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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Malaysia F1 like sex in a sauna

According to David Coulthard

David Coulthard lived up to his reputation as one of a dying breed of playboy racing drivers in Malaysia today when he compared driving in the sultry heat of Malaysia to having sex in a sauna. Asked during a routine pre-race news conference at the Sepang circuit about how it felt to drive a Formula One car in high humidity and temperatures of more than 33 degrees Celsius, the Scot gave a typically succinct reply. "It's like having to do some physical exercise in a sauna, effectively, and unless it was having sex, I cannot imagine why anyone would want to do anything in a sauna," said Coulthard.When the conference moderator interjected, saying that he always "brought it down to that" Coulthard, who has had a series of model girlfriends. "We're all here because of that aren't we - so I think it is a natural action between, normally a man and a lady, but sometimes."As laughter spread, the moderator interjected again. "Stop there". Are there any other analogies that anyone else can give us?" he said, and the interview swerved off course into more traditional and serious motor racing territory. The Malaysian Grand Prix, the hottest venue and most humid on the annual calendar of 19 races, drains drivers, spectators and all involved of energy.

"It is very tough because, even on the straights, it is difficult to breathe and because it is so humid here," said Jenson Button who has also had a playboy reputation during the earlier stages of his career. He is now concentrating on winning his first Grand Prix. "When you are trying to get some proper air into your lungs," he added, "it is difficult. It is really, really hot air."Ralf Schumacher was more interested in responding by talking about his car's performance. "It really depends. There are years when I have had a difficult car to race here and it was tough," the Toyota driver said. "There were other years when it was totally easy and so it depends on the whole package. If you have a nice running car then it is not a real problem. But if you have a lot of work to do in the car, then it is a problem usually."Jacques Villeneuve raised the debate to a higher level by warning of the dire consequences for drivers if, or when, they dehydrated in the stifling and debilitating conditions. "The thing is that you sweat a lot here which means that you get dehydrated so, in the second half of the race, you start losing a lot of your capacities because of that," he explained. He said he carried half a litre of fluid in the car for the race and the drivers all agreed that it was essential.

When it was mentioned that Fernando Alonso won last year's Malaysian Grand Prix despite the failure of his drinks supply, Button responded. "I know he won the race, but he didn't look too good did he after the race? You definitely need liquids in the race and before the race, too," he said. "I normally drink about five litres in the morning before the race. It makes a massive difference. I didn't have a drink here a couple of years ago and I was so dehydrated that I was shivering and getting cold in the car and then you start to lose your eyesight. It is much better to be hydrated."The last word on the subject, like the first, went to Coulthard. "Any of the physios should be able to give you figures on what the percentage drop-off in a human is once you start to lose a certain amount of body fluid," he explained. "You definitely lose performance. You are not going to be as sharp in your reactions, your mental capabilities drop off as your body dehydrates. And you just cannot battle against that.""You just get on with it because you are focussed, but in any circumstance in normal life you would be admitted to hospital with severe dehydration. And you know we just get a cold towel and a glass of water and you guys think 'ah, you don't do anything for your money!' No-one argued. Coulthard had enjoyed having the first laugh and the last on the subject.


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