4th December 2023

There could solely be 20 Components 1 drivers on observe at any given time, however there are numerous folks behind the worldwide racing spectacle.

Michael Italiano holds the necessary place of a efficiency coach, tasked with placing drivers in the most effective bodily and psychological state potential to realize success.

After 5 years of teaching fellow Australian and shut buddy Daniel Ricciardo, Italiano will likely be working with a brand new driver this 12 months – AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.

With the beginning of the 2023 F1 season lower than a month away, the arduous work is already effectively underway.

MORE: Why Oscar Piastri is ‘not involved’ about adjusting to life at McLaren

Making the leap to the health trade

While well being and health have been of curiosity from a younger age, Italiano truly went into the engineering subject straight after highschool.

It was solely after a number of years of workplace work that he made the choice to pursue a profession in health.

“To be sincere, health was only a ardour of mine. And I at all times had this wonderful considered turning a ardour into my profession,” Italiano advised The Sporting Information.

“I do know that is not at all times the case with lots of people. Generally together with your ardour, you may’t flip it right into a profession and one thing that you could dwell off.

“In order that was type of the place I made a decision ‘Okay, grasp on a second, would I be blissful if I am in an workplace for the subsequent 10 to 20 years?’ And the reply was fairly clear – the reply was no.”

Italiano constructed his clientele as a private coach from scratch, usually working earlier than and after his day job, totalling as much as 14 hours a day.

His efforts finally paid off, as he was capable of work full-time within the trade earlier than his sudden transfer to the world of F1. 

“There have been lengthy days of simply grafting and clearly attempting to make a profession out of it,” he added.

“And I am very grateful that I did as a result of I by no means thought I might be the place I’m now.”

The 2017 career-altering name

Italiano’s transition from workplace employee to F1 coach did not occur in a single day, however a telephone name from Daniel Ricciardo definitely accelerated it.

Throughout his fourth season at Purple Bull, Ricciardo reached out to Italiano and requested if he wished to affix him as a coach, starting in 2018.

Each Perth locals, the pair met by way of mutual associates as 12-year-olds. 

Italiano’s preliminary response to the chance was considered one of enthusiasm and consideration.

“It was a sense of pleasure, but in addition, I did not need to get forward of myself,” he defined.

“It was clearly an thought in his head, which was incredible. However I wished to make it possible for it may work on each side – I did not need to simply be that one who is simply a part of the entourage, however not truly making a distinction.

“That was the entire level of why I transitioned to turn out to be a coach. It’s so rewarding to assist folks change their lives and higher themselves … so I wished to make it possible for once I sat down with Daniel (later that 12 months) I may truly make a distinction and assist him do higher within the sport.”

Travelling the world with a mate undoubtedly has its perks, however Italiano additionally needed to stability being a buddy while being a critical coach.

Their relationship was notably necessary, performing as one of many few constants within the eventful 5 years they shared collectively on the F1 circuit.

They spent one 12 months at Purple Bull earlier than Ricciardo’s two-season stint at Renault, adopted by two years at McLaren.

“One of many first questions I requested him was understanding when to place my ‘teaching hat’ on and when to place my ‘buddy hat’ on,” the Perth-born coach mentioned.

“I additionally needed to ask him to make sure that he respects me as a coach, as a result of I do know he respects me as a buddy. However there additionally needs to be a component of respect for me as a coach.

“I suppose I did not actually know the way it was going to go, but it surely truly was fairly seamless. He knew when my tone was critical and I used to be agency, after which he knew once I was being a buddy.”

New F1 problem awaits

Following Ricciardo’s break up with McLaren on the finish of final season and his current transfer to Purple Bull as a 3rd driver, Italiano has discovered himself in a brand new position for the upcoming season.

He has now turn out to be the efficiency coach of AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda.

Tsunoda is coming into his third season in F1, having completed 14th and 17th within the constructors’ standings in 2021 and 2022, respectively. 

His expertise, age and character are all significantly completely different to Ricciardo, however Italiano is wanting ahead to the change.

“(Tsunoda and Ricciardo) are positively completely different characters, however I believe that is a part of being a coach,” he mentioned.

“That you must be versatile, and it is advisable be versatile with the athletes that you’ve got in your palms.

“Yuki is rather a lot youthful than Daniel – he is 22. So he is nonetheless figuring himself out in Components 1.

