Friday, September 26, 2008

Body-clock problems for F1 Drivers

Lewis Hamilton isn't eating breakfast before early afternoon while McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen has blacked out his hotel windows and taken his phone off the hook.
There is more than meets the eye to preparing for Formula One's inaugural night race.
Qualifying on Saturday for the historic event will not take place until 10:00 pm while the race itself on Sunday begins at 8:00 pm, hours later than the mid-afternoon starts the drivers are used to.

None of the top names getting ready for the Singapore Grand Prix has raced an F1 car after dark, or so late, and to be at their peak new regimes have been put in place by team bosses.
Essentially, it boils down to the drivers remaining on European time rather than acclimatising to Singapore's seven-hour time difference.
"Singapore is going to be a unique challenge for every member of the team," said Britain's championship leader Hamilton.

"Our doctor has prepared a very precise schedule for the drivers to stick to because all the sessions are so late in the day. Essentially we must not acclimatise to the local time which is totally different to how we normally operate."

"Our training programmes ensure that over a race weekend we are at peak performance during the afternoons and as a result we are going to be staying in European time so this doesn't get disrupted."

For Hamilton it will mean getting up early in the afternoon for breakfast, having dinner at 1:00 am and going to bed around 3:00 am -- not easy when your body naturally wants to adjust to the local conditions.

"It will be very different preparation to any other race but we'll try and do the best job we can," he added.

Kovalainen is adopting similar tactics. "For example, the hotel rooms will be blacked out so we can sleep late into the day," he said. "Special arrangements will be put in place to make sure the cleaners don't come into the room as they would not expect people to be sleeping until early afternoon. "The telephones will not ring, all those kind of things. We will essentially be isolated from the normal workings of the hotel."

Toyota driver Timo Glock's regime is rather less elaborate. "I won't do anything special -- just go and race. I will set the alarm when I have to get into the car," he said. "That's it. I don't philosophise about what I'm going to do to stay in whatever time zone. I will get up when I have to get up, I will sleep when I have to sleep and I will drive when I have to drive."

Red Bull nightowl David Coulthard can see the benefits of staying on European time and is looking forward to it. "I am staying up late at night, I am going out to nightclubs, and I'm eating a lot of carrots because they apparently help you to see better in the dark," he joked.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said getting into the swing of the different night-time routine was one of the toughest challenges facing every team in Singapore. "Inevitably, ensuring all the team personnel have the opportunity to get enough sleep will be the main challenge over the course of the weekend," he said. "For example, the mechanics won't be going to bed until 4:00-5:00 am, because we finish running late in the evening and there is a programme of work to complete prior to the next day.

"The reality is, it will be hard work for the mechanics, engineers, support crew, marketing operation and we will take measures to support this. But I don't believe it will have a massive impact on the cars and the drivers."

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