." It takes years to understand, says Leclerc, who was adept. you just have to learn the techniques to relax or motivate, to try to be always in the right window mentally to be able to give the best of oneself. "

© 2019 AFP