Munich. #STAYHOME – this guideline applies to the BMW works drivers as well. Instead of competing in the various race series, they are currently spending their time at home, but they are by no means sat twiddling their thumbs, even in the mandatory break the BMW drivers have a full schedule. This ranges from fitness training and sim racing, through time with the family, to pursuing old and new hobbies.
Keeping fit in pre-season preparations.
The BMW works drivers are using the time to keep fit so that they are as well prepared as possible for the first races. Two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann (GER), for example, regularly invites his fans to take part in his training sessions at home via his social media channels. “At the moment I really am doing a huge amount of exercise – be it endurance training, strength, coordination, or mental training,” confirms Wittmann. For Lucas Auer (AUT), new to the BMW DTM squad, sport is his main focus as it is for almost everyone. “I do two sessions a day. It keeps you fit and you feel good. I have a treadmill, an ergometer and an arm crank for my endurance training here at home in Kufstein. On top of that I am doing all my specific neck, core and other exercises that I need to stay fit.”
The drivers are being supported with their training at home by Formula Medicine and are being given specially devised training plans. For example, BMW Motorsport Junior Dan Harper (GBR), who is currently at home with his family in Northern Ireland. “I’m training four to five times a week using a training plan that I was given by Formula Medicine.”
Bruno Spengler (CAN), who is contesting with BMW Team RLL in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, is even using his training at home for competitions: “I’m cycling at home and can do it with friends using Swift. We compete against each other in races online. These online races are really difficult, but are so much fun.” Then there is the strength training that Spengler does in the small gym that, like many other BMW racing drivers, he has set up at home.
BMW DTM driver Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) is also set up with his own training equipment at home in South Africa. “I’m fitter now than I ever have been and feel even better prepared for the season than I have in previous years. The break has meant that I have used my time to work consistently on my fitness and to focus on it,” said van der Linde – like many of his BMW colleagues.
Sim racing: preparing for real-life, virtually.
There is one discipline that is taking up a lot of time for almost all the BMW works drivers: sim racing, which is one of the pillars of the BMW Group Motorsport activities. “It is currently experiencing an incredible boom in the present situation,” confirmed Martin Tomczyk (GER), BMW works driver in GT racing. “Almost every works driver has a simulator at home these days, and anyone who hasn’t got one yet will probably be buying one in the next few weeks. The simulations are of a very high standard now, the race series that are organised by the various promoters are great and they are incredibly popular. Everything is so realistic these days that you really feel the motivation as a racing driver and are ecstatic when you get a win. Set-up work, discipline, concentration and team work are factors here as well.”
Sim racing not only keeps the drivers in ‘race mode’, it also keeps them in contact with the fans. “Despite the break, we can still put on a show that the fans can follow live. It’s really great, there are different live-streams during the races and everyone really enjoys it. I also think it’s great that BMW is getting so involved in sim racing,” said Spengler. Nick Catsburg (NED) agreed. “It’s great for all of us in the racing community, for us as drivers and for the fans.” Tomczyk, Spengler, Catsburg, van der Linde and Philipp Eng (AUT) are the ‘old hands’ in sim racing. BMW colleagues such as Timo Glock (GER), Connor De Phillippi (USA) and Auer have now also got involved and bought themselves a simulator.
Time for family.
A positive aspect of the current situation for many BMW works drivers is that they are now able to spend a lot of time with their families, and they are doing so across the whole world. GT driver Augusto Farfus (BRA), for example, is with his wife and children in Brazil. “It’s great that I am with my family. This hasn’t been the case for the past 20 years of my life. Unfortunately, it’s because of something that is by no means pleasant, but at least I get to spend a lot more time close to my parents and my family than usual.” Van der Linde is also spending as much time as possible with his parents in South Africa: “Usually I live in Germany during the season. The last time I spent as much time with them as this was three years ago, so this is lovely, despite the current global crisis.”
GT expert Catsburg is enjoying the time he is getting to spend with his little girl at the moment, who has just celebrated her first birthday. “It is really lovely to spend more time with her and be there to experience how she discovers and learns all sorts of things. She is learning so quickly at the moment, and to be honest, it is amazing to be here for it.”
