Why do F1 drivers take ice baths? 'Chilling' reason explained
F1 as a sport boasts of having some of the fastest racecars in the world to be able to go around a track. Open-wheeled beasts that are designed with a singular focus on speed and cornering ability rather than anything else, also come with their byproducts, such as immense G-forces exerted on the driver. On average, an F1 car is faster than a road-going sports car around a track by upwards of 45 seconds to a minute in case of some longer tracks, to put things into perspective.
With such immense performance comes not only immense responsibility and talent behind the wheel, but a physically adept driver who can endure upwards of 5Gs for hours on end. A typical Grand Prix lasts anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours long, and drivers lose nearly 4-5 kilograms of their body weight due to the intense G force and temperatures in the cars. Surrounded by control electronics throughout the cockpit, along with a 1000BHP hybrid engine bolted onto the back, an F1 car is toasty, to say the least.
Drivers in these cases have evolved their pre-race rituals to better prepare for a race weekend, with ice baths as a way to cool off before jumping into the car. Ice baths have also been known to provide better muscle recovery after intense training sessions and stimulate the nervous system, resulting in better reflexes on the track.
Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc also spoke about the pre-race ice bath ritual and how it helps drivers stay cool in the car, and said:
“I have quite a lot of things that I do, especially this year I’ve introduced cold bath. I’ve got a cold bath at the track, especially for hot races. So once we get into the car, it’s extremely warm. You sweat a lot, but if you do the cold bath before, it helps you to feel much better inside the car.”
How else do F1 drivers prepare before races?
Another way to fight the heat during hot races of the season has come in the form of cool vests, often seen worn by drivers at events such as the Singapore Grand Prix. Along with measures to beat the heat, F1 pilots can also indulge in neuromuscular exercises as well as staying hydrated before jumping into the car. This aids in concentration inside the cockpit and also boosts reaction times.
The F1 circus is next slated to go live from the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 13th, 2022, for the Brazillian Grand Prix.