“He comes from a background the place he isn’t used to the European life-style, so he is additionally needed to regulate to that. He is had a number of adversity and he is handled it rather well.

“I am truly actually excited to now tackle a youthful driver and nearly nurture him in a manner … give him my expertise as an older individual, being 10 years older than him.

“And I need to tackle a bit of bit extra of a mentoring position and assist him get by way of life, determine himself out and make it possible for he is enhancing in Components 1.”

Italiano and Tsunoda have already spent a very good period of time collectively forward of the brand new season.

The pair had a two-week coaching camp in Dubai lately, which noticed Italiano run his new driver by way of intense days, specializing in not simply energy and conditioning, however constructing a relationship.


A typical day at Michael Italiano’s two-week Dubai F1 coaching camp with Yuki Tsunoda

  • Get up
  • Breakfast
  • Out of doors stroll
  • Mobility work
  • Fitness center energy session
  • Distinction water remedy
  • Lunch
  • Calm down/pool
  • Cardio/neck/conditioning session
  • Sauna
  • Bathe
  • Dinner

Working with a brand new driver and group additionally means new ambitions and targets.

Tsunoda’s contract with AlphaTauri expires on the finish of this season, so there may be loads of incentive for the younger Japanese racer to carry out. 

Nonetheless, the distinctive nature of F1 – and motorsport generally – signifies that the automotive’s design, reliability and general velocity have a major influence on a driver’s capacity to compete in races.

As Italiano defined, this makes goal-setting removed from simple.

“It is an fascinating one as a result of outcomes are the simplest approach to measure success,” he mentioned.

“However sadly in Components 1, if the automotive is not aggressive, it is very arduous then to know what a very good end result or profitable result’s. So, I’d say it’s most likely a bit too early to inform [what our ambitions are for 2023]. 

“However I believe the plain metric is ensuring that he is very aggressive together with his teammate. He has a really sturdy teammate this 12 months in Nyck de Vries, who could be very skilled.

“So the aim can be to be faster than Nyck, which will likely be very difficult but it surely’s one thing that we’re up for.

“I believe that is the preliminary aim – embed himself as a very good driver and beat his teammate to begin with,  after which let’s transfer from there.”

Balancing life as a part of the F1 travelling circus

The calls for of being a full-time F1 efficiency coach sound like sufficient on one individual’s plate, proper?

Nicely, seemingly not for Italiano. 

On high of his F1 work, the Australian runs his personal enterprise remotely, serving to purchasers construct wholesome life by way of personalised coaching plans.

He works with a group and specialises in energy and high-intensity interval coaching.

His enterprise commitments imply his days are jam-packed, having to cope with time zone challenges as a consequence of common worldwide journey.

Italiano begins his days by practising what he preaches – stretching and a exercise takes precedence most mornings earlier than he does some admin and solutions emails from in a single day.

He’ll then take care of his essential athlete for almost all of the day, adopted by a couple of hours engaged on his personal enterprise within the night.

Italiano admitted that his schedule can get overwhelming at instances, however believes having a dedication exterior of F1 helps him deal with the emotional aspect of life on the circuit.

“I am nonetheless attempting to grasp that stability [of F1 and business commitments],” he defined.

“However my enterprise is nice as a result of it provides me a little bit of an outlet exterior of F1 … it is good to have one thing to try this type of takes your thoughts off it.

“It may be a little bit of a rollercoaster of feelings, particularly when outcomes are going up and down. You do really feel such as you’re competing (alongside) the motive force, so that you do really feel the losses, and also you do really feel the wins.”

Regardless of the chaotic and consuming nature of his life, Italiano usually finds time to understand the surreal nature of his job.

This 12 months will mark his sixth season in F1, and the joys of the competitors has nonetheless not gotten previous.

“I at all times pinch myself. The moments once I normally pinch myself are once I’m on the grid earlier than the race and lights out,” he mentioned.

“It is at all times an incredible expertise when all of the vehicles activate and the gang begins to begin to cheer.

“The adrenaline is pumping, you get goosebumps … it is fairly superior, I will not lie.

“It is one thing that I positively have not taken as a right, for certain. There are moments all year long when your physique does want a relaxation and you may’t await the mid-season break and you may’t await the tip of the season.

“However you would not substitute it for anything.”

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