Neel Jani and his trainer Helmut Fink have been working together since Jani was just 18 years old. Jani's offseason training regimen appears far removed from motorsports. In addition to working on his strength and mental capacity, Neel sees his winter Alpine training as a calming moment, in stark contrast to the hectic world of endurance racing. The 2016 WEC champion's pre-season training includes cross country skiing, mountaineering, and shooting in Seefeld, Austria.
The thirty three year old driver ventures back to Austria annually for his pre-season training, and watching the video it's easy to see why. As Jani say, "I love training in winter, I hate being in the gym inside. When you see this, what you can do outside, it's just so much." His routine is varied, yet each discipline comes back to improving his performance in the car. Cross country skiing and mountaineering are important for strength and macro-motor skills. On the other hand shooting emphasizes fine motor control, and forces Jani to work on his breathing and mental acuity.
How do other drivers stay fit?
Racing drivers stay fit in a wide variety of ways. Beyond the normal routine of gym workouts and running, many participate in other competitive disciplines as well. Mark Webber famously is a very avid cyclist, and has organized adventure Mountain Bike races in his native Australia. Walter Röhrl has used his skiing and cycling experience as an avenue for explaining car control. Outside of Porsche, the training undertaken by Formula 1 drivers is astonishing, and the high level of fitness seen in modern drivers is often attributed to Ayrton Senna. In the words of Indy 500 legend Bobby Rahal "we joked in the old days of Indy that if you couldn't drive with a hangover, you were nobody."
Times have certainly changed.