I’ve been training on Ninja-warrior-like climbing apparatus this year
As motorsport has become ever more competitive with testing restrictions and regulations limit what is possible with the car, focus has switched to engineering the drivers. Aspiring drivers on the path to F1 have to take as much care off-track as on.
One such driver is 18-year-old Callum Ilott. A part of the Superstar programme in the British Racing Drivers’ Club and a driver competing for the FIA F3 Championship, the talented teenager is one to watch out for in the future. After five wins this season, Ilott offers insight into the preparation and technology required by drivers at the top of their game.
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Callum works with nutritionist Helene Patounas to ensure he gets the right fuel on board. “My aim is to identify any biochemical and physiological imbalances through in-depth functional nutritional testing and then support him through a personalised diet, lifestyle and supplement programme. We then agree and focus on his biggest wins that will have the greatest impact on his racing performance,” says Helene. With Callum travelling so much (49 flights so far this season), Helene works hard to minimise the disruption this can have on his performance. “Irregular eating and poor food choices when ‘on the go’ negatively impacts our blood sugar balance resulting in energy dips, cravings, low mood and leads to poor concentration. I work with Callum to shape habits, plan and find solutions to external factors that positively impact his sleep and performance. For example, he always makes sure he hydrates well every morning and he travels with a range of healthy food snacks.”
As an elite, competitive racing driver, Callum is exposed to frequent travel and changes in time zones, which impacts sleep patterns and circadian rhythm (body clock). Over time, disruption to daily routines can lead to a range of imbalances intricately linked to sleep. Poor sleep is a hazard to racing drivers – not only does it impair their concentration and reaction times, it also can impact their weight due to changes in grehlin and leptin, hormones that increase our hunger levels and calorie consumption. Diet can affect sleep and Callum avoids high fat and high sugar foods in the hours before sleeping and caffeine is an obvious no-no. Tech such as phones get turned off so there are no distractions. Having a regular bed time and taking a nap in the afternoon have been demonstrated across many sports to improve performance.
He always makes sure he hydrates well every morning and he travels with a range of healthy food snacks.
CHILL TIME. With schedules full-on at racetracks with meetings, engineering debriefs, media interviews and time in the car, finding some quiet time to chill is important. For Callum, spending time on social channels via his phone helps to take five. “Being away a lot through the year means social media is important for keeping in touch with mates and family,” says Ilott. “It’s also important to keep sponsors and followers up to speed with how the racing is going.”
COMFORT. Racing drivers need a lot of custom kit, such as Callum’s Alpinestars race boots. They are made from lightweight kangaroo leather with a heat resistant Nomex lining. To provide better feel, the heel and insole of the boots are equipped with micro porous padding. “If you have good feel, you know the limits of the car. You can make it go slow, faster and you can manipulate the balance better to improve lap times and reduce tyre wear,” says Callum.
“An F3 car does generate quite bit of downforce but it’s not as physical as the F2 car I drove at the British GP,” says Ilott. “That car has got more power; over 600bhp and no power steering. So, driving that car you need good overall aerobic fitness along with neck, leg and arm strength to get the best out of it. I’ve been training on a Ninja-warrior-like climbing apparatus this year to build upper body strength and I had no issues over the whole GP weekend. The training is obviously working.”
Have your say in the comment bar below. What are your thoughts on Callum’s training regime?