Formula E driver Antonio Felix da Costa, who won Sunday’s NYC E-Prix, said he recently hung out with an NFL player but had to curtail their time spent together so he’d be rested before morning training. The player replied, “Practice for what? You’re sitting down.”
“I told him,” da Costa recounted to SportTechie, “’Look, imagine driving your car all day with no power steering, on bumpy tracks.’”
Driver fitness is an imperative, if publicly overlooked, part of auto racing. At least four Formula E drivers were spotted wearing a Whoop strap during the Friday media availability.
“It’s been great for my own education of my own body—what affects me, what helps me with my sleep, my training, my recovery,” said da Costa. “But also because it’s connected to my trainers. They can’t make it to all my races. So, the day before the race, [they might say], ‘Look, maybe eat this tonight, stop eating that.’ They’ve helped me be in my best possible shape for the race.”
Formula E season leader Stoffel Vandoorne explained that he has phased out a lot of the cycling he used to do in training because he realized it didn’t transfer as well to the demands of driving. He now prioritizes explosive actions in his workouts.
“I monitor quite a lot, to be honest,” Vandoorne said, noting that he especially tracks his sleep in Whoop. He added, “It’s also good to see, when you do certain things, you eat certain things or drink certain things how your body reacts to that. Just one glass of alcohol, I can notice it straightaway on my resting heart rate or whatever so I know what not to do, let’s say, before the race day.”
Jean-Éric Vergne, who is da Costa’s DS Techeetah teammate, declined to discuss his specific use of Whoop but said generally that he is very cognizant of sleep and recovery—to a point.
“That’s the limit of things because sometimes you do have a bad sleep, and if you’re waking up and you see that you have a bad sleep, you start the day on the bad note already,” he said. “It’s not good.”
Formula E is introducing a new Generation 3 car in the upcoming season, and while none of the drivers have had the opportunity to take a test run in it yet, they are already anticipating a few changes.
“Next year in the new Gen 3, we’re going to have a front power train as well, so basically every time we brake, the wheels will independently regenerate energy back to the battery,” da Costa. “This is going to have a lot of recoil effect on the steering wheel. So it’s going to be a lot harder physically next year for us. And I think that’s a good thing: you start taking even more [effort] out of the athletes. I like that it’s hard.”