Oct.8 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Heinz Harald Frentzen has played down the importance of fitness in formula one.

The retired grand prix winner, who last raced with Sauber in 2003, was one of the last drivers in the sport who was an occasional smoker.

But fitness is today a keyword in the F1 paddock, with drivers including Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg now so fit they enter triathlons for fun.

Frentzen, 44, told Welt newspaper: “The issue of fitness was and is overrated in formula one.

“I remember driving in Hungary in 1998 with salmonella poisoning and finished fifth.

“Yes it’s important, but the boys of today are all fit by default. It is the g-forces that my body could no longer withstand.

“I would need about three months to train the muscles to do maybe ten laps,” added Frentzen.