High Performance in Formula 1 with Aleix CasanovasAug 26, 2022
Have you ever wondered what goes into being a Formula One Champion? Alex Casanovas has the insights.
This week I sat down and interviewed Aleix Casanovas. Aleix is the incredible Performance Coach to George Russell, driver for Formula 1 Team Mercedes.
Aleix grew up in a small town near Barcelona. He spent a lot of his time outdoors from a young age playing many sports. During his late teens and early twenties, Aleix had the opportunity to travel and race Motorcycles at a very competitive level.
Aleix was never the best student in school, and he never thought he would go on to study a Masters in Sports Sciences. His mother suggested that he go to University, and he reluctantly agreed to it. It only took a few months until he had fallen in love with his studies.
Aleix went on to land a job with Hintsa. Hintsa is the world’s leading, evidence-based coaching company, helping top athletes and business professionals achieve sustainable success. He then started working with a young George Russell, who is now the lead driver for Team Mercedes.
My top take aways from this interview were:
- Physical strength really impacts our mental capacity. Every system is interconnected in our bodies.
- Formula 1 drivers focus on the 1%. They focus on every single detail.
- Relationships are incredibly important. Spend time with people that you need to have great relationships with. Make time and spend quality time with these people.
- Set task goals rather than result goals. Focus on your zone of influence. What are you measuring? What are you aiming towards? Start to focus on things that are within your control.
- Coaching needs patience and consistency. When you rush things, you never get a great outcome.
- Use small windows. Use small gas in your day to allow yourself to rest and recover a little. Tell jokes. Take naps. Meditate. Do little things throughout your day to de-stress.
- Learn to love what you do.
Aleix Casanovas, James Laughlin
James Laughlin 00:00
Welcome to lead on purpose. I'm James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician, and now an executive coach to global leaders and high performers. In every episode, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you lead your life and business on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show.
Would you like to connect personally with some of my podcast guests? They are arguably some of the most influential leaders and high performers on the planet. Each month, members of HPC, my high performer's club, get to connect with a leadership titan in an intimate question and answer. They also get access to powerful high-performance leadership coaching, and monthly masterminds. There are only 20 members at any given time, would you like to come and join us? You can apply by emailing [email protected]. That's Caroline, C A R O L I N [email protected]. And put in the subject line HPC Apply. Caroline will get back to you with the application process. Just remember, everything rises and falls on leadership.
James Laughlin 01:20
Formula One is the epitome of high performance. Today we get to sit down and chat with someone from Team Mercedes. Team Mercedes has two drivers, one being George Russell. Today, we have the good fortune of chatting to Aleix Casanovas, who is George's coach. So, you're going to get an insight as to what it looks like to coach someone who's a leader in one of the top high-performance fields in the world. So, I want you to sit back, enjoy, take some notes, and please share this with a friend.
James Laughlin 02:07
Aleix, a massive welcome to The Lead on Purpose Podcast.
Aleix Casanovas 02:12
Thank you. Thank you for having me on.
James Laughlin 02:14
Absolute pleasure. I mean, I know it's right smack bang in the middle of your crazy season. You're getting ready to head to Azerbaijan tomorrow for the Grand Prix. So, thank you very much for making the time.
Aleix Casanovas 02:26
No, thank you. Thank you for inviting me. I'm sure we'll have an interesting chat. And yeah, looking forward to it.
James Laughlin 02:31
Oh, absolutely. I mean, I geek out on high performance and leadership. It's what I love, it's what I live, and to get a chance to sit with you and talk about your experience. So, high performance from the physical side and also from the mental side is just fantastic. So, let's start from the start. Let's start with where you began. And your journey into high performance began. So as a kid, you know, what were your interests and what's taking you to where you are now?
