Charles Leclerc’s performance coach Andrea Ferrari says jetlag is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome with a driver, and is does not get much more severe than the Australian GP.
Formula 1 is back in action with Round 3 of the F1 2023 season, as Melbourne’s Albert Park plays host to the Australian Grand Prix.
And for the teams, drivers and personnel, that means a mammoth trip from their European bases to the other side of the world for this one.
That then means that jetlag is a very real problem to contend with, in fact one of the “trickiest problems” that there is according to Leclerc’s performance coach Andrea Ferrari, as the drivers need to be in peak condition for the race weekend to perform to their highest level.
“Managing jetlag is one of the trickiest problems for a driver,” said Ferrari. “The Formula 1 calendar takes in four continents and so there are a lot of time changes to deal with.
“A lack of sleep, which means getting less than five hours, as well as the quality and amount of sleep can have a significant effect on an athlete’s performance. It can influence learning, memory, pain perception, inflammation of certain parts of the body and the immune system.
“The Australian time difference is one of the hardest to deal with, Melbourne being ten hours ahead of Italy. The most important thing is to look at the flight timings and then decide when it is best for the driver to sleep on the flight and when to stay awake to minimise the jetlag after landing.”
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Nutrition is also planned around the flight timings, and with sleep a key part of this complicated equation for keeping a driver in top shape, it means meals that are rather limited on portion size and flavour.
“When it comes to nutrition and hydration everything is planned around the flight,” Ferrari added.
“We carefully study when are the best times to eat during the flight, which often do not align with when the airlines offer meals on-board and of course we also pay great attention to what type of food is best. Meals can also impact sleep, therefore light and only slightly seasoned meals are best.”
These efforts certainly paid off for Leclerc in Melbourne last year as he took the chequered flag to win the 2022 Australian Grand Prix, though the challenge of making it back-to-back wins is one that will prove extremely difficult to conquer.
That is because Red Bull have made a dominant start to the campaign, taking two poles, wins and one-two finishes, while Ferrari are facing a tough task just to get the better of Aston Martin and Mercedes in pursuit of that ‘best of the rest’ tag.