To state that athletes are different from you and I is to state the obvious but a strong case can be made for the concept that some emotions and character traits normally regarded as antisocial – rage, hate, greed, lust, revenge, ruthlessness, and so on – may be necessary to fuel competitive fires to the levels necessary to excel in Formula One racing, hence the old adage ‘nice guys finish last’. It may also pay off for a driver to be paranoid, feeling that the whole world is against him, which, in fact, all his rivals are. Nigel Mansell was just one example of a driver who seemed to parlay paranoia into success on the track. “We’ve always had bad losers – Nigel Mansell is a bad winner,” is how Keke Rosberg, the 1982 champion with Williams, characterized the Englishman.
Ayrton Senna was an innovator in using a sport psychologist (or physical/mental coach as Nuno Cobra called himself) before anyone else in F1. Senna would also meditate prior to every race, visualizing what would happen during the race and between his car and that perfect lap.