Training to drive in Formula E isn’t quite like any other sport.
Most athletes are working toward being as savagely big and muscular as possible. But for drivers on the Formula E circuit, the key to being ready on race day is being as light and lean as humanly possible. They want their impact on their car to be negligible to ensure maximum speed.
We caught up with the duo in Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn for a boxing session ahead of the 2018 FIA Formula E Championship race in Red Hook on July 14. Here’s a more in-depth look at how they’ve been preparing, why they’re hooked on skydiving, and their favorite ways to train outdoors.
Men’s Journal: What’s your preparation like leading up to a race?
Nelson Piquet Jr.: Even though every race is different, our preparation doesn’t change much from race to race. Racing is more of a mental state than anything else. It’s about being confident in your driving and how you feel when you’re out there. Sometimes I’ll go to the gym and do some weight work, but it depends. We do a lot of training in the race simulator. It’s a very advanced race system that takes up the space of a house. It’s about 1,000 square feet. In many ways, ours is not a physical sport, it’s a mental sport. I would say it’s 70 percent mental and 30 percent physical.
Mitch Evans: We’ve been doing this since we were young, but we make sure we’ve done the work and make all the preparations we can for each particular circuit. Racing is quite unique, so we simulate the race that we’ll be doing that week. Everyone’s got their own preparations. A lot of it is very second nature, but the simulator helps us prepare for the different obstacles in each circuit, because each one has different challenges.
You do a fair amount of cardio and HIIT. How does that help you on the track?
Evans: Boxing is what I like to do. Plyometrics, rowing, and HIIT workouts are some of what I enjoy most. It’s not exactly CrossFit, but in that style. I used to cycle a lot, but I get a bit bored and feel like it’s a bit pointless after a few hours going around. When I train, I like to do things that are explosive. I like running, but I really love doing circuit training and conditioning work. Obviously, I don’t want to build too much mass because the car is quite heavy as it is, and those workouts are perfect for that—they burn a lot of calories.
Piquet: I do jiu-jitsu in Miami, because it’s more of a self-defense style. I’m from one of the most dangerous countries in the world: Brazil. It’s very big for Brazilians to practice with the Valente Brothers in Miami. They go through different scenarios, so you know how to defend yourself. You always want to be prepared if something happens in the real world. It also helps with my training.
What are some of your favorite outdoor activities?
Piquet: In Miami, I go cycling. It’s the only place I feel safe doing it. I’m always scared of getting hurt, especially in Europe. We live in Monaco and it’s a little dangerous over there for cyclists. I try to go go-karting when I can, too. In Monaco, I run more because it’s very nice to run by the coast—it’s beautiful. I also enjoy skydiving. Apart from that, it just depends on where I am.
Do you enjoy other high-adrenaline sports?
Piquet Jr: Sky diving’s something I always thought was cool. I’ve always wanted to try it by myself, not tandem. Once I did it, I found it to be simultaneously the worst and best feeling. So I started doing it more and more. I’ve done about 15 or 20 jumps. Now I’m in a phase where it’s going to accelerate much quicker. The more you do it, the more you enjoy it. It’s still terrifying, every time you go up, but it’s amazing. That kind of adrenaline is something I hadn’t felt since NASCAR. When you’re in Daytona, Talladega, and you’re running at 220mph in a pack of 30 cars—its hard to feel something like that anywhere else. When you’re racing, you go through all those emotions and physical adrenaline. You get addicted in a sense.
What’s it like being able to race in Brooklyn?
Piquet: Racing in New York is always fun. The track is great, but it’s more about the environment. New York is one of the places Mitch and I enjoy coming to the most. There are much worse places to go racing.
Evans: It’s one of the most iconic cities in the world. It would be amazing to have it in Manhattan one day, but that would be a little tough. The Brooklyn location is cool, and having the backdrop of the skyline is amazing. I think to wrap the season up here is incredible… it’s one of the best places to do that.
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