Going Mental with Formula 2: Mental Coaching


Interviews by Sergio Álvarez

Not sure how about you, lil’ peeps of the World Wide Web, but we’re still in recovery mode from what was a mighty emotional first weekend on the FIA Formula 2 2021 calendar in the super dusty and windy Bahrain. You just can’t unsee all the drama and suspense, as is normally the case with ex-GP2. I call it ex-GP2 because that’s what it is for me, however for accuracy sake let’s call it Formula 2.

Now, some of our hawk-eyed readers might remember that we asked Oscar Piastri whether he has any specific tricks up his sleeve when it comes to mental training and just being able to handle all the pressure during tremendously exciting for us, whilst most certainly stressful for YDs (young drivers – you don’t drive in F2 if you’re old, like 26, dunno?), F2 race weekends. With not two but THREE! races per weekend being the new format. Strangely enough, it was the usually reserved and consistent Aussie driver who dropped the ball in the main race on Sunday by blotting his copybook with Dan Ticktum’s yellow and black Carlin ink. Or is it dark bluish? If I had to compare Piastri’s brain in the immediate aftermath of the accident to Formula 2 official website, it would look roughly like this.

In any walk of life, you need to enjoy that psychological edge over your rivals, but in the piranha eat piranha world of F2/F3, it’s the bread and butter of life in the fast lane. You either make it to F1 or you break it… into the European Le Mans Series or GT-based DTM so former F1 joker wild Gerhard Berger can brainwash you inside out.

We set out to work out how our top 3 drivers in the standings approach this sort of (fun) challenge.

Confided Jehan Daruvala: “Yeah, I think, definitely, like the other guys said, we prepare as well as we can, both physically and mentally because F2 is one step away from F1, there’s a lot of pressure on you. You don’t have a lot of track time and you need to deliver when it matters.

“All of that adds up to quite a lot of pressure, it’s about being able to handle it and knowing that it’s the same for everyone. We all work with our own mind coaches to be as well prepared as we can be for all these weekends.”

He’s leading the championship following round one and Guanyu Zhou gave the game away for our faithful readers: “I think we’re all mature enough (d.o.b. 1999!) to digest – duh! – all these bad moments and last year it was a good year (for me) of practicing in terms of that. I didn’t have much luck the whole year, having a lot of mechanical failures, which was good having close racing.

“It gave me the mind to reset everything and obviously I think after each weekend this year, each race, the mental side is going to be quite tired, but at the same time we have a long break to recover fully for the next event. No big issues or special things to do, but with all these races we’ve been doing in the past couple of years, the more experience you get, you just know how to digest all this stuff.”

You know what, peeps? I reckon GZ could be our experience champion this season. He’s got the power of F2 know-how and he also knows how many beans make five that’s why he was so quick off the mark around Sakhir’s advantage shifting sand dunes.

Next up is Monaco in May – that’s two more months of F2 wait, bro. Not fair: we demand bread and F2 every fortnight! Bread every day, of course. F2 every two weeks. Please.

GZ in old Renault Sport colours: photo by Diego Merino
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