Concern mounts over drivers’ extreme diets
Jean-Eric Vergne is hospitalised and Adrian Sutil races without drinks bottle in attempts to meet weight limits
The difculty in engineering the new generation of cars to hit the minimum weight limit has forced many drivers to shed kilos to remain competitive. But how much is too much?
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne revealed he was hospitalised between the Australian and Malaysian GPs, saying: “The weight difference between me and my team-mate was making me lose four tenths [per lap]. I dieted this winter, but you get to certain limits that the body can no longer take. I got down to 67kg, which was a bit too low, and I lost energy.”
Adrian Sutil, already one of the heavier drivers in the eld at a quoted 75kg, and racing a Sauber that is thought to be around 20kg overweight, said at the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend that he was racing without a drinks bottle in his car when possible. Drivers can lose up to 4kg of uid in sweat during a hot race and rely on the contents of the bottle, usually a carbohydratebased drink, both to rehydrate and to maintain energy levels.
“It’s like you go for a run for an hour-and-a-half and you don’t eat enough before,” said Sutil, “then you have a sugar hole where you are almost getting into an area where you don’t work well.”
One senior team gure told F1 Racing: “We had a situation last year where one of our drivers came close to what any doctor would tell you was an unhealthily low BMI [Body Mass Index], and this year we have a driver who is approaching that area – and he has not been on anything like as extreme a diet as some.”
The minimum car weight, previously 642kg, was revised to 691kg for 2014 to account for the heavier hybrid power units. As the challenges of meeting that target became clear, teams agreed to raise it to 701kg – but not until 2015.
FIA president Jean Todt has played down health concerns. “I don’t think you go to hospital because you are on a diet,” he said.
At 1.84m, Adrian Sutil is one of F1’s taller drivers, making it harder for him to lose weight to meet restrictions