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Video: What it takes to be an F1 driver Pt 2: Mental, physical tests and karting
Video: What it takes to be an F1 driver Pt 2: Mental, physical tests and karting
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Oct 2010   |  3:14 pm GMT  |  18 comments

Using its extensive range of racing cars, hiring in F1’s leading doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli and a host of F1 drivers, past present and future, the management at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi laid on a programme for media and a few fans designed to show what it takes to be an F1 driver. Among the guests were BBC’s Jake Humphrey and Fan Ambassador Neil Donnell.

The programme covered what is needed from a mental and physical point of view as well as out on the race track in driving challenges from karting to F3000 and a ride in the 2 seater F1 car.

In part two of this series we look at Dr Ceccarelli’s tests in more detail and the guests take to the kart track mentored by former kart champion and now Ferrari young driver star Jules Bianchi.

Ceccarelli’s tests are fascinating and revealed a side of the sport I never knew existed. The mental tests for concentration reveal just how quick a racing driver’s brain is at processing and retaining information.

Here in the video you will see that he strapped 5 kg weights to the side of helmets so our necks could feel simulated g forces. He made us hold steering wheel loaded with weights on full lock for six minutes at a time to give us an idea of how heavy the steering is when on the limit, and he tested upper body strength and stamina.

It was utterly exhausting and yet the tests were several degrees less taxing than the ones the drivers go through. Ceccarelli says that there is a misconception that because drivers sit down to compete and the effort is not obvious, therefore they are not athletes. He has been honing his research and training methods over 20 years working with F1 drivers from Jean Alesi, to Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica.

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Great video love the information.

One idea – we already have brake/throttle/revs and g-force on the screen – why not add in heart and maybe breathing rate – would be facinating to see which drivers are getting tired and give a new angle to the viewing.


So James, with a 5kg weight hanging from your helmet and laying like you were, what was that the equivalent of in “g’s”?

The average human head is 5kg, so it would be 1g, correct?


That would be twice the weight, so 2g.


Yes, you’re right. I wasn’t 100% sure but under 1g your head is still 5kg. It’s just accelerating in a different direction.


How on earth can certain analysts etc be on tv when you aren’t James? Your blog puts all the other f1 news outlets to shame.



I’d like to echo what Mnark Crooks says. You truly are a credit to F1.

the videos are fantastic and i’m dying to see the next one……


My head would fall off with 5g.

Those F1 drivers are the ultimate sportsmen, it seems to me. The physical effort is unlike any other sport, in terms of both it’s skill and enurance combined. Nothing else comes close.

When I did something similar to your Yas day, we had a go on the Batak reaction machine. We managed a best score of 80. Add a hundred to that and you get Alonso’s score.

I also learnt that at Turn 8 at Turkey the drivers pull up to 6.5g, and can feel their hearts moving inside their chest.

I used to shout at the telly during grand prods if I thought a driver was pants, but no more. All of them are awesome just to have made it onto the grid. Even Luca Badoer.


I’d say boxing/mixed martial arts are a little more physically and mentally demanding 🙂



Great report, and if I cannot be there to see the live action then a video is a good substitute. But what is the point of the irritating background rhythm in the video ?

It must be my hearing because I struggled to hear some the speach properly. So pictures, YES. Engine noises, YES. Discussion and decripition, YES.

The additional and superfluous background racket: no thank you. Keep it for the disco please. I now wait to find out if I have any supporters with similar thoughts, or am I simply a lone voice on this one.

Carlos Eduardo Del Valle

It didn’t seem to bother me that much. The Red Bull podcast is usually worse, specially when a non-native speaker like me tries to get what Coulthard or Ricciardo are saying.

Stephen Kellett

Background music is a serious mistake on most things whether it be video, TV or the swimming pool.

Musical taste is highly personal. By adding music you are almost certainly going annoy and/or offend someone. This is why pop(ular) music is so bland – the only way to please a lot of people.

When ITV was hosting F1 and for a few years went with the idiotic Duff Duff Duff music theme I hated watching it.

I’m with MK_Chris. James please dispense with the background music.


Is the lady Nazan Eckes from RTL or some other German Television channel? Just curious if I will get to see this wonderfully made article again in German 🙂


RTL. They are doing a whole show on it. I misread the list of names in our group and thought we had someone called Nathan Eccles. I was wondering, who the hell is Nathan Eccles? Turned out it was her. Lovely lady


Thanks James, Once I again I get to see the preview even before RTL have started advertising for it 🙂



Great video, Mr Bernie Ecclestone should employ you as a spokesperson for F1 (seriously).

You are a credit to F1 and a true representitive of us (the fans).



Very impressed.

As usual very informative and insightful, I for one, would be willing to pay for this kind of quality information.

Even just an option for Subscribers,(if it already exists, please forgive me and point me in that direction.)

With a few added perks, like your end of year book at a small discount, it would be a nice option.

A lot of the Web is free, and I know, people now expect that, but long term I see most sites having to have a Pay-wall.


Blade Runner


Nice video. Really informative

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