It’s easy to assume Formula One drivers are superhuman.
They certainly operate on a superhuman level. When they’re at full throttle at Albert Park this weekend, their bodies will be dealing with seven times their own weight in G-forces on some of the deeper turns.
Because the new, fat wheels and increased downforce has added speed of up to 40km/h to this year’s cars, drivers are claiming their heartrates have risen from around 160 beats per minute to pushing 190. For an hour and a half.
In case you weren’t aware, a normal human’s heart chugs along at a leisurely 60-100bpm.
And it’s hot, and they have to think stupidly fast.
So when Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and AMG Mercedes Petronas chief Toto Wolff got their brief turn on stage in a corporate suite at Albert Park yesterday, it was nice to see them all share a very human moment.
First up was Wolff, who is hard to listen to at first because he sounds exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger and everyone keeps looking at each other and smiling.
But he was asked to share his first-hand experience of the most surprising moment of last year’s Formula One season, when Finn Nico Rosberg won the world championship, then promptly turned around and retired from racing.
“We were on the way back from Kuala Lumpur,” Wolff said. “We shared the plane trip together and felt something was up.
“So we landed in Stuttgart and showered and had breakfast and about one minute after leaving Stuttgart I got a call from Nico. He was clearly upset.”
Wolff said he had to prompt Rosberg to tell him what was wrong and Rosberg simply dropped the bombshell there and then that he was done.
“He just said I’m done,” Wolff said. “I’ve achieved my lifelong goal, I’ve beat the world’s best driver and that’s it.”
Nothing political or controversial. No giant ego wanting to be the best driver the world has ever seen. Just “time to do something else”.
That’s last year’s world champion on the right, enjoying life and chatting to his replacement at McLaren, Valtteri Bottas, who was up next.
He seemed like a nice guy. Almost a kid, clean cut, fit and clearly still a little bit blown away to suddenly find himself a real chance of becoming a world champion.
He was asked, with all the things an F1 driver has to learn, how he handled the new information and got up to speed in a completely new car and new team.
Bottas said he started with what was in front of him – the insanely complicated steering wheel.
So how did he get used to it?
“I took a picture of it and saved it on my laptop screen,” he said. “So it was there every time I opened it.”
So I put this picture of one I held in 2014 on my home screen just to test it out:
Works for me.
Bottas is also an ice hockey fan and like Justin Bieber last week, organised to have a hit with Melbourne’s ice hockey team.
Unlike Bieber, he actually turned up.
Lewis Hamilton also makes the most of his me-time, even on race weekends. He was up next:
He confirmed that in his bedroom in Melbourne, he has a wardrobe. And in his wardrobe, he has a microphone.
Hamilton fancies himself as a bit of a recording artist, apparently.
“There’s a pull-out bed there, so it looks like there’s something really weird going on when there’s this microphone there,” he said.
“But it’s all about finding a good balance to do as much as I can.
“I’m a real believer in not knowing how long you have in life, so I’m just living for the experience.”
Hamilton attributes that attitude to an aunt who died of cancer five years ago.
“She worked her whole life and panned to do all these things and ran out of time, and she held my head and told me ‘Lewis, promise me you’ll make the most of every second you have.'”
She would be proud. There’s not a person on the planet who’s made more of every second than her beloved nephew.
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