Interview | Vittoria Piria

Vittoria ‘Vicky’ Piria has been motor racing since she was just ten years old, so it is no surprise to find her competing in the inaugural W series. In 2009, Vicky began working with Formula Renault, before switching to Formula Arbarth the following year where she began to make a big name for herself.

A successful stint at Prema Powerteam followed in 2011, before Vicky moved to GP3 with Trident racing, then onto the European F3 & Pro Mazda Championships. In addition to being a competitive driver, Vicky is also a pro driving instructor for Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

Considered one of the foremost female racing drivers in Europe, we got a few moments to speak with the Italian racing star ahead of the second W series race in Belgium.

Vicky, ahead of a race, let's say the night before, what sort of meals/foods are you having? “I start the meal with some salad then I try always to have a good amount of protein like meat or fish and with bread or potatoes and again veggies”.

Do you eat much in the morning of a race? “I do, many people aren’t hungry but I definitely am! We wake up very early and the schedules are hectic, I think it’s important to start off well. When at home I’ll have something sweet, so during race weekends I go with savory [food]. I find it makes me feel more full and keeps my sugar levels down”.

Are you eating much after racing? Can you eat pretty much anything you like? “Not really, I shouldn’t really eat what I want... but after a race I am always in a good mood for pizza! My bad!”

Does your diet change much over the year? Are you taking on-board more calories during the summer or winter? “I am finding my diet is quite balanced, I had been going through many different diets, but now I try to eat balanced [meals] and include veggies at every meal, that would be my go-to rule. During winter I train much harder so I try to get a bit more protein but then my diet stays mostly the same”.

Do you eat much when you are training; do you have a protein bar or shake within easy reach? “I try to eat whole foods and try to get my protein always by meals. Protein bars are definitely a good solution for me when I am traveling and need to snack or if I am craving something sweet”.

How important is hydration to an athlete at your level? “Very important. Especially when it comes to simply water. If I don’t drink enough water during races or test days I end up with a crazy headache for 2/3 days… This would happen also when I’m working or my everyday life. It’s probably for me the most important thing”.

Max Lahiff (Pro rugby player here in the UK) came down to our studio and said sleep and nutrition are king for recovery, do you find the same? “For sure. Sleep is incredibly important and understanding how much you need. I find I need 8 hours, unfortunately this is very hard to get during racing due to schedules”.

What are the most common meals in your house? Do you have to make sure you're eating XX amount of calories per day/week? “The most common meal in my house obviously is pasta! My family has it everyday.. I do not eat it everyday but have it 2/3 times a week and try to have wholegrain. I don’t track calories, I have done it in the past but I don’t think it’s a good idea, you end up thinking about your calorie tracking and you stop thinking about yourself”.

What is your 'cheat' recipe? “Sushi and icecream, proper italian icecream!”

Is there anything you actively avoid? “Sugar”.

Thank you for talking to us, we just have a few more questions away from nutrition… Do you have a favourite place to race? “I’d say Spa-Francorchamps, Montecarlo, Mugello, Jerez”

Is there a particular race that stands out in your career so far? “My first podium in F3 European in France”.

Do you have any pre-race rituals i.e. putting your left sock on first, or always wearing the same sunglasses? “I go with how I feel, sometimes I feel I need to warm up and activate my body and feel energized. Sometimes I’d rather stay chilled with some good music”.

What piece of equipment is in your bag en-route to a race, that people might be surprised about (for example, a hockeyball for stretching, or a particular toiletry, or piece of clothing)? “I bring pressure balls, a comfy tracksuit and lately I have some essential oils (menthol and eucalipto) and I put a couple of drops on my helmet, [so it] smells fresh”