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Team bosses dispute Hamilton's fitness comments

NEWS STORY
08/06/2019

Speaking on Thursday, not for the first time, Lewis Hamilton claimed that contemporary F1 cars are too easy too drive. As well as citing the age of some of the drivers on the current grid, the five time world champion said that on some race weekends, there was so little physical demand from the cars that he felt he could drive two or three races.

"You should be so physically exhausted after the race, to the point... like a marathon," he said. "Sometimes you do these races and you can get up and... I could do a race... I could probably do two or three races in a row and Formula One should not be like that.

"Also it's a man's sport, you know, and a lot of youngsters come in and it's quite easy for them to get straight into it," he added, "but I do think it should be the most physically challenging and probably why a lot of us drivers are able to go on for a long period in time is because we can handle it."

Toro Rosso boss, Franz Tost, vehemently disagrees.

"In my opinion, the current level of the drivers from the fitness side is the highest I've ever seen in Formula One," said the Austrian. "You must not forget that we now have drivers who started motor sport when they were six or seven years old. That means that when they come to Formula One, they've already done 10 to 15 years of karting first and then the junior categories and I'm not talking about the Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers.

"Our drivers have special physical training plans," he continued. "They have their own coach, they have a nutrition plan. That means they are so well prepared that the driving itself is no longer so exciting for them and of course, you cannot compare this time with - let me say - twenty or thirty years ago when Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell or whoever collapsed after a race.

"They never saw a fitness centre from the inside and some of them were smoking as well and in former days, I remember that some cars did not finish the race and then they talked about gearbox problems... Hey, they were smoking beforehand and they were not fit enough to finish the race and then they put it in any gear so that the car stopped. They were not fit enough.

"This is the reality and nowadays we have really really good drivers in Formula One and we have a very high level and therefore you don't see accidents - which on one side is very good - from the entertaining point of view is boring. Friends of mine say you don't even see a crash after the start in the first corner because they all manage to do it. It's because the driving level is very very high, I think the highest we've ever seen in Formula One and this we continue.

"But this is nothing to do only with Formula One; this is in all the other sports as well, in skiing and so on, therefore I think we should be happy to see these drivers."

"You can look at the lap times," said Toto Wolff. "I think we have the quickest cars by now. We have changed the aerodynamic formula to take a few seconds off the cars and we are going faster than last year, so the levels of downforce are enormous and like Franz said, it's very right that the level of perfection has just increased enormously and you don't see these kind of mistakes any more.

"You could, artificially, make it much harder," he added, "take the power-assisted steering out, then you will have drivers like bodybuilders and they will struggle to finish races because it will be so tiring - that is easy - but it would be a step back in technology but maybe that is something we should consider in the future for the entertainment factor."

"Or we could ban the drivers from going to the fitness studios, so they will be tired at the end of the race," joked Guenther Steiner. "It would be a lot cheaper."

"Oblige them to smoke," suggested Wolff with a grin, a comment omitted from the subsequent transcript.

"And to eat fast foods all the time!" said Steiner. "No, without joking, I think Franz explained it very well: the fitness level is just so high and the cars are so sophisticated so it's just getting better and it's evolution. It isn't that they are easy to drive, we are just so well prepared - they are so well prepared altogether. That is why they now complain about it."

Interestingly, in 1981, two years after winning the title with Ferrari, Jody Scheckter - with the aid of some engine oil smeared on his trainers for the squats - won the fifth edition of World Superstars, a competition that pitted elite athletes from various sports against one another in a series of events resembling a decathlon.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Montreal, here.

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1. Posted by Malemoi, 08/06/2019 11:23

"Surely Lewis would know"

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