Why wellbeing is important for DS Virgin Racing's Sam Bird

Everyone knows that staying fit and healthy will improve their general wellbeing. But for Formula E drivers, it can also be the difference between making it to the podium and not.

When it comes to working out, like everything else in Formula E, it’s about finding the perfect balance. We sat in on one of Sam Bird’s workout sessions to better understand the sacrifices professional racing car drivers have to make to be on top of their game.

Trying to be as slim as possible without losing endurance strength or cardiovascular performance is the challenge the DS Virgin Racing drivers face. “Much like driving the car faster without losing too much energy, our workouts are also about multitasking, learning to find the balance between being strong yet light.”

According to FIA regulations a Season II Formula E car must weigh a minimum of 888 kilos with driver, helmet and overalls included. This minimum weight target is very challenging which is why, like many other drivers in the championship, both DS Virgin Racing drivers keep a close eye on their wellbeing. 

“One of the most important things you must have to become a racing car driver is quick reactions. You have to be lightning fast catching the car and the more athletic and nimble you are, the easier you will find this,” explains Sam Bird. “These cars are electric and very powerful to drive but they don’t have power steering and it’s your responsibility to manage the [close to] 900 kilos beneath you.”

Sam starts his workout with a 10km run on the treadmill. “If I have a week to myself where I’m not racing I will try and work out everyday, in fact sometimes twice a day,” he says, not even breaking a sweat. “I try and mix it up as much as possible so three or four days I’ll do various cardiovascular exercises, sometimes a slow long run, sometimes I’ll go cycling and sometimes I’ll just mix it up and bet myself how fast I can burn 1000 calories on the treadmill. It sounds mad but I get bored so easily.

“A few times a week I will also do strength conditioning,” he continues. “I actually find that working out during race weekends gives me more energy. The only days I tend to not do a morning workout is if we have an early morning photoshoot during the week or on Saturday which is race day because I have to be in the car ready for Free Practice at around 7.30am. Getting up at 5.00am doesn’t sound like such a good idea then.” 

Anyone who has worked in events will know that more often than not it’s a case of eating and sleeping when you can. So how does Sam manage to keep his diet on track during race weekend? Not to mention jet lag and long haul flights… 

“The words diet and race weekend don’t tend to go in the same sentence. I try but then I find myself in a beautiful country like Argentina and I’m like ‘mmmm… steak’,” he laughs. “No seriously, on race weekends I try to be good but we’ve just got back from Paris and it was all bread and cheese, hence why I’m doing this 10km run, which will be followed by a 30km bike ride!” 

What’s on Sam Bird’s menu?

Smoothie in my Nutrininja: Banana, kale, vanilla protein, frozen berries, cheer seeds, water and blueberries.

Chicken breast, broccoli, boiled vegetables and brown rice.

Eating in: Fish and vegetables

Eating out: Fillet steak and peppercorn sauce 

After the session comes to a close Sam heads over to the corner of the gym to stretch. “I feel like I might have impressed with my workout so far but stretching is not my strong point,” he remarks pulling his left arm across his chest. “Despite my other half being a professional yoga instructor my flexibility is shocking, when she laughs at me I just try harder but obviously flexibility is something you have to build up over time. I’m trying to take this on as well because I really believe that my abs, lower back, hamstrings and quads will benefit in the long term. I’ll let you guys know when I can touch my toes!”

Don’t forget the London ePrix weekend will take place on the July 2nd and 3rd where you can see Sam Bird and his French teammate Jean-Eric Vergne in action. Buy tickets from the DS Virgin Racing website.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.

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