McLaren's race drivers are on strict diets as the British team plots a course to the top step of the podium in 2012.

Jenson Button, McLaren Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes
Jenson Button, McLaren Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes

Photo by: xpb.cc

Even on Christmas Day, when much of the world indulges, Lewis Hamilton ate a protein shake for breakfast with dates and raisins, followed by beans with brown rice for lunch and fish for dinner.

"I sit at the table and I see everyone else having the biggest pile of pancakes, waffles and eggs and bacon and I'm just dying -- it's like a punishment for me," the 2008 world champion told the British tabloid The Sun.

It's a similar story for his teammate, Jenson Button. "The team want me to be lighter than I actually should be -- basically, I don't eat carbohydrates, unless I'm training hard," said the 2011 runner-up.

We want the drivers to be as light as they can be

Jonathan Neale

McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale confirmed the team's obsession, as every gram under the mandatory 640kg minimum weight can be better positioned for handling and performance.

"The team wanted to change the drivers' race suits during the season and add an extra logo," he revealed.

"That would have added 37 grams to the weight and I had a heated argument about it. We want the drivers to be as light as they can be, because that gives us more leeway with what we can put on the car."