Formula 1 looking to monitor driver heart rates

Date published: May 14 2021 - Jamie Woodhouse

Ross Brawn

Formula 1 has plans to start monitoring the heart rates of drivers and key personnel, according to Ross Brawn.

2021 is a year when Formula 1 is keen to experiment. Already it has been confirmed ‘sprint qualifying’ will be trialled on a Saturday at three rounds of the season, while at the Spanish Grand Prix communication between the FIA and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was a new addition to the coverage.

And Brawn, who serves as managing director and technical director for Formula 1, revealed the next initiative being looked at is tracking a driver’s heart rate, stating that from his time on the pit wall he knows this to be “fascinating” information.

“Interestingly, we are looking at monitoring the heart rates of the drivers and some of the key personnel,” he said while appearing on the Muscle Help Foundation’s ‘In Conversation With’ Ross Brawn.

“Because I know from experience that’s a fascinating piece of information. I used to get rigged up and sat on the pit wall doing nothing physical except trying to run the race and would hit 140 pulse rate. And as soon as the race stopped, that would just plummet down to my normal pulse rate in the 60s.

“You could see when the chequered flag had fallen because my pulse rate would just drop dramatically, so it was something I loved and enjoyed immensely.”

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During the opening four rounds of the season, both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will likely have found their hearts racing somewhat after engaging in race-defining battles at every circuit so far.

As a seven-time World Champion, Hamilton’s Formula 1 legacy is secure, but so far he is proving he is not yet ready to step aside for the next generation of Formula 1 stars.

Brawn stated Formula 1 is “blessed with the number of great young drivers we have got coming through”, but to pick who will be the next champion after Hamilton is an easy task.

“Actually a fairly easy question, I think Max Verstappen is the next one on the throne,” Brawn confirmed.

“Having said that, there are some brilliant drivers coming through like Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris.”

Norris has been a stand-out in the early rounds of the 2021 season, already taking a podium finish and even putting himself in contention for pole position at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

For his new McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, it had been a struggle to keep up with Norris until the Spanish GP, and Brawn certainly sees the Briton as his nation’s next racing star once Hamilton retires.

However, Brawn believes George Russell, widely tipped as a future Mercedes driver, is also firmly involved in that conversation.

“On British drivers I think it’s a toss-up between Lando Norris and George Russell,” he said.

“I wouldn’t like to say which of them is going to be the strongest.”

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