Have you ever wondered who trains F1 drivers? Well every F1 driver has a trainer, some have more than one. Some specialise in just physical training/performance coaching others in physiotherapy but they all share a special bond with their driver and are probably the closest allay each driver has in the paddock. Chances are you don’t know all of them, but I do, so let me introduce you to the 2023 line up starting with current world champion,
1 – Max Verstappen used to be trained by Jake Aliker but in 2019 Brad Scanes took over the role. Brad’s a dad of one, and has worked with Team GB training gymnasts and basketballers. He’s also worked with cyclist Alex Dowsett when Alex broke the hour record. I asked him what Max’s greatest physical strength was, he said “his Neck”. Brad’s one of many trainers based in Britain and is employed through a company called Hintsa which provides about half of the F1 field with trainers. They’ve been big in the sport for many years now.
2 – Sergio Perez has two trainers Xavi Martos (first picture) and Jose Canales (Second picture). They, like Checo, are Mexican and they also train other clients but come race weekend, whichever trainer is with Checo, he’s getting their full attention.
3 – Nyck Devries has partnered with Pyry Salmela from Finland. Pyry trained Pierre Gasly for his time in F1 but given Red Bull employs him through Hintsa, he stays with the team and is now working with Nyck. The first time I saw the pair together was in Brazil when they were running the track on the Saturday night.
So who did Nyck have alongside him last year when he got the call up to drive for Williams in Imola? Lars from Williams, who normally works alongside team principal Jost Capito. He got the nod as he’d done it once prior with George Russell when his trainer was unavailable. With little notice he managed to keep Nyck happy and later celebrated the Dutch driver’s first points haul.
4 – Yuki Tsunoda has worked with British performance coach Noel Carroll for the past 2 years but this year, he’s switched to an Aussie, Michael Italiano, yes, Daniel Ricciardo’s trainer for a good many years.
Came as a surprise to me, but with Dan out and Michael wanting to stay in F1, he’s managed to secure that role with Yuki.
So what do these trainers actually do at the track? A variety of things including setting up the drivers room on Thursday with their balaclavas, gloves, racesuits, shoes, socks, fireproof underwear, helmets and Hans devices. They organise their meals with the team kitchen, accompany them in the garage, get them to and from the track and virtually do everything needed to ensure their driver focuses on the actual driving. What sort of money is on offer? Between US$65,000 and $130k plus travel, accommodation and meals seems to be the going rate.
5 – Charles Leclerc works with Andrea Ferrari, yes, Ferrari, 3rd most popular surname in Italy. He’s been alongside Charles side since the Monagasque entered F1.
I often see the pair warming up prior to sessions and races, skipping rope and kicking a football about.
6 – Carlos Sainz is trained by another Brit, Rupert Manwaring. Rupert is a performance coach and sports therapist.
He’s likable and calm, always smiley and one of his most enjoyable tasks is rounding up Carlos’ prizes post-race and returning them to the drivers’ room when Carlos scores a podium. After qualifying and races, trainers will normally be the first person to see the driver. They’ll arrive with a towel, drink, cap and watch and if there’s no PR person, they’ll escort them to the media pen or press conference.
7 – Alex Albon’s trainer is Irishman Patrick Harding. This is another trainer who’s trained Olympians. He was Lead Physio for Team GB in Rio & Tokyo resulting in 2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medal. After Rio he, like Yuki’s ex-trainer, worked at Arsenal and even played Gaelic Football at the top level.
These days apart from keeping Alex sharp, he works with pro boxers, golfers and even oversees business leaders with personal and physical development.
8 – Logan Sargeant has the 2nd Australian trainer in the paddock, Ben Jacobs. Ben’s married with 2 children, is based in London and it’s his first time in the F1 paddock. He knows Logan well though having worked with him for 5 years and has also worked with Formula E drivers Mitch Evens, Alex Lynn and Tom Blomqvist. I look forward to seeing more of my fellow countryman this year.
9 – Lewis Hamilton Lewis’s physio Angela Cullen is the only female trainer in F1. She’s from New Zealand and started with Lewis in 2015. She has the highest profile of this group by a mile. I did a whole video on Angela a few years back and updated it last year. These are two of my most popular YT videoes. She fills so many roles; physiotherapist, valet, equipment manager, security, dietician, friend and fashion assistant. She has a number of Instagram fan pages devoted to her as does George Russell’s trainer.
