Mental training and vegan diets – the fitness secrets of Formula-E stars

Mental training and vegan diets – the fitness secrets of Formula-E stars

It all kicks off at 7:30 am, with four sessions including a 45-minute race – drivers have their work cut out for them on a race day in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

They need considerable endurance on the circuit. While braking, drivers experience G-force up to three times their body weight.

Drivers don’t get a second’s rest as they go wheel-to-wheel on challenging narrow city streets at a top speed of 280km/h, with their pulses soaring to 200bpm.

Weather conditions can also pose a considerable challenge to the drivers, at the Santiago E-Prix last season temperatures reached 44 degrees. Even in colder temperatures, they can lose up to two kilograms from sweating.

One thing is certain: Formula E drivers need to be in top physical condition. This is a key requirement to winning the season.

Intensive summer break

How do drivers reach top fitness level? 

Formula-E champions are made in the summer. A four-month summer break may seem long, but these months are filled with an intensive training programme, as Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans described before the start of the season: “Over the summer, I trained hard to stay in top physical condition and to achieve a high level of performance. Most of my training took place in Monaco.”

Stoffel Vandoorne was also often back home in Monaco over the summer, where the Mercedes-Benz EQ driver could be seen running and training in the gym. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Off season grind 💨👊🏼

A post shared by Stoffel Vandoorne (@svandoorne) on

These drivers enjoy jogging, weight lifting and various other sports.

“I cycle and row to stay in shape. I also do some CrossFit training and go cross-country skiing in winter,” says Andre Lotterer of TAG Heuer Porsche.

Mental health is just as important.

Physical training alone is not enough. “My training focuses not only on physical fitness but on mental health, too. That way, my mind stays sharp when the light turns green,” explains Evans.

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In an interview, Mahindra Racing's Pascal Wehrlein describes mental training as the most important aspect: “I think that mental fitness is more important. When it comes to training your body, you reach a limit at some point, after which you can no longer improve your performance. Mental fitness is different. Your performance keeps on improving as you become mentally stronger.”

Vegan diet 

For drivers, weight plays a major role during races, which makes diet all the more important.

Interesting fact: Lewis Hamilton and Jean-Eric Vergne – the reigning champions in Formula 1 and Formula E – both follow a vegan diet. And since the summer, Sam Bird has chosen to avoid foods that contain animal products. As a result, the Envision Virgin Racing driver has dropped six kilograms and promptly won the opening race in Diriyah.

“I wanted to push myself and set myself a target, so I ran a half marathon,” he recalls, speaking after his victory.

 
 
 
 
 
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‘Bird in Flight’ running the Bournemouth half marathon last weekend for @macmillancancer

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But the decision to try a new diet was not his own idea: “My wife convinced me to go vegan. I can't claim that I follow it one hundred percent – but I definitely notice a difference in myself.”

“I have more energy and I feel lighter, as if I had a feather under my feet,” he says, explaining the impact of his diet.