Daniel Ricciardo believes the extended winter break in Formula 1 forced by the COVID-19 pandemic could help him have a longer career in the sport.
The opening 10 races of the 2020 season have been called off due to the ongoing pandemic, but F1 officials are hopeful of starting the new campaign in Austria at the start of July.
Should that go to plan, it would mean the drivers have been out of action for over seven months since the 2019 season finale in Abu Dhabi, only interrupted by six days of pre-season testing in February.
Renault driver Ricciardo has been spending lockdown in his native Australia with his trainer, Michael Italiano, and hoped by making good use of the additional time to work on his physical condition he can extend his F1 career.
“We’ve been able to really knuckle down and set up a real training programme that we never really get,” Ricciardo said in an interview on BBC 5 Live.
“You get it at the start of the year, but once you get back to Europe and the travelling starts, it’s so hard to get any routine and consistency.
"Where now we’ve been able to build like an eight-week block as we’d call it, and starting to see some really good improvements. It’s just nice to have that time.
“I think part of it is the training, and being able to have this amount to condition my body, and I think the icing on the cake of that as well has been we haven’t been jumping timezones, we haven’t been locked in pressurised cabins for three days per week up in the air.
“I think the benefit is going to be really nice, and because it’s so unique, I think it was really important to maximise this.
“Who knows, it might give me a bit more longevity in my career.”
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton recently said he had considered taking a break from F1 to rest his mind and body, but was now enjoying the current “part-sabbatical”.
Ricciardo explained how fans may form misconceptions about the amount of time drivers have to train, particularly when there are back-to-back European races.
"Probably everyone thinks Monday you’re back in the gym and you’re training Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, then you get to the track and whatever,” Ricciardo said.
“But back-to-back is a little bit of conservation mode as well. You want to be fresh for both weekends, so a Monday would look like a rest day, no real strenuous training, you might do some stretching or like a yoga type of day.
“Tuesday you might go for a bit of a run and just keep a few things ticking over, but you’re doing like a light session on Tuesday. Then you’re probably travelling again on Wednesday.
“So you think you might have a week, four or five days between races, but it’s actually really just one day to do something, and the other two are either travelling or resting.”