What Do F1 Drivers Eat Before A Race?

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Formula 1 is an incredibly demanding sport. While many people might believe that it’s not difficult to drive a car, there is no doubt that Formula 1 drivers need to be incredibly fit in order to win. You may therefore wonder what F1 drivers eat before a race.

Before a race, F1 drivers eat meals that will give them energy throughout the race but won’t make them feel full and bloated. They often eat light breakfasts with a good mix of macros before having a light lunch with slow-releasing carbohydrates and light protein for better endurance.

Much like marathon runners, Formula 1 drivers need to fuel their bodies with the right foods if they want to perform to the best of their abilities in a race. Below, we go into more detail about the kinds of things Formula 1 drivers eat before a Grand Prix.

Why Modern Formula 1 Drivers Are Fitter Than Ever Before

Modern-day Formula 1 drivers are considered to be the fittest generation of drivers in the history of the sport. With a massive focus on proper fitness and nutrition, these drivers stick to some immense training regimes and strict diets.

Fitness Focus

The importance of fitness and nutrition is taught to drivers from a young age. From the moment they get serious about karting they need to work on their fitness and keep an eye on what they eat. Because they are taught about how crucial fitness and nutrition are from a young age, it becomes second nature to them. 

Even at karting level when a driver joins a team, they will be trained in fitness and what they need to eat before a race. Drivers also build fitness the more they drive, whether it’s in karting or Formula 1. Modern Formula 1 drivers are the most experienced in history, starting their karting careers at around the age of four and moving into single-seaters at around 15.

What Do F1 Drivers Eat For Breakfast?

F1 drivers typically eat high-protein breakfasts that are fairly light so that they don’t feel bloated before the race. This might consist of things like eggs or protein-rich cereals. They might also eat some slow releasing carbohydrates like bread, and healthy fats like avocado.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a Formula 1 driver. What they eat on the morning of a race will set the scene for how much energy they have throughout the day and how their bodies perform throughout the course of a Grand Prix. Drivers want to ensure that they maximize their performance on race day.

Formula 1 drivers need to ensure that they get all of their macronutrients with any meal before their race, especially when it comes to breakfast. The driver needs to have a good balance of macros in their breakfast, and they also need to eat a light meal so that they don’t feel too heavy and bloated for the upcoming race.

The Importance Of Breakfast On Race Day

Breakfast is incredibly important on race day because it’s the last day of the race weekend. Drivers take part in several different energy sapping activities throughout the weekend. Aside from driving the car to the best of their abilities in three Free Practice sessions and qualifying, drivers have even more responsibilities.

Their weekend normally starts on a Thursday when they need to do track walks with their team, sit through team meetings, and participate in PR or sponsorship events. Drivers often spend the entire day at the track, sometimes even late into the evening depending on how long the team meetings go on for.

While these might not sound as intense as driving a Formula 1 car, they do drain the drivers’ physical and mental energy. With the main event being on Sunday, drivers need their bodies to be primed and ready to perform at their best even after these energy draining days.

Protein

One of the main macros that drivers will need to incorporate into their meals before races is protein. Protein is essential for any athlete as the body uses this macro to build and maintain muscle and other structures such as cell membranes, hair, skin, nails, and much more.

Protein becomes the building blocks for an athlete’s body as it helps them recover any muscle fibers that have been damaged. In other words, it helps the drivers to feel less sore and stiff from the previous day. Protein is an important part of the driver’s breakfast, but it has to be carefully balanced.

Drivers can’t take in too much protein, and they need to get their protein from very specific sources. Red meat might be the best source of protein, but it’s too heavy and filling for race day. Drivers often eat eggs, protein cereals, or plant-based protein sources such as lentils for breakfast on race day.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, also known as carbs, might be something that you would expect Formula 1 drivers to avoid since they are trying to stay in shape and keep their body weight under control. However, carbohydrates are incredibly important for Formula 1 drivers and any other athletes – as long as it comes from the right source.

The body uses carbs as its primary fuel source, making this a very important macronutrient. Taking in enough carbs during breakfast will ensure that the driver has enough energy to compete during the Grand Prix and participate in the various media activities after the race is over.

Different Types Of Carbs

There are two types of carbs that drivers need to consume. The first is fast releasing carbs. These carbs will release more energy over a shorter span of time, but the energy is used up much faster. The second is slow releasing carbs, whose energy is released more slowly over a longer period of time, allowing the body to be fueled for more time throughout the day.

F1 drivers need to incorporate slow releasing carbs in their breakfast. The Grand Prix starts in the afternoon (unless it’s a night race), which means that the carbs that drivers take in for breakfast will need to last them several hours if they don’t have another meal before lights out. For breakfast options these include bread, fruits, oats, porridge, other wholegrain cereals.

Fats

Fats are responsible for storing the energy that the body takes in, and so they are also incredibly important for the body. Drivers will usually include healthy fats in their breakfasts, and this can come in the form of avocados, olive oils, dark chocolate and nuts. These are essential for drivers, but again it’s important for Formula 1 drivers not to overdo it when it comes to breakfasts.

KEY POINTS

• An F1 driver’s breakfast will typically contain a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats

• Foods like eggs, bread and avocados are good sources of these

• What an F1 driver eats for breakfast is important for setting them up properly for race day

What Do Formula 1 Drivers Eat Before Races?

F1 drivers will typically eat light meals before races, consisting of healthy proteins and fats, along with a mix of fast and slow releasing carbohydrates. Things like eggs, cheese, nuts and avocados are common, as are things like rice, couscous and pasta. 

