It’s pretty naive to think that there are no performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) that could help to improve the performance of an F1 driver; we’re not talking about cannabis or cocaine here, or suggesting that anyone is driving around on any sort of ‘high’. “Drugs” covers any chemical that creates a specific effect when put in the body.
Let’s say the critical factor in success during race weekends is the driver’s skill, and that is a combination of natural talent and learned experience. Wouldn’t you say that a chemical that increased concentration would be helpful? Perhaps one that reduced stress levels, helping the taker to think more clearly? Both these are readily available.
On a wider scale, over the last 20 years it’s become very clear that the drivers must all be super-fit. Of course, they all spend huge amounts of time in the gym, running, cycling and so on. There are huge numbers of products available that will “help” that training. Of course some are legal, and some very much banned, such as the EPO that has given cycling such a bad name. And around these there are masking agents to cover the traces of the drugs, diuretics to help with weight loss…
I’m not saying that F1 drivers are using banned substances to improve their performances. But the products are widely (clandestinely) available. Certain drivers are even friends with participants in other sports who have been banned for their use. I’d go so far as to say it’s extremely naive to simply assume that F1 is a clean sport without proper testing – in and out of competition.