Performance in motor sports
- Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre Swan Street, Melbourne 3004, Australia firstname.lastname@example.org
Motor racing is one of the most physically and mentally challenging of all sports, not only for racing drivers themselves, but also for the teams that play an integral role in the eventual performance of the car. It is my belief that, for such a demanding and popular sport, sports medicine is seriously underused. Drivers and teams are faced with continuous pressure to perform, yet have far less involvement with sports medicine staff than many Olympic athletes, tennis professionals, and footballers of all codes, particularly from a preventive perspective. In this article, I will outline some of my experiences as a sport psychologist and fitness consultant with racing car drivers and teams, identifying some of the challenges in a growing field.
Before going into detail, it should be noted that motor sports has depth well beyond Formula One. For example, motor racing is a major sport in the United States with Nascar, Cart World Series, and the Indy Racing League to name but a few. In Europe there is Formula 3, Formula 3000, and rallying. In Asia, there is also a huge number of categories in many countries—for example, in Australia alone there is the Shell Touring Car series, Formula Holden, Formula Ford, GTP, and Nations Cup series, and, in other parts of Asia, the Asia Pacific Rally Series and the Japanese sports car series coexist.
In almost all of the categories identified above, particularly Formula One, motor racing drivers must execute numerous motor and cognitive skills simultaneously. They must remain calm and focused on their vehicle's performance, the track, and their competitors only centimetres away, while travelling at speeds of 150–300 km per hour. They must also manoeuvre gears and foot pedals while steering their vehicle, using highly developed coordination. Each movement must be rapid and precise. During this …