Jenson Button has long earned a reputation for being one of the fittest drivers in F1, but insists that the top five inches mean as much to his preparation as any amount of time spent in the gym or pounding the roads.
The Briton, an ardent triathlon fan with his own charity event now running annually, will have a new team-mate at McLaren in 2013, but hasn't cut back on his mental and physical preparation following the departure of Lewis Hamilton. Indeed, it would appear that he has actually ramped up the programme in an effort to deny Sebastian Vettel a fourth straight crown, including pushing himself through a gruelling half-marathon in miserable conditions.
"You do put in the extra bit of effort through the winter and, because I've been training for so many years now, it does all add up," the 2009 champion told Reuters
, “The amount of hours that I do now I wouldn't have been able to do four years ago. Physically, it would have been too demanding on the body, [but] my body is used to it now so you can put more time into it.
"But it's not just about the physical training over the winter, it's about the mental training and putting yourself through all sorts. The way that I got to the end of [the half marathon] was to think about the first race of the season, being prepared for that first race - being mentally prepared, not feeling the pressure, feeling comfortable within myself and within the team.
"That's what keeps you going and I think, when I got to the end of the race, the strength that I'd gained through doing that exercise mentally and physically will help so much when I arrive at the first race."
Button has won three of the last four Australian world championship rounds, initially in 2009 with Brawn, and then in both 2010 and 2012 with McLaren, but admits that he does not know how this year's race will pan out after the new MP4-28 proved unpredictable in pre-season testing [ see separate story