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 limit their time together so he was rested before morning practice. The player replied, “Practice for what? You sit down.”
“I told him,” da Costa told SportTechie, “Look, imagine driving your car all day without power steering on bumpy roads.”
Driver fitness is an essential, albeit publicly overlooked, part of auto racing. At least four Formula E drivers were spotted wearing a whoop harness during Friday’s media availability.
“It’s been great for my own training of my own body — which affects me, which helps me sleep, my training and my recovery,” da Costa said. “But also because it is linked to my coaches. You don’t make it to all my races. So, the day before the race, [they might say], ‘Look, maybe eat that tonight, stop eating that.’ They helped me to be at my best for the race.”
Formula E season director Stoffel Vandoorne explained that he stopped much of the cycling he used to do in practice because he realized it didn’t translate as well to the demands of driving. He now prioritizes explosive actions in his workouts.
“I monitor quite a bit, to be honest,” Vandoorne said, noting that he particularly tracks his sleep in Whoop. He added: “It’s also good to see how your body reacts to you doing certain things, eating certain things or drinking certain things. Just one glass of alcohol, I know it straight away from my resting heart rate or whatever so I know what not to do, say, before race day.”
Jean-Éric Vergne, da Costa’s DS Techeetah teammate, declined to talk about his specific use of whoop, but generally said he was very conscious of sleep and recovery – up to a point.
“That’s the limit of things, because sometimes you sleep badly, and when you wake up and see you’re sleeping badly, you’re already starting the day badly,” he said. “It is not good.”
Formula E is introducing a new Generation 3 car next season and while none of the drivers have had a chance to test drive it yet, they are already anticipating some changes.
“Next year in the new Gen 3 we will also have a front drive train, so basically every time we brake the wheels will independently regenerate energy back into the battery,” da Costa. “That will have a big recoil effect on the steering wheel. So it will be much more difficult for us physically next year. And I think that’s a good thing: you start taking even more [effort] from the athletes. I like that it’s heavy.”