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Singapore Grand Prix – The physical challenge behind F1 drivers

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For Formula One drivers, the Singapore Grand Prix represents the toughest physical challenge of the year. A combination of heat, humidity and a race that regularly runs to its two-hour time limit, makes for a serious workout for the body.

Add into the mix the mental challenge of threading a car between concrete barriers at speeds of over 180 mph, and the race in Singapore is truly a challenge unlike any other in the world of sport.

Over the course of Sunday’s race, each driver’s body will be fighting a losing battle against dehydration and heat stress. Aside from the obvious physical discomfort they cause, the other concern is the impact they have on mental performance and concentration levels.

Much like an F1 car, the body needs specific preparation to operate as close as possible to its peak during the Singapore Grand Prix, and drivers and their trainers go to great lengths to maximise performance.

But even the fittest drivers are close to their limit, and if things go wrong, the cockpit of an F1 car at Singapore can quickly become an intolerable environment.

Typically, a driver will lose as much as three kilos of body weight through sweat during the two-hour race in Singapore, which is the equivalent of three litres of fluid. Depending on the driver’s starting weight, which can be anywhere between low-60 kilos for shorter drivers and as much as 75 kilos for taller drivers, they are experiencing somewhere in the region of 4% to 5% body-weight loss by the end of the race.

Each car is fitted with a drink bottle to replenish those lost fluids, but the size is often determined by car design — and in Formula One performance always takes precedence over driver comfort.

Regulations allow the bottle to be up to 1.5 litres in size, but it’s often just 500ml or a litre to save weight. What’s more, the temperature of the drink is not immune to the conditions in Singapore and is often likened to “drinking tea” during the race.

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