Jamie Whincup isn’t one for pre-race rituals, especially not superstitious ones. According to him, his only habitual routine is “getting into the car on the right-hand side”. Always helpful.
However, there are a few keys things that need to be done before hitting the track.
Stay hydrated – This probably starts the earliest of all the preparation. I make sure I take in plenty of fluid throughout the day, and more in the build up to a race, as we lose so much in the car. If you look at a race like Adelaide, it’s about 50°C inside the cabin and you lose a good few kilos in body weight through sweat and as soon as you’re dehydrated you can lose concentration.
Data – I’m a big one for studying the numbers and data to prepare for any session, whether that’s practice, qualifying or a race. I like to sit down with my engineer and learn as much as I can from the information available to try and unlock that key component that will make us that one hundredth of a second quicker, which can make all the difference in this game.
Get in the zone – At Red Bull Racing Australia we have what we call “blackout periods” before a session. These give us the time and space we need to mentally prepare for the session ahead. When we’re flat out with autograph sessions and appearances before, it’s great to have that time to switch into driving mode.
Physio – We also use these blackout periods for our team physio to give us a stretch before getting in the car. When you’re driving you don’t use both sides of your body equally, you’re constantly twisting, so it’s vital for us to stay aligned and flexible. No athlete can perform at their best if they’re not physically feeling their best.
Kit up – The last piece of the puzzle is to actually get your kit on and go. If the weather is cold or it’s a qualifying session when you want to keep the weight down, we’ll wear fireproof underwear, but most of the time we wear a cool suit. Over that we obviously have our race suit, then boots, earplugs, balaclava, helmet and gloves go on and it’s finally time to get behind the wheel.