How important is fitness as a Porsche Junioren driver?
We had to pass certain tests to get into the programme. We'd be hooked up to gadgets and have our running and cycling tested to see how we all compared. Porsche mainly do endurance, lactic acid and VO2 Max testing. To be a racing driver you don’t have to be able to bench press 300kg but you do have to have stamina and be fit and be light. We go to a University near Berlin three times a year and do various different workouts while Porsche monitors my performance and provides different training regiments for any areas they want me to improve
Is your weight something you need to monitor?
I don’t have to worry about it too much but I do enjoy eating healthy and training hard. From last year my weight is down 4kg and I weigh 59-60 kg and I’m 1.74m. I’m lucky the way I am. Taller guys like Mark [Webber] look really squeezed in the car. In F1, tall drivers have a disadvantage because they weigh about 10kg more and every kilo is almost a tenth of a second – when you multiply that by 10 that can be almost a second on the race track. In endurance races you can have two or three guys in a car and you can have a tall and short guy making it hard to find a comfortable seating position for everybody.
How important is having a strong neck?
Neck training is also one of the things I focus on, as well as the lower back as we sit in the car for such a long time. I also do exercises on a medicine ball with a 20kg weight activating my core and shoulders. I’ll do that for two minutes then take a break. This helps build up my muscle endurance, my biggest goal is core, leg, lower back and neck strength.
What does your daily workout look like?
On a cardio day I’ll cycle for two hours and run between 45 minutes and an hour covering 70km. When I’m in Germany I’ll do modified squats and work on strength, balance and coordination. In the gym I’ll do leg presses and full squats. In the winter I focus more reaction training. There’s a place in Indiana, where I touch different spotlights, which helps me work on my peripheral vision.
Is mental preparation something you work on?
Last year was the first time I worked with sport physiologist and it really unlocked a different side of sport to me as an athlete. I never realised how much the mental side affects performance.
When you’re a half second ahead of your quickest lap you have to decide to either keep pushing for the rest of the lap or play it a little conservative and just finish the lap half a second ahead. Sometimes I would see I was ahead and push too hard and ruin the lap by making a mistake. I really wanted to learn how to not lose the focus and concentration. At first, with the physiologists I focused on covering the sensor that told me the quickest lap and just focus and my driving which often resulted in my quickest laps. Little things like this helped me raise my game. Qualifying has gone from my weakest point last year, to my strongest this year. I didn’t learn how to qualify overnight but I became the complete package, with fitness and the mental side of things.
Is it hard to maintain your fitness with your racing schedule?
This year’s been really busy! I was only home for two days because I’ve competed in two championships and training on the road is really difficult. For example today I’ll just go for a run to keep active because driving for 40 minutes isn’t much of a cardio workout.
I have to balance racing and speaking to the media with my fitness which requires a lot of commitment. It’s something that people who rely on you as a racing driver expect as part of your job: to be fit and perform for three hours in the car so even if even it’s raining I’ll get out and do some type of training. If the mechanics are pouring their hearts into the car and I’m not doing my job on the fitness side of things and losing one second a lap for the last 45 minutes of the race, I’m letting my team down and being unprofessional.
Is there anyone in racing your admire?
Definitely Mark Webber. It’s my dream is to be what he is. He's great to have around and to learn from as he’s made all the mistakes you can make because he’s come up through the ranks. That’s really good for me as a young aspiring driver to make it to the top. The best advice he's given me is that ou never know who’s watching, so always be professional. He’s seen many drivers ruin their careers by being disrespectful to people they haven’t recognised who have ended up being the ones making the decisions.
He’s one of the fittest guys in racing. Always cycling, running.The commitment he shows by doing those 200km rides is really motivating.
Connor competes in the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany as a Porsche Junioren driver. For more information on Connor and Jorg Gray watches please check out jorggray.co.uk
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