Power and control, the winning formula of Doctor Ceccarelli's scientific research in Formula 1

In recent years, Formula Medicine's successful medical-scientific research programs has conquered new and ambitious frontiers in the world of Formula 1, testing new technological tools capable of significantly increasing registered body parameters and allowing drivers to increase their performance.
Chequered flag
Dr. Riccardo Ceccarelli began his career in Formula 1 in 1989. He has just graduated in sports medicine and, in a field still far from contemporary logic, is the athletic trainer at the team Leyton House Formula 1 which Mauricio Gugelmin and Ivan Capelli run.

Formula Medicine is a complete team where each professional carries out only the functions related to his qualification, as happens in all sports of high level

He takes care of every clinical aspect of the drivers, if necessary, he also works as a physiotherapist. Realising the importance of medicine applied to drivers of the highest category, he founded Formula Medicinea few years later, now a world leader in the preparation of athletes involved in motorsports. More than a thousand drivers have passed through here: Daniel RicciardoFernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc to name a few of the more recent ones.
Curve of a Formula 1 car racing track
Formula 1 is an atypical situation compared to other sports because the athletic and mental trainers of this sector have not been professional drivers in the past. It is as if a top skier were trained by a trainer who has never faced a descent in his life. Riccardo Ceccarelli immediately realised how much this aspect represented an important limit.
Parabolic curve of the Hockenheim track, Germany
He decided to compensate for this shortcoming by starting a research program aimed at investigating every single aspect in depth of the psycho-physical effort to which a Formula 1 driver is subjected. In doing so, he has developed a specific training methodology for this discipline.

The first heart rate monitor that can be worn during the Formula 1 Grand Prix

As anticipated in the opening, exactly thirty years ago, the first experience of Doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli: during the Grand Prix of Germany Formula 1, on the fast circuit of Hockenheim, a heart rate monitor is applied to Ivan Capelli to monitor the variations of his heartbeat during the race.
Aerial view of the Hockenheim Circuit, Germany.
Given the bulky dimensions of the object and the narrowness of the cockpit of a Formula 1 single-seater, the instrument is fixed directly to the safety belts. This experiment aroused the grievances of the Leyton House Formula 1 team, worried that the instrument could cause disturbance to the Italian driver. At the time, the teams showed little interest in the subject: this situation proved to be constant and complicated research for many years to come.
The cockpit of Ivan Capelli's single-seater is fitted with Formula Medicine detection systems
In 1990 smaller heart rate monitors were developed, again for Formula 1 teams, but it is often necessary to hide them under the drivers' jerseys in order to avoid controversy with the team managers. Nevertheless, the registrations in the race involve an increasing number of teams and a mass of data is created that is increasingly reliable also from a statistical point of view.
The starting grid of a Formula 1 circuit at the finish line
The following year Doctor Ceccarelli starts to measure the variations of about thirty blood parameters induced by the psychophysical stress of the Formula 1 race. He makes two withdrawals from the driver: a pre-start and a second at the end of the Grand Prix.

Many Formula 1 teams are starting to look forward to these experiments, intrigued by the results that emerge.

Among the various objectives, a study by Doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli aimed at developing an adequate diet, which finally has a scientific basis and is not entrusted only to the tastes of the Formula 1 driver or the imagination of unqualified people.

Moreover, the control of the variation of some hormones allows evaluating, for the first time, the extent of mental stress to which pilots are subjected during the two hours of competition.

Heartbeat acquisition during the race

In 1992 a big step forward was made thanks to a new instrument always created by the team of Doctor Riccarso Ceccarelli that, worn by the Formula 1 driver, can detect the heartbeat and that is directly connected to the data acquisition system of the single-seater. The study was born from the need to synchronize the heart activity of the Formula 1 driver with the dynamics of the race according to a perfect correlation between space and time.
Biometric surveys of a Formula 1 driver
With this tool it becomes possible to investigate in detail the work carried out by the driver of Formula 1, meter by meter, relating the heart rate with the various dynamics that the driver faces: curves, straights, braking, lateral accelerations, overtaking and, sometimes, accidents.
In 1993, Doctor Ceccarelli moved to the Minardi Formula 1 team and medical research showed a clear development thanks to the availability of Giancarlo Minardi, founder, and director of the team of the same name. He deserves credit for being the first Team Manager of a Formula 1 team to understand the real importance of this type of study: in fact, with the full collaboration of the entire staff, it becomes easier to collect a large amount of data to analyse.

The birth of Formula Medicine

Jarno Trulli and Dr Ceccarelli
Thus, in 1994, came Formula Medicine, a structure created specifically to provide Formula 1 teams with a complete team where each professional carries out only the functions related to his qualification, as happens in all high-level sports.

