Race Weekend Essentials: Comeback hero and F2 racer Juan Manuel Correa

Juan-Manuel Correa, Van Amersfoort Racing. FIA Formula 2 Championship, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 17th March 2023.

Juan Manuel Correa has had one of the toughest journeys of any driver at the elite level in motorsport, but he doesn’t have an ounce of quit in him.

After an F2 crash at Spa in 2019, Correa was left in a coma after his lungs filled with fluid and with a shattered leg that has required well over 20 operations to allow him to be anywhere near comfortable in a car again. Since returning to competition in 2021 he’s regularly had to have operations during the season as part of his recovery.

But he doesn’t complain and races on hoping to do the memory of Anthoine Hubert, who lost his life in that Spa crash, proud.

Correa has made the incredible return to Formula 2 this season with Van Amersfoort, scoring three top 10s so far this season, and will race at Le Mans later this year as part of his deal with Prema Racing in the World Endurance Championship.

The American-Ecuadorian driver caught up with Podium Life to fill us in on what are his must pack items on a race weekend.

Is there one item you can’t travel without?

So obviously apart from wallet, phone and passport, because without those you will struggle! I would say immediately after that is my race kit. So I have the basics, which are, suit, helmet, HANS, gloves, balaclava, underwear.

And then one piece that is really important that actually many drivers forget are the headsets, the earpiece, the custom ear moulds for the radio. It’s like a little cable, it’s small and so I’m always triple checking that I have those with my helmet if I’m having to take my whole kit to the race.

A lot of times we leave part of the kit with the team so helmet, HANS and certain stuff stays there and you just bring back with you what you have to wash before the next race. So that’s the basics.

Then if it’s not about race kit, I would say it’s probably like supplements, are quite important. So I’m always taking a bit of protein powder, hydration tablets with electrolytes, amino acids and my multivitamins that I’m taking everyday. That’s pretty pretty important.

And melatonin, every time, just in case I can’t sleep.

The radios are quite a specific fit aren’t they, and you can’t just grab one from a local store. Can you talk about those?

It depends what radio kit the teams are using. So they’re using either Riedel or MRTC. This year I am using MRTC with Van Amersfoort and Riedel with Prema in WEC. So I have two different sets. And I have two of each, you always want to have a spare one.

What about your helmet?

I’ve been supplied by Bell basically my whole career. So they give me a lot of helmets each year, I’m very thankful for that.

To be honest, they’re great helmets. It’s the best service in the paddock. You don’t have to lift a finger, they clean it, change the visors, they give you whatever you need. So it’s really convenient.

Is there anything superstitious you carry?

Nope, nothing!

You mentioned supplements, what sort of brands and types are you using?

That’s a good question. We have to be very careful with the supplements we take because they could either contain banned substances, we have dope anti-doping tests quite often. So they may contain banned substances or they can be contaminated.

So you have to buy from brands that are tested and that are approved. There’s a seal they need to have, I think it’s called Informed Sport seal of approval. Those are brands that their products are tested.

My favorite brand is called Elite, and they sell a lot of multivitamins, vitamin C, fish oils, the basics, that’s what I take.

And then for my protein powder, to be honest, I’ve had a few different ones. There’s not a particular brand I like as long as it’s Informed Sports approved, then that is fine to me.

Anything you absolutely need for traveling

So my kit for traveling is, I have a little briefcase with my iPad with a keyboard, so I’ve replaced my computer with it.

I have a little notepad, it’s called reMarkable for note taking, which is amazing, because it’s so thin and light and I just have 1000s of notes in there. I’m a visual person so every time I’m brainstorming or thinking about something I like to take a note otherwise I forget!

And then I have sunglasses, very, very important. Reading glasses, because when my eyes get tired, I have a little bit less vision in my left eye. So I have to wear reading glasses when I’m very tired.

Then I just have my passport and a few other other things. I always fly with a hoodie. I just put the hood over my face and then sleep!

What brand are your bags?

I’m a Tumi guy. My little briefcases is a Tumi with wheels. And then check-in bags, also Tumi.

I’ll tell you what, yeah, they are expensive. But I bought one set of bags in 2014, and I still have them. What other brands will last you that long. I’ve had a backpack for 15 years.

My dad had it for 10 years before that. And it’s still like, perfect. So it was pretty crazy.

What sunglasses do you wear?

It’s changed a bit. I think over the years, my favorite that I still have – and I’ve had a few different pairs – are Dior glasses, are very cool.

Do you pack anything specific for your recovery?

So actually, there is one thing that the team has for me, and they take it to every race, which is a little inflatable pool, it’s like a recovery pool that you fill up with water. It’s very small, for one person only.

We fill it up with ice, and I dip my whole body and especially my legs in there every day. Sometimes before the race, but every time after each session, I do it. And that’s for my recovery.

What about the recovery guns?

I do have that. To be fair, I don’t always take one to the track. But I probably should. But the thing is, each year, I have to do less and less special recovery for my legs, like I’m a bit more normal and they get less sore.

So I think this year, I’ll probably not be taking that. But I could, I have a little one that is like a portable Theragun which is great. It fits everywhere and it’s quite light. So I might take it.

Any personal care items?

I have oil for my hair because my hair gets very dry. Every time after I shower, I put some oil in my hair. I have a face moisturizer and then I just use the body lotion that are in the hotels for the rest!

Is there any brands that you use that you like?

I haven’t gotten to that point. But I’m always open for sponsorship for any brands!

Is there a brand you wish would sponsor you?

I would like to get a sponsor from Old Spice deodorant. That’s the one I use when I’m not training and racing, because it’s so efficient. So that could be cool and I’ve been using it for years. Actually you just give me an idea, I should contact them!