On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
It can be difficult for people to comprehend the intense physical and mental requirements for Formula One race driving. After all, you’re sitting in the car all day, how hard can it be? Well, it can be pretty damn hard.
Similar to how you might not realise that chess players can burn up to 6,000 calories a day, there is an enormous amount of training that F1 drivers need to go through to maintain the level of concentration and physical toll of taking corners at 150 kilometres per hour on a regular basis.
For Italian-Australian F1 driver, Daniel Ricciardo, he considers it a part of the job to educate the wider public on this. “People can go play basketball for an hour and understand how hard it is and how physical it is. They can go play football or something else,” Ricciardo said in an interview with supplement company Thorne.
“But no one can sit in a Formula 1 car and know what we go through. Trying to educate fans and people, trying to get respect hasn’t always been easy. But it is what it is. I understand why people don’t get it, it’s because they can’t experience it, so it’s hard to comprehend.”
Not only do the drivers have to have great cardio — especially with the races running up to two hours and their heart rates staying high the whole time — they need a strong core, neck, glutes and lower back to withstand the enormous G-forces. All while keeping an eye on their body weight. “It’s a lightweight sport so you really have to maintain around 70 kilos throughout the whole year, which is about 153 pounds,” the F1 driver explained.
Born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, Ricciardo started kart racing at nine years old and participated in numerous race events as a kid. By 16 years old, he was racing in the Western Australian Formula Ford championship where he finished eighth by the end of the season. In 2009, after years of making his way through the Formula motorsport racing leagues, Ricciardo made his Formula One debut as a Red Bull Racing driver.
More recently, the F1 driver won the 2021 Italian Grand Prix as part of the McLaren team. It was the team’s first win since Jenson Button at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and their first 1-2 finish since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix.
What keeps me stable through [all the pressure] is a bit of a balance. I put a lot of energy and effort into racing, and that’s the post-race analysis and the simulator work. And then there’s my training and wellness to stay kind of fit and healthy. I have other hobbies and interests, which I try to do when I get the time, just to switch off a little bit, but otherwise it’s like any job, if you only have that one thing, then it’ll probably drive you crazy after a while.How Ricciardo Mixes Up His Training and Diet To Keep His Head in The Game | Men’s Health
Daniel Ricciardo’s training routine & diet
On a typical training day, the Italian Grand Prix winner wakes up at around 8am and starts visualising what he wants to achieve for the day. “I like to go through in my head what I want to get done for the day and set some little mini targets – like what my training program is,” he told the Herald Sun.
After getting out of bed, he’ll do a quick stretch routine. “It’s like dynamic stretching to loosen my body up and wake it up,” he told GQ. “It’s helped with my flexibility and has made me stronger in certain areas. It kind of starts my day and I’m more productive from that moment on.”
When it comes to his training routine, Ricciardo, like most F1 drivers, gets the bulk of the work done during the off-season since they have to travel so much during race season. During the 2020 quarantine, Ricciardo went into isolation with his longtime friend and trainer, Michael Italiano, on a farm in Western Australia where they worked out with the equipment available.
Ricciardo’s training routine included sledgehammer slams, tire flips, thrusters, sled drags and zercher walks. “These drivers endure quite a lot of G-forces through turning and braking, so it’s really important that their core is very well conditioned and strong to be able to control the car,” Italiano told Men’s Health. “So this is a fantastic exercise to complement this.”
In 2021, after winning the Italian Grand Prix, Ricciardo spoke to GQ and described a typical day in his life during race season.
For breakfast, it would be an omelette or porridge. I’ll try to get some fats in there also, like some avocado. I won’t normally eat big portions, but I’ll try to have those fats and stuff to give me that long-term energy. We’ll have meetings and strategy briefings. Throughout those, I’ll try and sip on hydration drinks and make sure I’m constantly sipping to not get dehydrated during the race. Lunch would be something simple. It’ll be a little bit of rice with some chicken, veggies, mushrooms—something basic and won’t upset my stomach during the race, so no hot sauce or anything like that. An hour before the race, that’s when I get some alone time. I’ll start doing a bit of a warmup, go through some dynamic stretching, get some music going, do some reflex training, some skipping and start to slowly switch on and getting into my energy stores and start burning a little bit to use as my preparation. After the race, we’re kind of thrown around with media, so it’s important to try and get some fuel in me quickly because I’m not able to eat a full meal until about two hours after the race. I’ll get my trainer to prepare a shake and I’ll make sure I eat a proper meal that night.The Real-Life Diet of F1 Driver Daniel Ricciardo, Who Has Developed an Extremely Strong Neck | GQ
With their gruelling schedule and physical toll of F1 racing, Ricciardo makes sure to get as much recovery as possible whenever he has a chance — “the importance of having a day off on Monday helps me a lot. I just try to rest and refuel on Mondays,” he said. He also ensures that he’s getting enough quality sleep, especially when he’s moving from city to city.
“Now I travel with a pillow and an eye mask, and Michael, my trainer, is also trying to get me to sleep with ear plugs, which doesn’t always work because I like falling asleep listening to podcasts, but it’s little things that have certainly helped,” he explained. “And then some Thorne supplements. magnesium glycinate powder, I think that’s quite beneficial, so I’ll take that in the evenings.”
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Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.