BMW DTM driver Glock has a grin on his face as he explains that as a family man it can sometimes be “a challenge keeping the children entertained all day,” but also testified “It is lovely to spend a lot of time with my family now. The children are enjoying it too. It’s obviously a little strange for them because they know that I’m usually away a lot, but they are happy that I’m here at the moment.” Tomczyk, who like Glock has two children, added, “It’s a really intense time with the family at the moment. You can sense that the children are also coping well with the situation and that the whole family relationship is being reinforced and strengthened.”
With all the joy that the much more intense family life is bringing BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver Alexander Sims (GBR) with his three children, he pointed out, “In light of the global exceptional situation, it feels strange having so much joy with the family, but to be honest that is exactly what I need at this difficult time.”
New role: Racing drivers as home-school teachers.
Those BMW works drivers who have school-age children are also slipping into another role at the moment – as are countless other parents around the world at this time. Children now have home schooling. “This means that mum and dad have to take on the role of teacher for now. You get lessons from the teacher and spend two hours in the morning with the children teaching them. After all, it won’t be possible to make up the time later on – which is why home schooling is necessary. It’s really interesting,” said Tomczyk, and added with a laugh “but it also takes a lot of energy out of the parent doing the schooling.”
Home schooling is also an established part of the daily routine in the Farfus household in Brazil at the moment. Farfus’ daughter goes to school in Monaco; now he is helping her study. “There is a lot of homework to do, in English and in French, and that is quite a challenge. She is in the fourth grade and is learning things like maths, geography and history. It’s great to be much more involved in the academic development of my daughter now but it takes up a lot of time. We get up at 6 a.m. Brazilian time every morning and then spend at least three hours doing lessons. Then at lunchtime we do another learning session because we are trying to stay on track with the topic.”
Old and new hobbies.
Aside from fitness training, sim racing, family life and home schooling, the BMW drivers are also using the current break to do everyday things. “For example, gardening, or sweeping the driveway – all the things that you usually squeeze in in a rush when you’re at home,” explained Wittmann. Catsburg has also spent a lot of time in his garden over the past few weeks: “I’m not really the biggest gardening fan, but I seem to be spending so much time in the garden at the moment that it has never looked as good as it does now,” he said. Sims is also spending a lot of time in the garden with his children and has used the time to build a garden shed.
The BMW works drivers now also have the opportunity to pursue old and new hobbies. For example, Farfus is combining his passion for model airplanes with family time in Brazil. “In Europe, I don’t often get around to it because I don’t have a lot of time there, and there aren’t many fields in Monaco. Here in Brazil we have an empty field that no one else goes to. I take my children with me so that they get to be outside in nature and the open air, while remaining isolated, which is extremely important these days, and I can fly my airplanes. My son loves it too; he is a huge fan of airplanes.”
Glock has discovered a new hobby: He is doing an online cookery class. “I’ve been meaning to do it for a while. Now I’ve finally got around to it,” said Glock. “It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a big challenge and uncharted territory for me, but it’s working out quite well.” Spengler is also spending more time than usual in the kitchen and is cooking with his wife but admitted “Since my wife is so much better at it than me, it’s more like I am helping her out.”
De Phillippi has branched out in a totally different direction. While he is waiting to get back to the IMSA series and the Nordschleife, he is dabbling in stock exchanges and financial markets. “I’ve developed a great interest in it during this period. I’ve read a lot about shares, bonds and ETFs to learn how they work together so it’s kind of a new hobby for me. You have to read a lot, and there are a lot of complicated aspects, but I’m really interested in anything to do with numbers.”
Formula E driver Sims is also doing his bit for the greater good and is supporting the NHS, the national health service in Great Britain. “My data engineer had the idea of asking people and teams involved in motorsport for protective equipment that they have in stock, collecting it and then donating it to the hospitals,” reported Sims. “It is primarily gloves that we got from all sorts of teams, masks, glasses, cleaning cloths, cleaning products and all-over body suits. It was a great idea that my engineer had and I’m grateful that I can do my bit and do something to help at this difficult time. There isn’t a lot more that you can do to help at the moment – other than stay at home and prevent the spread of the disease.”