F1: Malaysia Grand Prix - drivers risking dehydration to keep weight down in qualifying

 

Sepang International 

Formula One drivers run the risk of exhaustion by dehydrating themselves prior to qualifying in Malaysia on Saturday, in order to minimise their weight and thus maximise the performance of their cars, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button warned on Friday.

They and their 20 colleagues face the most gruelling race of the season, in which they could lose as much as 4kg (9lb) of body weight in high humidity and temperatures in excess of 40C.

Neither of the leading British drivers is heavy. Button weighs in around 71kg (11st 2lb), but before the season began said he thought he needed to lose a kilo. Hamilton, roughly the same weight, admits that in his full driving kit of overalls, fireproof underwear, socks, boots, balaclava, helmet and Hans neck support system, “I’m not 69 kilos, that’s for sure!”

But though the minimum weight of the new breed of cars rose from 642kg to 690kg for 2014, little allowance has been made for the drivers themselves. More weight means less speed in a sport where advantage was yesterday measured as finely as 0.035sec between fastest man Nico Rosberg and closest challenger Kimi Raikkonen and where the top 11 drivers were bracketed by a second. On the 5.543km Sepang International Circuit every extra 10kg can add three- or four-tenths of a second to the lap time.

By Formula One standards a heavier driver is somebody like Nico Hulkenberg, said to weigh 78kg fully dressed, or Adrian Sutil at 80kg. At the other end of the scale Felipe Massa is a flyweight 63kg. The lighter the driver, the better chance a team have of keeping their car to the minimum weight, or even placing ballast where it can help optimise handling.

“At the moment I’m pretty sure it’s hardcore what some people are doing,” Hamilton said of the practice of not keeping up fluid intake hours before the session that decides the grid. “You can go into qualifying a little bit dehydrated. I heard someone was doing that, exhausting themselves. And then the next day they can drink some more because the race is different. For sure, it’s like jockeys.

Nico Rosberg, winner of the Australian Grand Prix, was fastest at the end of practice in Malaysia yesterday (Getty Images) Nico Rosberg, winner of the Australian Grand Prix, was fastest at the end of practice in Malaysia yesterday (Getty Images)
“In some ways it’s cool, another challenge through the winter. But you don’t want to become anorexic. It’s OK, as long as you don’t get to an unsafe area. If someone said I had to get down to Massa’s weight for example, then it would be silly. But at the moment we’re OK, the car is a decent weight, and we’re able to stay reasonably well within the weight limit. But I can’t imagine how it is for the really heavy drivers. There’s a minimum they can get to without cutting an arm off.”

Button, who spent five days doing humidity training at a camp in Phuket, Thailand, run by the former world triathlon champion Chris McCormack, said with evident relief that he no longer has the problem with weight that he thought he would have before the season began.

“I was training with four pro athletes and it has been bloody hard but really good,” he said. “Four hours a day, cycling for three hours, swim for an hour and sometimes a run. Really good, a good atmosphere, proper diet, and the menu gives you all the nutritional information – carbs, fat, protein. It’s a proper training camp and I don’t have a problem with weight at all. I thought I would be tight on it in Melbourne but I was fine so I can really eat now. I can actually eat carbohydrates and I feel better for it.

“But some guys are struggling. Adrian Sutil is, and I’m sure that the heavier drivers are dehydrating themselves because that’s what I was going to do – go in the sauna, have a steam, and not drink or eat until after qualifying. You would have breakfast but no carbohydrates and only stuff that goes right through you quickly. I was going to do it and did it all year until now, but it’s a shame for the guys who have to do it.”

Friday’s two practice sessions were led by the Mercedes of Hamilton and Rosberg. In the second the Australian GP winner was only three and a half hundredths of a second clear of Raikkonen as Sebastian Vettel lurked six hundredths adrift with Hamilton a tenth away. “The car feels good and our focus was on trying to understand the tyres and make sure the balance is right,” Hamilton said.

News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Life and Style
fashionThe Secret Angels all take home huge sums - but who earns the most?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?