10 – George Russell. You might have seen his trainer on F1 telecasts before. This is Aleix Casanovas. He grew up near Barcelona, took to racing motorcycles at a high level in his twenties but an injury put paid to that career so he decided to study sports sciences at Uni. Since then, he’s worked with motorcycle riders, cyclists, runners, figure skaters and basketballers but nothing as high profile as F1.
A good bloke with a great sense of humour. He started with George when he won the GP3 title with ART and this year will be the 7th year of the partnership.
I mentioned earlier the trainers liaise with the team kitchen re the drivers’ meals. I asked Kimi’s trainer Mark Arnall what Kimi would eat at the track and he said for brekky: oats, chia seeds, MCT oil and oat milk. Plus he’d add real cinnamon which helps with blood sugar control and metabolism and some crushed nuts on the side. For lunch, a popular option was grilled salmon (protein), quinoa (complex carbs), avocado (quality fat) and a combination of vegetables. plus, Kimi would take ginger shots daily.
11 – Esteban Ocon. Next up I’d like to introduce you to Tom Clark. Is he British too? Of course he is. Apart from ensuring Esteban is fit and physically healthy, he is also responsible for keeping his driver mentally on track and focused. Most of the trainers I’ve spoken to say they allow their driver a 24-hr window post race to either brood over a poor result or revel in a positive one but after that, it’s back to business and they call the shots.
12 – Pierre Gasly. has only known one trainer in his 5 year F1 career, PS, but at the end of last year the pair parted due to Pyry being employed by Red Bull.
So this year Pierre is working with Brit Ben Thorne. You might have seen Ben’s face in the paddock before that’s because he has spent the past 2 years with Mick Schumacher and previously a season with Nikita Mazepin.
13 – Lando Norris is trained by Jon Malvern (pictured centre) who has worked with Lando for more than 8 years. And that’s Jon without an H. He’s an exercise physiologist, researcher and strength and conditioning coach.
His company, Pioneered Athletic Performance even has a logo on the back of Lando’s helmet (PAP logo). Of course Jon’s fit, supremely fit but that hasn’t always been the case. In his teens he was massively overweight but changed his ways and look at him now.
14 – Oscar Piastri. This year we get Australian trainer Kim Keedle back in the paddock working with another Australian, Oscar Piastri.
Kim was Romain Grosjean’s trainer for many years but when Romain left, he took up working with Oscar and is the tallest trainer on the grid and the 3rd Australian working with a driver in 2023. Hails from Melbourne and is a real character.
15 – Valtteri Bottas is trained by Anti Vierulla, who is one of 2 Finnish trainers in the paddock this year and he trains the only Finnish Driver. Apart from ensuring Valtteri’s strength and fitness, he also looks after some of the commercial activities for Valtteri like his recent watch collaboration. Speaking of collaborations, there are just a handful of hand signed and numbered Valtteri prints left at Kymillman.com. Each print comes with a digital pic of Valtteri signing that print for irrefutable proof of authenticity. Head there now and select your favourite number from the available stock.
16 – Zhou Guanyu’s trainer is osteopath Matteo Orsi. I know little about Matteo except for the fact that he used to be a physiotherapist with Ferrari a couple of decades ago.
17 – Lance Stroll works with a Brit, Henry Howe. He started working with Lance in 2021. He took over from Nico Hulkenberg’s trainer Martin Poole who trained Lance in 2020 and prior to that it was Viile Vihola. The two have a good relationship. I am basing that on the number of times I’ve seen Lance smiling and joking with Henry in 2022. Henry is also a registered osteopath.
18 – Fernando Alonso, has two trainers. This is Edoardo Bendinelli and his second trainer is Fabrizio Borra. The pair often working with Fernando in tandem as can be seen here with Fernando doing some pre-season training in the snow.
19 – Kevin Magnussen has three trainers Thomas Jorgensen, Nikolai Madsen and Jesper Carlsen (pictured respectively). Jesper trained Nikita Mazepin in 2021 but when Nikita was banned, he returned to Kevin. Thomas has been with Kevin since I started in F1. Additionally all 3 are Danish.
20 – Nico Hulkenberg. The final trainer in this group is British trainer Martin Poole. He’ll be back at Nico’s side, he worked with him from 2016 to 2019 and the pair gave me one of my favourite pictures at post season testing in 2018. Of course Nico bowed out of the sport in 2019 which left Martin free to work with Aston Martin in 2020 and then look after Lance Stroll in 2021. But when Lance appointed Henry Howe, that left Martin out in the cold last year but he’s back with a vengeance with Nico this time in Haas colours.
These sports pros are fit, healthy and highly educated. They have close relationships with their drivers and are often the conduit between management and driver.