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The Grueling, Highly Trained, Grueling Life of an F1 Rookie


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FORMULA ONE IS a physically grueling and mentally taxing sport, even for the experienced. 

Drivers must withstand up to 3.5 g’s of cornering force, turn after turn, for races that cover nearly 200 miles and last up to two hours. 

They wear fireproof suits and are crammed into cockpits that get so hot, they can drop 6.5 pounds in body weight between flags. They’re driving north of 200 mph—about 300 feet per second—sometimes just inches apart from one another, with visibility not unlike poking your head out of a well. And if their energy or concentration lapses for even a moment, it can cost them time, a dropped position, or even a crash. 

They run 20 races in 20 countries, in eight months. They race in extreme humidity, heat, or rain, sometimes just days after your last race. They must have each track perfectly memorized, and then be able to adjust on the fly to account for changing conditions. Only then can whatever talent they have as a driver make a difference.

For rookies, it’s even tougher.

Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, Jr. have shown plenty of that talent this season. At the start of the 2015 season, Sainz was 20, Verstappen just 17 (both had birthdays in September). That makes Verstappen the youngest F1 driver ever—and since the rules now bar anyone under 18 from competing, he’ll hold the record indefinitely. Both rookies drive for Scuderia Toro Rosso, a mid-field team created in 2006. With two races left in this 2015 season, they’ve earned their place on the starting grid. Sainz has seven top ten finishes in 17 races. Verstappen has nine, plus a pair of fourth place finishes. They’re ranked 15th and 10th out of 20, respectively.

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