The Real-Life Diet of F1 Driver Pierre Gasly, Who Wishes He Could Get Muscle Milk in Europe

Pierre Gasly knows a lot about machines. As a driver for the Alpine F1 team, the 28-year-old spends most of his time around them or in them, whether driving the car itself or spending time in the race simulator to practice for an upcoming circuit. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he spends a lot of time thinking about his body as a machine, too, right down to all the components that he consumes on a daily basis.

Earlier this season, before the Miami Grand Prix, Gasly looked calm, cool, and collected as he walked around Hard Rock Stadium—certainly cooler than he was after he climbed into his car. The brutal Florida sun isn’t for everyone, but Gasly told me he enjoys being here and soaking up the sun. He also told GQ about how he fuels for the rigors of F1 life: his love of coffee, why he likes to give his gut a break every now and again, and his deep-abiding love for Muscle Milk, of all things.

For Real-Life Diet, GQ talks to athletes, celebrities, and other high performers about their diet, exercise routines, and pursuit of wellness. Keep in mind that what works for them might not necessarily be healthy for you.

GQ: What does a typical, in-season breakfast, lunch, and dinner look like for you?

Pierre Gasly: Diet, as an F1 driver, is obviously quite an important part of our life because we’ve got to stay constant with our weight; we can’t fluctuate too much. In the offseason, it depends on what sort of shape I am—usually over the winter, I’m building mass, increasing the weight slightly in December and January. So breakfast is quite general; I always go with eggs in the morning. I’ll have an omelet, yogurt with berries, a bit of honey, my cappuccino—which is very essential and very important in the morning to get me going. And some water. I try to drink quite a lot and just start my day with a glass of water straight away.

Lunch and dinner: When I’m back home in Milan, I have a chef; I hired him mainly for performance nutrition. The target is to give me the healthiest options without being too repetitive and boring. I eat a lot of chicken, salmon, tuna, and quinoa. Try not to go too crazy on carbs, even if I love it. I live in Milan, so I love pasta. I love all the stuff they’ve got there, but I try to stay away from their food as much as possible because otherwise it’s not great. He’ll make the menu and I’ll go with it, but it’s low carbs and high in protein. I have a couple of protein shakes throughout the day, some snacks, yogurts, and banana bread. That’s about it. But what I find is that I train so hard—I do like two workout sessions per day—I can still eat quite a lot because I burned so much. So, we try to adjust it based on the activity. If I’m on a travel day, for example, and we’ve got to fly like 10 or 12 hours a day from Europe to the States, I’ll try to be very low for my intake. But then, when I train a lot in the offseason, I can actually eat a good amount.

What does food look like on travel days?

Sometimes I do a bit of fasting, just for my gut, to give me a bit of an easier time because flying and it’s not so easy to get quality food in planes. I try to stick with snack bars. Sometimes either my chef or my coach prepares a box in advance, from what we can have access to and carry with me. Usually, I try to stay away from plane food and fast if I can and then get better nutrition once I get to get to the place I’m going to.

What prompted the fasting decision?

First, the benefit for the gut system—to give it some rest because, as an athlete, like I try never to have too much of a break with what I eat. I have my breakfast, then I have another shake, then I have lunch, then I have a snack in the afternoon, and dinner at night. It’s always quite active. Once in a while, [I’ll fast] to give it a bit of a rest. It feels like it’s quite beneficial. We use it also as a way of controlling my weight when we travel. We travel so much, like we’re in a plane every two to three days. It’s a nice way to make sure that, first of all, you always eat good quality food and you don’t overfuel yourself when you don’t need to.

What’s your go-to shake?

I don’t like to keep having the same stuff, so we go with different flavors. I always like a sort of lime or lemon-type of shake, which is something I get the least sick of. We make it with ice cubes, quite fresh, which tastes quite nice, sometimes chocolate, but whey protein is what we use. In the States, I must say, I find more varieties of protein than we have access to in Europe. When I come to Miami, the Dolphins use Muscle Milk, which I really like, but I can only have access access to here. Usually, when I come to Miami, I always leave in my luggage—they fill me up with I don’t know how many liters of it, but it’s so nice, nice.

How did you even find that? Were you just chatting with them, and they brought it up?

I came before the first Grand Prix in Miami; I really like to see the facilities and see how all their athletes work out. We got in contact with the team. I came to check the track before it was done and then they’re like, “Oh, do you want to come and see the guys working out?” I went there and they’ve just got fridges everywhere. I was asking about what they use; they showed me around and all the different products they used. I tried that protein milk. I was like, “Well, that’s the best shit I’ve ever had in my life.” [laughs] It’s quite high in protein, and I just couldn’t get it in Europe. I don’t know why. So now, either when I come here, or sometimes they send me some stuff as well. So I’m, like, half a Dolphin [laughs].

Have you seen them yet?

Not yet. We will.

Are there any other places, such as restaurants or cuisine, that you like to visit when you’re in the States or in Miami?

I mean, I’m quite spoiled. In Italy, the food is really good. Family’s back in France, and we have amazing food as well back there. Miami is more for the life conditions; I find it very nice. Most of the time, it is very warm, nice weather. I love the water, being close to water, palm trees everywhere. For a French guy like me coming from the North of France, anytime I see a palm tree, it links up to summer and gives me a pretty relaxing vibe. It’s just a very nice town. I’ve got a couple of friends here which I always visit and try to do a couple of activities with. But in terms of restaurants, I’m still exploring. I came here for the first time in 2017 for the New Year and didn’t see much sunlight. After that, I came back and then I had a more normal time. When I came here for F1, I always try to spend a couple of days before the weekends. It’s a very nice environment.

What are you having on race day itself?

So everything is pre-planned, because most of the time, it’s the same timing every race weekend. I’ll always come—I love breakfast—to the track. The chefs here always cook my same omelets and yogurts. Whenever we talk about strategy, that’s my slot for lunch—mainly rice with chicken and a soft curry just to bring a bit of flavor in there, and some veggies so like greens on the sides. Usually, that’s two and a half hours before the race, so I get time to digest. When I get on the grid, I always have a jelly bar with some extra carbs, which I take before jumping in the car, and caffeine pills.

I was gonna ask you if you do espresso or anything like that right before.

Yeah, I drink quite a lot of coffee. I’ll have a coffee when I work out and then I have one just before jumping into the car and a caffeine pill on top of that. When I finish the race, I have a snack as well, like post-race, because we’ve used quite a lot of fuel. Especially this weekend, it is going to be very very hot. Probably going to lose a lot of weight, fluids and hydration is very, very important for us all weekend, especially on a weekend like Miami, where it’s so hot. [We] lose quite a lot of fluids every time we were in the car, it’s really hot with fireproof underwear to balaclava, helmets. You get up to like 45 degrees (celsius) inside the castle. It’s very important to stay hydrated throughout the weekend.

Is pasta something you have post-race?

Yeah, usually that’s that’s my go-to. The chefs we have here are Italian, so they do a very nice pasta. If I travel straight after the race, they’ll cook me some pasta to take with me. Otherwise, on Sunday night, we can go a bit more with nicer flavors.

Back to coffee real quick: I know I have at least two or three cups a day. How much are you having?

Yeah, it’s pretty much the same. It sort of varies, but I’ll say I don’t have less than two or three. I try not to go too crazy, as well. It’s more like I tried to have more than like four in the day. But before that, I’ll have one or two in the morning, one at lunch, and sometimes one in the afternoon. I do like it.

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