Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Dario Does It For Dan - 2012 Indianapolis 500 Review

Dario Franchitti claimed his third Indy 500 crown in spectacular fashion last Sunday.

Franchitti recovered from this early incident
The Scot, starting from the middle of the field took the lead for the first time on lap 151 after earlier falling to last place after being spun in the pits by EJ Viso of KV Racing.

The two Lotus runners, Simona de Silvestro and rookie Jean Alesi were black flagged after nine and ten laps respectively due to not meeting Indy Car's 105% Speed ruling.

A spinning Conway (top) took out Will Power
Championship leader Scott Dixon was an early victim after a colision with the spinning Mike Conway. The Andretti Curse also struck again when Marco Andretti crashed out of eigth place with only 12 laps remaining. He had earlier complained that the high temperatures were affecting the soles of his racing shoes.

The race set the record for most lead changes in the Indy 500 (35), Franchitti, Andretti, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe and even former F1 stars Rubens Barichello and Takuma Sato were amongst the leaders.

Sato's move didn't pay off
In the closing stages, Target Chip Ganassi team meats Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon exchanged the lead with Tony Kanaan also coming into play. After leading earlier, and making a fantastic pass on Scott Dixon a lap earlier to take second; Takuma Sato made a brave move on the last lap at turn one for the lead but he got his left wheels onto the white line at the bottom of the racing surface, spinning into the wall, subsequently ending the race under caution.

Franchitti leads Dixon
Franchitti, Dixon and Kanaan (1-2-3 in the race) crossed the line together in tribute to their best friend Dan Wheldon, the 2011 Indy 500 winner who died tragically last October in a crash during the Indy Car World Championsip race at Las Vegas.

An emotional Franchitti, donning Wheldon's trademark white framed sunglasses, said in victory lane: "To be on the trophy beside Dan on either side, that means more than anything. Everybody up there was a friend of Dan's and everybody loved Dan. I think DW [Dan Wheldon] would be proud of that one."

Franchitti kisses the bricks
Dan Wheldon's 2011 Indy 500 car took to the track before the race in a short tribute whilst American troops where honoured, with team owner Bryan Herta behind the wheel.

 Images from LA Times

In memory of Dan Wheldon - 1978-2011

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Insight: An F1 Physio

When we think of Jobs in Formula One, we tend to think of drivers, engineers and team managers. However, one of the most important roles within a Formula One team is that of a driver's physio. Sahara Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg's physion Florian Eschrich gave us an insight into his role.

Florian previously worked with Michael Schumacher and Timo Glock and always intended to work with professional athletes. Although not being a priority, he says that working in Formula One is good. Nico Hulkenberg and Florian previously knew each other leading to Nico asking Florian if they wanted to work together, leading to their current relationship. Despite busy schedules, they still meet away from the track too. 

Before a race weekend, keeping concentration high is a priority, 'it's not the time for hard training right before a race' Florian explains. During the race weekend, Florian tries to make Nico's weekend comfortable, giving him therapy treatments to keep him healthy.

Driving is of course a priority during the race weekend as it is what they are all there for but physical fitness is extremely important for drivers. physical exercise plays a part in the weekend as Florian tells us - "There's not much time for sports, but we normall do a little warm up session in the morning like swimming or running.'

Florian currently works with Nico Hulkenberg
As well as making sure Nico eats and drinks the right things at the right times, Florian also prepares Nico's drink bottle that he has in the car, which is simply a drink that contains many minerals to replace those lost during the race due to sweat and strain on the body.

To be successful, a driver needs perfect concentration and persistence, which is what the physio helps them train for, making him an integral part of the race team. When the driver is in the car, the physio has the important job of showing the pitboard, ensuring that a physio is involved every step of the way.

Q&A with Florian Eschrich

Q: How did you get your job with Sahara Force India? Did you always intend to working F1?
A: I was asked by Nico if I´d like to work with him. We knew each other a little time before.
It was always a goal to work with professionals in sports. It was not priority to work in F1. But now I think it´s a very good place to work.

Q: Have you previously worked with any other drivers?
A: I worked with Michael Schumacher and Timo Glock as spare in the seasons 2010 and 11

Q: What do you do with your driver leading up to a race weekend?
A: We try to keep the concentration level high, but it´s not the time for hard training right before a race.

Q: Could you give us an insight into what you do during the race weekends with Nico?
A: I try to make his weekend comfortable. Watch that he drinks enough, gets his meals in the right time and so on. So that he can concentrate on his work, being fast!
There´s not much time for sports, but we normaly do a little warm up session in the morning like swimming or running. And of course I´m doing therapy treatments each day to keep him healthy!

Q: What about when he's in the car?
A: When he´s in the car, my job is to give him the drinking bottle and just be there if he needs something. While the race I do the pitboard!

Q: What is in the driver's drink in the car and how does it help with energy, lost body fluids etc?
A: Normaly it´s just a simple drink with a perfect proportion of minerals to make it easy for the body to take in. Because of sweating and the physical strain the body loses minerals which we have to give back to stay fit and concentrated. If you don´t, you get tired and weak!

Q: From your perspective, what is essential for a driver to be successful?
A: Of course you need a good car to win a race. But success can also be, to kick the best out of a car which is not the fastest! This is what nico does at the moment! To do that of course you need a perfect concentration and persistence!! This is what we train for!

Q: Do you and Nico share a close relationship outside of work?
A: We don´t share the same time like we do on race weekends :) because we both have our private lifes with family and so on. But yes we meet each other outside of the work, too!

Follow Florian on Twitter - @real_flo

Pics from Florian Eschrich's Twitter page and