The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a spectacle that sends hearts racing, not only for the fans but for the drivers and teams who take on the legendary Circuit de La Sarthe. For Ferrari’s 499P team, it was a challenge that extended far beyond the adrenaline-fueled race, encompassing sleep management, nutrition, and physical preparation.
The sleep strategies were unique to each driver. James Calado, who drove the winning number 51 499P, decided to go without sleep during the race. In contrast, his crewmate Alessandro Pier Guidi managed to grab four hours of sleep. The ability to train oneself to fall asleep quickly is crucial, and Antonio Giovinazzi, another driver on the top step of the podium, had mastered this art through ‘micro-naps’ and techniques like deep breathing, coupled with calming music.
Antonio Fuoco and Nicklas Nielsen, drivers of number 50 499P, which started in pole position, emphasized the importance of rest even if they couldn’t sleep. Each driver’s approach to rest management was personal and highly subjective. Sleep and rest strategies were often dictated by the team’s performance on the track and the expected schedule for getting back behind the wheel.
Nutrition played a pivotal role in keeping the drivers energized during the grueling 24-hour race. Frequent and calculated snacks were designed to optimize energy intake and digestion speed. James Calado relied on hydration and small portions before each stint, while others like Pier Guidi preferred a combination of pasta or rice with tarts. Antonio Giovinazzi’s food intake was a precise balance of proteins and carbs, with seven snacks, dinner, and breakfast planned during the race, even treating himself to a single coffee.
Exercise was an essential component to prepare for the 499P. Alongside strategizing with the engineers, each driver’s physical preparation was just as vital. This involved isometric exercises and even eye gymnastics to warm up eye muscles, reflecting the importance of reflexes on the track.
For the spectators, the thrilling race might seem all about speed, strategy, and winning. But for the drivers, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a physical and mental marathon. The Ferrari 499P drivers showcased the importance of maintaining a balance of sleep, nutrition, and exercise to ensure optimal performance on the race track. It’s a behind-the-scenes look that adds another dimension to understanding the commitment and strategies that go into conquering one of the world’s most famous motor races. From Tibetan flute music to carefully measured snacks, the Centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans was more than just laps around a circuit for these skilled drivers. It was a well-orchestrated symphony of human endurance and precision that led the Ferrari 499P to triumph.