Formula One driver prepares for Mexican Grand Prix debut at University of Bedfordshire

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Formula 1 driver, Frederik Vesti in the labs of University of Bedfordshire
Frederik Vesti preparing for the challenges of Mexico Image: University of Bedfordshire

Heat and high altitude are not usually words reserved for the University of Bedfordshire campus in October, but Frederik Vesti of the Mercedes Formula One team experienced just that at the Polhill Campus in preparation for this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Danish driver Vesti, who is currently second place in the Formula 2 Championship, replaces Briton George Russell for Free Practice 1 (FP1) in Mexico on Friday as the Mercedes team look to take advantage of the FIA-sanctioned “rookie practice”, giving young hopefuls the experience in an F1 car.

Using the Bedford campus’ state-of-the-art Human Performance Centre, Vesti was joined by two University of Bedfordshire students to recreate the unique challenges of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City with heat and high altitude acclimation the goal.

Speaking about his training in the HPC, Frederik said, “My time at the Human Performance Centre has been an invaluable experience in my preparations for the Mexico City Grand Prix.

“The specialised altitude and heat exposure sessions in their state-of-the-art environmental chamber have allowed me to optimise my physical capabilities and adapt to the challenging conditions I will face.

“The team’s scientific approach to athlete development has undoubtedly given me a competitive edge.”

A unique opportunity

The training sessions were observed and assisted by Dr Michael Newell and Dr Jeffrey Aldous, supported by PhD student Sean Sage and undergraduate student Jack Field, allowing them to develop their skills and hone their craft with an elite athlete.

Jack, a Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation student said, “This experience was phenomenal as I got to actively work with a driver, which is where I want to be after my degree.

“Being able to engage with Frederik’s support coach was also incredibly helpful in getting an insight on how to get into the world of motorsport. I had an outstanding chance given to me by the University and I couldn’t be happier that I got to play a part in the experience.”

The University’s Human Performance Centre has recently been used by professional athletes to help them improve their performance, including by the likes of MK Dons FC and triathlete, Lucy Charles Barclay as well as being used by Channel Four in their documentary, ‘The 21-Day Body Turnaround’.

And Vesti’s coach is certainly pleased with the effect the HPC has had on his driver.

“I can confidently say that our collaboration with the HPC has been instrumental in preparing Fred for the unique demands of the Mexico City Grand Prix.

“Their rigorous, evidence-based approach in simulating altitude and heat conditions has allowed us to fine-tune our training regimen, which has not only improved Fred’s physiological readiness but also instilled in us a sense of confidence in his preparedness for the upcoming race.”