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Tennis players fitter than F1 drivers, says top driver trainer
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Jul 2012   |  3:11 pm GMT  |  217 comments

Nick Harris, one of the leading driver fitness trainers in F1 and an old friend of, and contributor to, the JA on F1 site has been speaking about the age old question of how fit F1 drivers are relative to other sportsmen.

Harris also works with two of the leading tennis players currently competing at Wimbledon and, speaking at the launch on Monday of a new range of sports clothing based on the lessons he has learned from working with top athletes, he said that although F1 is uniquely brutal in its demands on the driver, tennis is a more physically demanding sport than F1 because the athletes have no idea how long they will be on court for and may rack up many hours with the next match coming soon after the last.

Who’s fitter the F1 driver or the tennis player?

“It is very specific. For sheer exertion over 90 minutes then Formula 1 is the most demanding. You are sat in a cockpit with 50 degree temperatures, race suit and helmet on. You are pulling over five times gravity, making decisions. It is an absolute oven and it puts the body under unique mental and physical stresses. No other sport can replicate.

“Tennis, especially the men’s game now, has to be one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. Look at Djovokic in the Australian Open. He took 5 hours to beat Murray in the semi-finals then beat Nadal in six hours in the final 48 hours later. That’s 11 hours of competition in two days and yet it’s explosive, stop start. To manage the energy is a huge challenge.

Because of that, I’d say tennis players are fitter.”

You’ve worked over the last 15 years with Mark Webber, Eddie Irvine, David Coulthard, Nico Hulkenberg and even briefly Jenson Button as well as some of the top tennis names. So what’s the sports clothing all about?
“I started producing items for my clients to train in and the feedback was fantastic. Whatever your fitness goal, when you push the body to the limit the clothing that you wear can have a big impact on your performance and recovery.

“Compression wear for example; when you are working aerobically the blood leaves the heart under pressure but returns under low pressure. So if we can increase the ability of the blood to return to the heart we can pick up more oxygen and it will go out as an energy source to regenerate muscle and reduce fatigue. Compression clothing is important to increase performance and recovery.”

HPE Clothing can be seen at Westfield, London and online at

We have one of Nick’s tops to give away as competition prizes. Simply predict what the gap will be in fractions of a second in qualifying between two of Nick’s former clients Jenson Button and Mark Webber in this weekend’s British Grand Prix and in whose favour. The closest to the exact result will win the prize.

Leave your answers in the comments section below.

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Its like you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp a lot about this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something. I think that you could do with a few p.c. to drive the message house a bit, however other than that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.


Button by 0.080 seconds


Great thread. As a former competitive cyclist, I want to respond to the “doping” comments above. Cyclists “dope” not to stop the pain, but to put their bodies into performance levels that are impossible to achieve naturally. Genetically you just can’t HAVE that many red blood cells in your body, because it causes strokes and heart attacks – so lower levels have become “safer” by natural selection. But for cyclists (some of whom do die from the above) it is worth it to win, or so they think – never done it myself as I was an amateur. But cyclist literally have been known to ride until they die of cardiac arrest in competition, which as far as I know no AFLer, fencer, or tennis player has done. My money is on the cyclists, followed closely by cross-country skiers (who cross-train as cyclists often).

Button over Webber, by 0.08. Only because Webber will have KERS or other issues on at least part of the lap…


Webber by .837


Webber by 0.387


Webber ahead of Button by 0.384


I reckon there will be a 0.323 second gap 🙂

Slaven Niksic

webber ahead of button by 0.565


Webber by 0.370


Button is .007


webber by 0.92 seconds


Webber by 0.465


Button by 0.324


Webber ahead by 0.365 sec.


webber by 0,472


webber by 0.511s


Webber by 0.256


Mark will be faster than Jenson. 0.824


I’ll go .582 In Webbers favour


equal times


Button by 0.165s


Webber by 0.666 sec.


Webber by 0.909

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