"It was a good month of December. Finally, everything came to an end and you start getting some recognition for the job you did in the season that just ended. Many people came to congratulate me here back in Spain and also in the UK and other parts of the world too, so it was quite a pleasant month.it was a busy one too, with a lot of travel. Actually, in December, you are already thinking about the next year, so I went to the factory for meetings with the team and to see all the factory-based staff. This was also a time to do a seat fitting for the new car and on top of that, I travelled to a couple of the usual end-of-year motorsport awards evenings and also had some media events to attend. The idea was to get plenty of work done in December, to leave January fully clear for training.
"Towards the end of December, I went on holiday for a week to the Dominican Republic with my girlfriend and I spent the Christmas holidays with my family here in Madrid. Then I started training fully after Christmas in Madrid, immediately on the 26th. Normally, I would start training on the 2nd or 3rd but this year, I wanted to sneak in an extra week because we all know the physical demands of next year's car could be quite tough, so I wanted to anticipate this part of my training campaign a bit earlier. It meant that on New Years Eve, I couldn't party as hard as I did in other years, but you have to make these sacrifices every once in a while!
The extra training Carlos is talking about is a result of the new Formula 1 technical regulations, specifically the extra downforce the cars will generate, the extra grip from the wider tyres and the faster speeds. Therefore, the general expectation is that the forces on a driver's body, his neck for example, will be higher than in recent years, a throwback to the "good old days."
"Formula 1 cars, even if they were slower in recent years, they've never been easy in terms of the physical strain they place on drivers," explained the Spaniard. "They have different demands and it could be easy one year and a bit more difficult the next. You always need to be at a very high fitness level. It's true that probably this year, they're taking us to another extreme level that we don't even know about at the moment. I'm preparing for...expecting the worst. I'm expecting that after five laps in the first test in Barcelona, my neck is going to be gone and I'm going to be at 180 heartbeats per minute! If I make that assumption and train accordingly, then of course that will not really be the case. So that's why I started earlier than usual and I started pushing early. It's impossible to be too fit and too strong. At the first test in Barcelona the team will naturally be expecting me to do more than 100 laps a day and I plan to be ready for that."
Our Spanish driver reckons he never really switched off thinking about his job, during the holiday period. "In Formula 1, the only breaks you get are in summer and in December but at the end of the year you always have in the back of your mind the fact that you're about to start your training for the new season. The week I went to the Dominican Republic, it's true that it was a bit more of a holiday but still, I was opening my emails, seeing some stuff to do. It was not a proper disconnect. Formula 1 is like that - 365 days a year always thinking about your job...but I like it! And as we're pretty sure that you've already seen plenty of the same old photos of Carlos training, we've gone for holiday ones only... Much more appealing! What a paradise, eh?!