Optimal fitness, the right nutrition, mental strength – the talent in Formula 3 and the ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup will start to the 2009 season well prepared.
At the Volkswagen fitness camp in Oberjoch in the Bavarian Allgäu region 33 young racers from 14 nations completed a training programme focused on building stamina, coordination and strength under the guidance of sports professionals. In addition to practical exercises, the four-day course featured team-building and theory units to assure that the drivers will be set to tackle the daily preparations for the races.
“The Volkswagen motorsport family is fit for the 2009 circuit racing season,” Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen, who personally participated in the training programme, summed up the activities. “In addition to practical exercises, this fitness course conveyed the theoretical knowledge our young drivers need to personally prepare themselves for the races in an optimum manner. Only a driver who is in perfect physical shape can stay fully concentrated all the way through the last lap. Fitness and mental strength are key success factors in racing. At Volkswagen, this course is an integral component of our successful and professional promotion of young talent, and it was nice being able to train with the whole squad for the first time.”
Practice: stamina, coordination and strength for the work at the wheel
As well as physical fitness a racer has to possess a high level of concentration and good response in the cockpit. In addition to acceleration forces, vibration forces, occasional high temperatures, steering forces, quick gear changes and the swift dance on the pedals have to be mastered. The Volkswagen fitness camp prepared the junior drivers for all these challenges with a specially developed programme.
The young athletes’ stamina was tested in cross-country skiing, snow-shoe hikes and running units, while their coordination under stress was challenged on an indoor exercise course as well at a biathlon, while the combination of power and endurance was the objective of circuit training.
“The fitness camp showed me the areas in which I’m already well sorted due to the regimen of exercises I’ve been doing two or three times a week. But it also showed where I’ve got to do better,” said Polo Cup driver Maximilian Sandritter from Raubling. “In addition, we learned more about the theory behind the training so that in future we can put together our individual programmes.”
Theory: comprehensive knowledge for daily preparation
Oberjoch not only tested the bodies but also the minds of the young Volkswagen talent: two seminars informed the drivers from the Polo Cup, the Formula 3 Euro Series, the ATS Formula 3 Cup and the British Formula 3 Championship about the optimum diet for athletes as well as suitable fitness units for everyday practice. A solid endurance training regimen increases the strength of the cardiovascular system in the race as well as the body’s ability to cope with high temperatures. In addition, it increases the driver’s ability to handle mental stress. The seminar content covered information on the types of sports best suited as endurance training as well as on how to systematically build physical strength in order to reduce the strain on the body in the cockpit that is caused by acceleration rates and vibrations.
“At the fitness camp we had the opportunity to try out sports like cross-country skiing for the first time,” said the Finnish Formula 3 driver Mika Mäki, who will contest the Euro Series “powered by Volkswagen”. ”Snow-shoe hikes are not normally on a racer’s daily agenda either. These activities were really fun but caused me to work up quite a sweat as well. This has been an important and educational station in the course of our preparations for the season.”
Team-building units for the Volkswagen squad
Apart from the physical aspects, the four-day programme focused on the participants’ team skills as well. During a night-time hike with torches up the Oberjoch ski slope followed by dinner at a ski lodge the overarching topic of discussion was driver discipline. “It was great having the chance and the time to swap experiences with Formula 3 drivers,” said the Polish Polo Cup driver Maciek Steinhof, who is now in his second year as a member of the Volkswagen family. “Although we often meet our colleagues from the Euro Series in the paddock, there’s usually no time for conversations.”
Trained in theory and practice, the 33 racers proved their skills in a cross-country skiing relay race at the end of the fitness camp. “Competition is part of our lives, that’s why I really enjoyed the relay at the end,” said the 21-year-old Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay. “It was another opportunity to really push your limits once more. All in all, I now feel well prepared for the season. I can’t wait for it to start.”
The Polo Cup and the Formula 3 Euro Series season will start in Hockenheim from 15 to 17 May, the British Formula 3 Championship at Oulton Park (GB) from 9 to 13 April, and the ATS Formula 3 Cup will start in Oschersleben the same weekend (Easter).