Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz has been spending the winter break training harder than ever in order to prepare himself for the extreme demands of 2017's new cars.
Although it is typical of drivers to follow their own training programmes during the off-season before returning to the track, the regulation changes that are coming this season will bring developments not only to the cars, but also to the physical effects on those in control. They are anticipating faster cornering speeds and skyrocketing G-forces, and so fitness has become even more of a focus.
Sainz is working with a personal trainer on a daily regime, in which he is concentrating on toughening his neck and shoulders, and building both his muscle mass and his overall physical endurance.
To ensure that his efforts are as effective as possible, the Spaniard is exercising whilst simulating the length of an actual race.
"Instead of the usual 50 minutes, we now do between 90 and 120 minutes, the same as a Grand Prix. Thus, I work out for longer times at around 180 to 190 beats per minute. I also include boxing and cardio work in those sessions, which all in all means I work my physical endurance way more by doing stuff all the time," Sainz explained.
"We work out the neck in two ways. Firstly, we pull and hold weights with it in the gym, which is very similar to what we will do on the track - resisting G-forces, that is - and secondly we are doing specific go-karting, which I do two or three times a week."
When in his kart, Sainz strengthens his neck muscles through the use of a helmet carrying ballast. He says the weight increase and its stress on his neck can be compared to the G-forces he will experience in his new Toro Rosso, expected to be several seconds a lap quicker than in 2016.
Ultimately, he recognises that no amount of neck work is too much when preparing for what could physically be the toughest year of his career.
"That is just one of a complete set of exercises I'm doing to work my neck fitness to the full."
Mi tipo de "siesta" este invierno... ? // my kind of "siesta" this winter... ?? pic.twitter.com/OEeq7xQvKS— Carlos Sainz (@carlosainz) February 9, 2017