Life as a Formula One driver has often been perceived as a glamorous one. That was often the case in the glory years of the 1970s when drivers enjoyed a playboy lifestyle.

But that is not the case nowadays. Kiwi Brendon Hartley is living his dream, having made his Formula One debut in the latter part of the year. With competition as fierce as it is, hard work is paramount and there simply isn't time to party like in the old days.

"The days are pretty well filled up - there is not too much time to socialise," he explained to the Weekend Herald.

"At night there can be sponsor events. We try to limit that so there is enough time to focus on the most important thing, which is performing. There is a self-imposed curfew to ensure I get enough sleep and am well-rested.

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"There is a team of people there making sure I am at the right place at the right time.

"There are close to 450 people at Toro Rosso alone so it is a very big operation."

While the days are full-on, Hartley does get a little time to himself at nights. The time difference to Europe means that they often involve calls back to New Zealand but it is also time for him to get a break from racing.

"Evenings - it is important to switch off and get away from the race track," he said. "I like to get away where I can to let the mind rest. Also before sessions - just having 10-15 minutes to yourself to visualise and prepare is important.

"Sometimes there isn't enough time.

"Warming up is important too - whether it is skipping or boxing - something to make sure you are firing on all cylinders."

Hartley, 28, has plenty of experience in terms of finding out what routine works and what doesn't.

"The schedule is constantly evolving," he admits. "I am not superstitious so I don't have a strict routine that I have to follow. It depends on how I am feeling. If I am a big sluggish or feeling a bit down it might be a case of having a Red Bull or a coffee or listening to the right type of music. I do that by feel and from previous experiences.

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"Sometimes you hop in the car and you know you are not sharp so it is about getting in that zone and a lot of that comes from trial and error and knowing yourself and what you need."

Most Formula One drivers have a big support crew with them at the race meetings. On top of team employees drives often have personal trainers, mental skills coaches and nutritionists helping them out.

Hartley's entourage isn't that big but he has made use of specialist help in all of those areas.

"Your trainer and physio is someone you spend a lot of time with," he explained.

"I am lucky in that I have a very good friend who has been with me at the races as my physio and trainer. He is very important - all the travel, all the warm-ups you spend with him.

"It is a little different each race - too many guests can be a distraction so it is about a balancing act.

"Over the years I have dealt with nutritionists and now I am in Formula One I have people taking care of that. I have blood tests so they can give me some advice on what I am deficient in. I have a training programme from a personal trainer.

"I am not going to lie, I do love a good burger - so it is not all greens and colours. Generally I am pretty healthy but you can always be fitter and healthier.

"I have all the tools - ultimately it is up to me to use all the tools I am given in my own way. Over the years I have been racing - at 28 I know myself pretty well and what I need to perform, which is the advantage of being a little older."

A race week schedule in F1
● Preparation starts on a Monday or Tuesday with a day on the simulator early in the week.
● Arrive at the track on the Wednesday.
● The business end of things would start early Thursday morning with meetings, media commitments, the track walk. It is a pretty full day considering I don't do any driving. There is a lot of preparation that goes into a Formula One race weekend. A big chunk of that would be on the Thursday.
● Friday is free practice — again a pretty early start. There are meetings before and after each session, media throw in there as well with press conferences and drivers' briefings.