Level of F1 drivers highest ever - Toro Rosso boss

Toro Rosso F1 team boss Franz Tost

Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost says the level of Formula 1 drivers is higher than ever, and will continue to rise, as more is understood about general health and fitness regimes.

Some in Formula 1 have suggested that the sport should increase the challenge by making cars more challenging to drive, with World Champion Lewis Hamilton reckoning drivers should be "physically exhaused" by the end of grands prix.

But Tost believes that the advancements in driver fitness means that there will never be a return to the days of racers being unable to reach the chequered flag.

“The current level of the drivers from the fitness side is the highest I’ve ever seen in Formula 1,” said Tost.

“You must not forget that we now have drivers who started motor sport when they were six or seven years old.

“That means that when they come to Formula 1, they’ve already done 10 to 15 years of karting first and then the junior categories and I’m not talking about the Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers.

“Our drivers have special physical training plans. They have their own coach, they have a nutrition plan.

“That means they are so well prepared that the driving itself is no longer so exciting for them and of course, you cannot compare this time with – let me say – 20 or 30 years ago when Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell or whoever collapsed after a race.”

Tost joked that in the past drivers would cover up a lack of fitness by triggering a mechanical failure.

“They never saw a fitness centre from the inside and some of them were smoking as well and in former days,” said Tost of drivers from previous generations.

“I remember that some cars did not finish the race and then they talked about gearbox problems.

“Hey, they were smoking beforehand and they were not fit enough to finish the race and then they put it in any gear so that the car stopped. They were not fit enough.

“This is the reality and nowadays we have really, really good drivers in Formula 1 and we have a very high level and therefore you don’t see accidents – which on one side is very good – from the entertaining point of view is boring.

“Friends of mine say you don’t even see a crash after the start in the first corner because they all manage to do it.

“It’s because the driving level is very, very high, I think the highest we’ve ever seen in Formula 1 and this will continue.

“But this is nothing to do only with Formula 1; this is in all the other sports as well, in skiing and so on, therefore I think we should be happy to see these drivers.”