While breakfast is an important meal for the driver’s day, another crucial one is the meal just before the race starts. Since race starts are often in the mid to late afternoon, drivers will often have another meal in between their breakfast and the start of the Grand Prix. However, this meal needs to be carefully balanced to maximize the driver’s performance in the race.

Their nutritionists and team chefs will develop the perfect meal plan for them to ensure that they have as much energy as possible for the race ahead without feeling too bloated and full.

Light Meals 

Formula 1 drivers will eat light meals before the race. These meals would look similar to the type of meal you would eat before going to the gym for a heavy workout. Drivers need some protein for muscle recovery. However, red meats are often too heavy for drivers before a race, so the protein source will often come from lighter sources such as chicken or fish. 

Drivers will often also consume nuts or other plant-based sources of protein. Drivers will also be getting their fats in before the race, but these are often limited just before a race. While fish can be a source of fat, drivers can also opt for avocados, cheese, nuts or eggs

Slow Energy Release

Just like breakfast, one of the prime sources of energy that drivers will rely on is carbohydrates. Drivers may opt for a slow energy release, but oftentimes a fast energy releasing carb can be a good choice just before the start of a race. Bearing in mind that the driver’s energy levels need to last for the duration of the Grand Prix, a combination of fast and slow releasing carbs is key.

The best sources of carbs for Formula 1 drivers to take in just before the start of a race are basmati rice, couscous, pasta, quinoa, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, lentils, and some fruit such as bananas. Fast release carbs on the other hand include pastas, white rice, and potatoes.

Foods F1 Drivers Avoid Before Races

F1 drivers will avoid foods that make them feel full and bloated before a race. In addition, overeating can also have a negative effect on the drivers, even if they are eating the right foods. Nutritionists and chefs will carefully track the quantity of food the driver eats as well as what they eat.

Drivers will also avoid eating anything that their body is not used to before the race, and even during the race weekend. Food poisoning and allergies are real risks, and both can affect the driver’s performance. As we saw with Mark Webber during the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, food poisoning can strike at the wrong time, even when racing. 

Can F1 Drivers Eat During A Race?

F1 drivers can’t eat during a race. While they have a drinks bottle connected to their helmet, allowing for easy access to water, there is no similar device for food. When driving at 200+ mph, there is no way to safely take your helmet off and eat something. They can’t eat in the pits either.

Drivers will need to eat before the race in order to get their energy levels up, but they also need to make sure to eat a couple of hours before the start of the race. If a driver eats too late before the start of the race their body won’t have enough time to digest and it will affect their performance in the car.

Formula 1 races are intense and require the drivers to be fully focused at all times. Drivers can, however, drink throughout the race as long as their drinks bottle is working. There have been times when a driver’s drinks bottle has failed, like Lewis Hamilton in France in 2022, and Kimi Raikkonen in multiple races, such as in Turkey in 2021 and Hungary in 2018.

KEY FACT: While F1 drivers can’t eat during a race, NASCAR drivers can eat during races. They’ll often keep quick snacks inside the cars, or have them handed to them during pit stops.

What Do Formula 1 Drivers Eat After A Race?

After the race is over, F1 drivers need to replenish all of the energy that they expended throughout the race. Drivers will often have a big meal and fill up on proteins and carbs after the race to ensure that their muscles can recover and that they will have enough energy the following day.

Drivers may also have a small dessert after their meal to replenish some extra fats and carbs. However, drivers often can’t have too much after a race if they have a race coming up the next weekend. Drivers are still under strict diet controls and will continue to monitor their diet carefully and train as much as possible.

Why Hydration Is Crucial For Drivers

Whenever Formula 1 drivers are walking around a paddock, garage, or on the grid, you’ll notice that a drinks bottle is never too far out of reach. Drivers take their hydration incredibly seriously, especially when it comes to the more physically demanding and hotter races where they will be sweating a lot more.

Even on an average day, the cockpit of a Formula 1 car becomes incredibly hot. The cockpit of the car can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) because of the fact that the engine is in such close proximity to the cockpit. On top of that, drivers have to wear their fireproof overall which seals in all of the heat and humidity.

Physical Effort Combined With Heat

While Formula 1 drivers are racing, they need to withstand these extreme temperatures while they are in their race suits with their helmets on. During the course of a Grand Prix, drivers can lose more than 3 kg of sweat.

If drivers are not properly hydrated during a race they will struggle to perform and there is a chance that they could become ill while driving, especially when they race in hotter climates such as Singapore and the Middle East. Drivers will often spend the entire week before the race fueling their bodies with enough water to prevent this from happening.

Can F1 Drivers Drink During A Race?

Luckily though, drivers can still drink while they are in the car. Each car has a drinks bottle built into the car with an electronically operated pump that pushes the fluid through a straw and into the driver’s mouth at the push of a button. 

Drivers don’t drink water while they are in the car though. The drink is usually a mixture of glucose, minerals, and electrolytes. There’s also no way to keep the drinks bottle cool, and after the first couple of laps the liquid will be warm as a result of being so close to the engine. 

Nevertheless, this liquid mixture is incredibly important for the drivers as it gives them much needed energy and hydration throughout the race. The body uses these minerals and nutrients in the drink to maintain the driver’s mental and physical capabilities.

Final Thoughts

Before a race, F1 drivers will often eat a light meal with slow energy releasing carbs to ensure that they have the energy to compete throughout the entire race. F1 drivers typically eat things like eggs, avocado, pasta and rice before a race. Drivers also need to make sure that they are hydrated.