Ayrton Senna combined the efficiency of his own magnificent talent with a precarious physical condition. Especially marked by the enormous expenditure of nerve energy during the race. It was Nuno Cobra, Ayrton’s personal trainer, who introduced new ways and training methods to reduce mental stress and increase performance. This meant combining more modern athletic training, autogenic training, meditation and yoga.
In other words, reduction of mental stress to increase the performance.
In the meantime, they have had to deal with a number of major technical developments. Moreover, the driver’s physical performance is often masked by a machine’s performance. And champions are often subjected to particular stresses, different from each other, for long periods of time.
The culture of athletic training in Formula 1
The purpose: to maintain a performance appropriate to the required stresses.
"We have been taking care of pilots' brains for a long time. Of its economy and economy that depends on the brain. Working in collaboration with psychologists on the personality traits of each particular subject. He suffers a series of disturbances. Anxiety, emotion, worries related to the relationship with the team, to one's family. Everything that obstructs a psychologically appropriate attitude to get into the car with a clear, clean mind and therefore away from the range of muscular tensions that affect muscle performance."
How to handle drivers athletic training
The ideal mix: what adds up the formidable vocation to the competition of champions such as Schumacher or Fernando Alonso (both in perennial challenge, with anyone), to the detachment that shows Kimi Raikkonen, whose body rarely signals a particular tension. In this sense, the champion par excellence is Robert Kubica, a Polish driver who suffered a very serious accident when driving a rally car in 2011: “Kubica has offered the most stunning range of data ever seen. Working on him made no sense: he was already ready, because of his own characteristics”.
After all, and for example, the life of a driver driving a Ferrari is very different from that of a colleague busy in another team.
A World Championship lasts from March to November. It is practically impossible for the rider to maintain the same level of form for ten months filled with commitments and competitive complications. And it becomes difficult to perceive a decrease, given the number of factors at stake, including the technical ones that mark the performance of a single-seater.
Behind each error, each critical result, there is always a scenario so complex that it is impossible to analyse the behaviour of the driver.
Only they know the truth, and only each of them can take a path of performance analysis, to run for shelter. This means intensifying or reducing an athletic practice as well as increasing the work on self-analysis. Nuno Cobra's work with Ayrton Senna at the end of the 1980s is still worth mentioning, even today, considering the enormous evolutions brought about by experience and instruments that did not exist at the time.