Race Car Driver Stress and Anxiety

Yoga Man

Monitoring race car driver Biometrics data has been extremely insightful. The biggest discovery has been identifying driver stress and anxiety.

Our bodies send out clear signals when they are in a situation they are not confident or comfortable with. Individuals handle situations differently and some cope better than others. Where one corner or a section of the track might cause one driver to stress, other situations such as traffic or qualifying might affect another driver.

A common denominator is that a calm, relaxed driver is less prone to making mistakes and therefore, faster.

Recent Test Day Results

Three experienced drivers drove the same car with the following results:

    1. Driver A with an average heart rate of 116 was the fastest lapping 
    2. Driver B with an average heart rate of 153 was lapping a few tenths slower than Driver A. When driver B was told to pit the next lap, his speed stayed the same but his heart rate dropped 22%
    3. Driver C's heart rate was at the maximum -- above 175. He was 2 seconds a lap slower and in Turn 1, down changed to 2nd gear instead of 4th.

It was clear in this and other tests that the most stressed drivers are prone to making mistakes; the calmest drivers are consistently the fastest.

The following articles about driver stress in road cars show some common elements with motor racing.