The first electrocardiograph

In the same year, Doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli met the Institute of Institute of Clinical Physiology of the National Research Council (CNR) . From this collaboration, the first electrocardiograph that can be used in a Formula 1 car was born. The instrument weighs 500 grams and is tested by Michele Alboreto at the Grand Prix of Japan: it is the first time in the history of the maximum formula that the driver's electrocardiogram is recorded in the race along with the car's data. The following year the instrument will be redesigned, and its total weight will fall to 20 grams.

For Doctor Ceccarelli there are not only the four wheels: in the 2017 and 2018 seasons his team has also followed Danilo Petrucci, rider from Terni riding the Ducati Desmosedici of Pramac team in MotoGP.

The data emerging from the new acquisition system are sensational. It turns out that violent accelerations and decelerations can cause physical repercussions that until now had not been foreseen at all. An example? During sudden braking, there are instantaneous falls in the heart rate, which goes from 160 to 60 beats within a second: it stays at this rate for 2-3 seconds and then immediately returns to 160.
Race simulator
This surprising phenomenon is repeated punctually in the same stretch of track and for all seventy laps of the race. A similar reaction has never been found in other sports. Not even in the aerospace field are traces of such a striking and repeated reaction: the discovery arouses amazement in the various international congresses of cardiology where it is presented.

The first simulator and the years in Toyota

In 1995, the Formula Medicine team led by Doctor Ceccarelli created the first driving simulator for a Formula 1 car capable of reproducing the physical stresses to which a driver is subjected in the race; today these simulators are a reference point for each specific training.
Wearable heart rate monitor
1997 is the year of Jarno Trulli 's debut in Formula 1 and the working methods of Doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli's team reach a new level. The evaluation of the data collected in collaboration with the CNR, given the complexity, now makes it essential to have a driver even in the analysis phase and the champion from Pescara actively collaborates in this direction. The year 2000 onwards, the working philosophy of Formula Medicine is extended.
Innovation of Formula Medicine
Thanks to a new assignment received from the Toyota Formula 1 team, the established drivers are no longer the only ones to be followed. Young promises, engineers, and mechanics are integrated into the psychophysical training programs, which are also key players in the success or failure of a single-seater in a race.

Formula Medicine with Alonso and Renault Formula 1

In 2003 Formula Medicine became the team responsible for medical and athletic aspects for the Renault F1, team, which with Fernando Alonso will win two world titles in 2005 and 2006. In 2006 all eleven teams taking part in the Formula 1 World Championship officially entrusted Doctor Ceccarelli with the checks on the safety standards of the Formula 1 circuits during the tests and asked him to indicate the improvements to be made.
Risonanza magnetica
This is how a new internal department, called Safety, is born.  The goal is to standardise all circuits to a level of efficiency that the maximum possible safety of drivers and teams is always guaranteed. In nine seasons, until 2014, fifteen circuits are checked during ninety specific tests carried out in various locations. In the two-year period 2010-11 the Mental Economy Project is launched.
The data collected in the previous five years with magnetic resonance imaging as part of the research undertaken with the University and CNR of Pisa are used to teach the Formula 1 driver how to achieve higher brain performance and with an ever-lower expenditure of nerve energy.

From Formula 1 to the DTM Championship

In 2012 Formula Medicine achieved another prestigious collaboration, becoming the reference structure of BMW Motorsport on its return to the DTM championship. The team takes care of the medical care, athletic preparation and mental training of all drivers. The Bavarian team, at its new debut, wins the drivers' championship with Bruno Spengler, the constructors' championship, the prize for best team and best Rookie of the Year with Augusto Farfus.
The following year, other important liaisons were added. Formula Medicine becomes the reference structure of seven teams in Formula 1: Force India, Lotus, Marussia, Mercedes, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Williams. The team must constantly deal with the state of health of all members of the teams listed above, for a total of more than five hundred people.
The figures reached at the end of the year are impressive: 1354 people followed over the course of the nineteen races, for a total of 2259 interventions. in recent years, the medical-scientific research program successfully carried out by Formula Medicine has conquered new and ambitious frontiers, testing new technological tools that can significantly increase the registered body parameters.

The medical-scientific research program of Formula Medicine is testing new technological tools that can increase the body parameters recorded in Formula 1 drivers.

For Doctor Ceccarelli there are not only the four wheels: in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, his team has also followed Danilo Petrucci, a rider from Terni riding the Ducati Desmosedici of Pramac team in MotoGP. It is precisely the case to say, taking up the famous publicity of a well-known tire manufacturer, that "power is nothing without control".
And, considering the results achieved by Riccardo Ceccarelli over the course of three decades, we feel we need to specify both physical and mental control. Driving a Formula 1 car to the limit is really a multitasking operation. Strength and talent are certainly essential to performance, but they are not enough: we also need a relaxed heart and brain; the dedication, passion, and efficiency of Formula Medicine have shown us this.

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