If you were watching Lewis Hamilton win his third F1 world title last week, you could be forgiven for thinking that the life of a racing driver consists mainly of glitz, glamour and champagne. But of course that doesn’t represent the reality of the months and months of hard work and training that goes into every single race.
On Tuesday 3 November, a team of six racing drivers from M-Sport Ltd near Cockermouth spent a day at the University of Cumbria’s Fusehill Street campus undergoing intense race simulation at their ‘human performance lab’, in preparation for their upcoming endurance race that will take place under intense heat and humidity.
The day involved heat acclimatisation activities (exercising in a heat tent in temperatures around 40 degrees), followed by a recovery phase with massage and physio support, and then an imagery session using video footage of the track.
The six drivers are part of M-Sport’s race team, competing in the six races of the Blancpain Endurance series. They come from Germany, Belgium, Spain and the UK and range in age from 20 to 42.
Jeff Thorpe, senior lecturer in coaching and sport performance at the university explained:
“The drivers were in Cumbria for a week of training and to work on the cars with the engineers, but they would not normally have had access to this type of race simulation.
“The university has recently invested in some cutting-edge sports science facilities, so we’re very happy to work with M-Sport and their drivers to provide this training locally.”
Sports students and lecturers from the university were on hand to provide massage and sports therapy and to monitor the drivers’ heart rate, hydration status, heat stress, core body temperature and exertion levels carefully throughout the day.
Chelsea Norris (19), is a second-year sport coaching and development student from Carlisle and was assisting with the supervision. “We’re much more accustomed to studying sports such as football, rugby and netball,” she explained, “so I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of this preparation exercise and to work with the racing drivers to maximise their fitness levels.”
M-Sport’s fitness coach Barry Johnson was overseeing the day and observing the drivers in action. He said:
“Before every race the drivers need to complete training that is appropriate to the location of the circuit. Most of the races take place in Europe, so it’s not difficult to replicate cold weather conditions at our base in Cumbria! However, for the next race, it’s important that the drivers become acclimatised not only to the heat, but also to the extreme humidity.
“This partnership with the university is invaluable; it will provide us with analytical data and fitness reports on each of the drivers as well as additional support and research to ensure we meet all our objectives.
“Evidence gathered today will allow us to plan individual fitness strategies for each of the drivers, which they will follow for the next few weeks during the run-up to the race.”