Williams at Acronis

Singapore – a true test of human engineering

As part of helping to celebrate 15 years since the founding of Acronis in Singapore, Williams drivers Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll were on hand to make the occasion an enjoyable one.

Their task, in front of an intrigued audience of employees and guests, was a race against one another to fill a travel suitcase full of competition goodies.

Of course, these highly-tuned athletes near the peak of physical fitness hardly broke a sweat in completing this light-hearted task. But things will be very different when racing resumes in earnest around the gruelling Marina Bay Circuit – arguably the toughest test of human endurance on the F1 calendar.

Lance stroll and Sergey - suitcase packing race.
Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin of Williams Racing – suitcase packing race.

Nowhere in motorsport is the human body put through its paces in more extreme conditions than over 61 laps of the Marina Bay street circuit.

Having already had to adapt to racing on European time but at night, in 30-degree heat and with 70% tropical humidity, drivers can expect to lose as much as three kilos of fluid, which represents 5% of body weight during the race. It is the most gruelling on the calendar.

Mental performance is vital during a race like Singapore. Not only must drivers negotiate 23 corners each lap with inch-perfect precision, they must also change gear 71 times for 61 laps. Moreover, they are racing other cars, in constant radio contact with pit crews, making miniscule adjustments to their brake balance, engine and clutch settings – and all at speeds above 180mph. For Acronis, processing huge amounts of data comes naturally. For the human brain, it is a massive undertaking.

As such, some teams and drivers employ sports psychologists to help with concentration, lap visualisation, distraction and breathing regulation.

Diet is also extremely important for keeping drivers at optimum weight; the lighter the better. As a result, a lot of chicken and oily fish will be consumed between races to aid weight loss. On race weekends, the onus is on carbohydrates such as brown rice and pasta which are great sources of slow-release energy and aid endurance in long races, such as Singapore.

Protein is also important, especially as it acts as a recovery source for muscle. And because drivers will sweat out so much fluid, they take on large quantities of water and drinks containing electrolytes and salts before, during and after the race.

So, when you’re watching Sergey and Lance pounding out lap after lap of the Marina Bay Circuit from the comfort of your armchair at home, just imagine the physical stresses these drivers are putting themselves through in their pursuit of excellence. A little bit more demanding than stuffing a suitcase full of items. We can all do that!

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.