Have you ever wondered what and F1 Driver Schedule is between race weekends? How does a triple header period where races run for three consecutive weeks affect a driver! Do drivers appear out of the blue at the track for the Friday practice sessions and then mysteriously disappear by private jet after the race?
The life of an F1 driver is not just about the adrenaline-pumping race on Sundays. It’s a week-long commitment of preparation, strategy discussions, media obligations, and physical and mental conditioning. They remain intimately connected with the team’s management, engineering personnel and marketing staff.
Let’s delve into a typical schedule of an F1 driver during the week between the American GP, which concluded on 22nd October 2023, and the upcoming Brazilian GP scheduled for the weekend of 3rd-5th November 2023.
F1 Driver Schedule – Sunday, 22nd October 2023: Post American GP
When the race finishes the F1 teams kick into gear. The mechanics break the cars down into their travelling configurations and load them into dedicated containers.
The team also meticulously dismantle the pit lane and workshop and pack it into the custom container.
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F1 Driver schedule – After the Podium Events
When the podium ceremony finishes the top three drivers (and the other 17 who did not make the podium) participate in a series of meetings and media obligations.
Immediately after the race, drivers attend a debrief with their engineers and team principals. They discuss the race’s events, car performance, and any potential improvements.
Drivers and mechanics address any issues while they are still fresh in the driver’s and engineers’ minds. Some teams hold this meeting over to the Monday!
Post-race interviews with various media outlets, including television, radio, and print journalists.
Media interviews are great for fans but coming at the end of racing for a grueling 308.405km (191.63 miles) this is the least pleasant of the drivers’ duties.
The drivers are generally exhausted and possibly disappointed. Despite this they must remain upbeat and positive to the journalists and interviewers.
Cool Down & Recovery
Finally, after all of the media appointments the drivers can spend some “me time.” – they’ve eared it!
After the intense race, drivers undergo a cool-down session, which may include stretching, hydration, and a light massage.
F1 Driver schedule – Monday, 23rd October 2023: Transition Day
The tams pack the containers onto the teams’ trucks and deliver them to the freight section of the local airport (John Glenn International Airport).
F1 Driver schedule – The Monday after The Race
Many teams hold the post race briefing on the Monday morning. The drivers will travel to Mexico after they fulfil their obligations.
Travel to Mexico
The teams and drivers will travel to Mexico City, the venue for the Mexican GP by aircraft. The wealthier teams will Transport their top personnel (including the drivers) in hired private jet aircraft.
Although this seems like they live the high life, the reality is that they need as much recovery time as possible.
Rest & Recovery
Drivers often use this day to recover from the previous race’s physical toll and adjust to the new time zone.
F1 Driver schedule – Tuesday, 24th October 2023: Preparation Day
The teams air-ship race-critical gear from one race to the next using cargo planes, with teams splitting space on a chartered flight. The F1 cars, consist of more than 5,000 unique parts.
The teams carefully load them onto special pallets with room for two cars, one above the other.
Once the cars reach the track in Mexico the engineers reverse their work and reassemble the cars.
F1 Driver schedule – The Tuesday after The Race
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F1 drivers are amongst the fittest athletes in the planet. This level must be maintained, and so regular training sessions are required. In the Monday and Tuesday, a light training session will be carried out to keep the body in optimal condition.
The team’s media departments will generally have the Tuesday and Wednesday to arrange media appointments and promotional activities.
Some drivers might have scheduled interviews or promotional events with sponsors.
F1 Driver schedule – Wednesday, 25th October 2023: Off Day
Part of Tuesday and Wednesday will be left free for the drivers to have some time to themselves. Thye may use this time for personal activities, relaxation, or exploring the city.
Making sure their head is in the right place is critical for F1 drivers. They may use this time for meditation, visualization exercises, or working with a sports psychologist to prepare mentally for the weekend.
F1 Driver schedule – Thursday, 26th October 2023: Media Day
Drivers, along with their engineers, walk the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit to familiarize themselves with the track and discuss potential strategies.
They will generally walk with their mechanics to check out the circuit and spot any alterations made since the last race at that location.
This activity has become contentious with the FIA banning drivers from using scooters to inspect the track.
After this was announced Charles Leclerc announced that he would not participate in the track walk again. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were also rarely seen walking the track.
The official FIA press conference takes place, where selected drivers answer questions from the media.
This includes strategy meetings with engineers and team members to discuss the weekend’s approach.
This will include autograph sessions, meet-and-greets, or other fan-centric activities.
Grand Prix Drivers Association Meeting (GPDA)
The GPDA is a meeting reserved solely for the 20 drivers on the grid. Cameras aren’t permitted.
This is an opportunity for drivers, who might be rivals on the track, to collaborate on addressing shared issues.
The discussions revolve around mutual topics and concerns, and it’s not a place for personal beefs or disputes.
Drivers are reminded that while it’s absolutely their job to compete fiercely (and fairly) on the track, they should also set an example for the world by showing respect for one another and valuing the unique opportunity they all have.
F1 Driver schedule – Friday, 27th October 2023: Practice Day
Free Practice 1 & 2 (FP1 & FP2)
On a traditional weekend (with no sprint races), the drivers get to drive in the Free practice 1 (FP1) and free practice 2 (FP2) sessions.
First, teams try out their configurations during Free Practice sessions. While they do use simulators, it’s not as precise as the actual car.
They’re also getting a feel for their cars, refining their race plans, and doing Qualifying runs.
In FP1, they typically focus on their setups. During FP2, they conduct their extended race runs.
After each session, drivers discuss car performance and potential adjustments with their engineers.
Post-practice stretching, hydration, and possibly a massage.
F1 Driver schedule – Saturday, 28th October 2023: Qualifying Day
Free Practice 3 (FP3)
The final practice session before qualifying. In FP3, the drivers and engineers’ home in on the optimal settings and strategy for the qualifying laps.
The all-important session where grid positions for the race are determined.
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After qualifying the team spends time together discussing everything they have learned duirng teh practice and qualifying sessions.
From this they are able to prepare the strategies for Sunday. A number of strategies are prepared, typically option A, B, C or more. This gives them the flexibility they need to handle any contingencies in the race.
F1 Driver schedule – Sunday, 29th October 2023: Race Day
Each driver will have their own way to prepare for the race. This may include light physical activity to get the body ready.
The Main GP Race
This is the moment that the whole week’s activities have been focused on. Drivers give their all to secure the best possible result for their team.
Similar to the American GP, drivers will have debriefs, media obligations, and recovery sessions.
F1 Driver schedule – Monday, 30th October 2023: Transition to Brazil
Travel to São Paulo
Teams and drivers head to São Paulo, Brazil, in preparation for the Brazilian GP.
Initial Team Briefing
A preliminary discussion about the upcoming race weekend at the Interlagos circuit.
From this point on, drivers will repeat a similar schedule, adjusting to the Brazilian GP’s specific demands. The week showcases the dedication, preparation, and hard work that goes into every race weekend, making it clear that F1 racing is more than just the action on Sundays.