Aleix Casanovas 02:59
Yeah, good question. I often tell people that I was really lucky, I grew up in a small town, a really small town near Barcelona. To go to school, I had to cycle through the forest to get to school, which now looking back, I was very, very lucky. Played a lot of sports. My dad was an athlete himself. He raced motorcycles professionally for many years. So, I was around athletes all my life, I was struggling with racism, and my father, my mom, and my brother. So, you know, always live that active life. The competition was always a thing in my place. We had people from all over the world that we had a Japanese rider living with us for months, then an Irish guy as well, an English guy. So, you know, sports have been a big, big part of my life. Then, later on, I started racing motorcycles, myself, and motocross, and I fell in love with it. I didn't like going to school, I have to say I wasn't the best student, I was not made to be or to sit down for so many hours a day and listen to somebody talk. But definitely, I enjoyed moving. I really enjoyed being outdoors. And yeah, I was obsessed with racing and winning. I really wanted to win. I didn't win much. But yeah, I had a short career race or a good level, let's say, World Championships and race in America a little bit. Many injuries, as you probably know, motorcycle racers. And then at some point, my mom, she said to me, my mom's a teacher and also, she has another degree in history. She said I think you need to go to university. And probably that was it. It was devastating to hear that I was like I don't want to like I really don't want to and funnily enough, I said, okay, I'll do it for you. And I'd say after two months after being in university studying science, I fell in love with it. I truly fell in love with physiology, biomechanics and anatomy, everything. The people as well that I was surrounded by, you know, they had the same passions, they love movement, they, they love to train. They love sports. So that was really, really fun. And I think by the third year, I realized that's what I wanted to do. And then I knew I liked more studying sports science and strength and conditioning than actually racing. So, you know, then the priorities changed. I finished my degree. Working with different athletes, I was lucky enough to work with some of my professors. Back in Barcelona, in the High-Performance Center, the government in Spain has different high-performance centers around the country. We have one in Barcelona. I was working with him with this professor. And then after a while, the opportunity to go to Finland to study for a master's came up. I took it, I always like to live abroad. And it was amazing. It's a really, really, really great opportunity. Great country, full of smart people. A lot of resources at the University, which was, yeah, I was not used to it. And yeah, I was there when I started working as well with different motorcycle races from Finland, figure skaters, basketball players, you name it. And I think during my second year there, there was this job offer that hints support out hints is a company, a Finnish company that works with a lot of Formula One drivers. And I applied, I did apply for it. And then I did the first interview, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh. And on the 24th of December, they told me, I got the job. And yeah, that's how I got into Formula One. My client was going to be George Russell 17-year-old kid from England with a lot of talent, that Mercedes, you know, signed up. And yeah, that's where it all began.
James Laughlin 07:28
That's incredible. What a Christmas present on December 24.
Aleix Casanovas 07:33
It was, it was I was very excited.
James Laughlin 07:35
That's amazing. And it's interesting. You talk about the motorcycling I grew up in Northern Ireland, and certainly, my dad is really into motorcycling and still is and we would go along to the northwest races, and Joey Dunlop, the Dunlop family were just amazing. But to see Joey Dunlop's race was just phenomenal. Did you ever have a chance to watch him in action?
Aleix Casanovas 07:56
No, I've never I've never had a chance. No, no, no.
James Laughlin 07:59
World-class. He's a world champion. He's passed along since now, but he is absolutely amazing to watch. So that transition from sitting on the saddle to then getting into the academic side of it. What was the biggest challenge for you transitioning from that?
Aleix Casanovas 08:14
Interesting, that's a good question. The biggest challenge for me was, obviously, when you're racing, you're just thinking about how to be better. Don't get me wrong, you do that university as well, you, you want to do better for yourself. But that competition aspect is not that clear. But then again, I remember treating the exams as a competition. And if I left the exam not being completely happy with my performance, I was actually smiling. Thinking, I'll be better next time. I go study a bit harder. And I know I need to go back and read that book. And you know, like, I treat it a little bit like competition, but then it wasn't, you know, it wasn't the same racing motorcycles like, wow, the adrenaline is insane. And on Mondays, you're like, your body needs that adrenaline, and you don't have it. And it's almost like a hangover. And obviously, at the university or studying, you don't have that. And yeah, probably the then the second biggest challenge was trying to do both. You know, I'm still racing. I was racing for an Italian brand then. So, doing both things was a bit of a challenge. But, but again, I truly enjoyed studying, because I saw every time I went to class, they were telling me things that I was experiencing, or I had experienced while training. And I always like training off the bike as well. I always liked the gym. I always liked cycling and running. And I was you know; they were telling me things. I was like, oh, it makes sense. So, I did enjoy it, like every, every minute of it.
James Laughlin 10:03
It's incredible. I love how you initially didn't enjoy academia, but then you treated it like a race, you treat it like a competition. And that's an amazing way to get deeply involved with it. It's incredible. And let's talk about the physical side of things. So how do you feel that physical strength impacts mental capability?
Aleix Casanovas 10:27
That's an interesting one. Like we talked with briefly before, off the record, everything affects everything. So, every system is connected to every other system, right? So, we know there's a really big connection, for example, between the gut and the nervous system. So, we know that if we don't eat well, we're not going to perform well, at another nervous system level, right? And it goes the same way with everything. And the muscles have such a big impact, for example, in metabolic health, you know that that correlates with gut health. And that correlates with nervous system health. There are many ways and I always, and I always like to simplify things here. And I'll put it this way. Somebody comes to me and wants to get better, wants to get stronger. Let's say they want to lose weight, right? It's a big thing. It's a general thing that people ask, right? After six months, you've lost a little fat, a little bit of fat, you gain a little bit of muscle, you feel better, you can move better, you can, you know, you can cross the road quicker. You look in the mirror, you like yourself a bit better. All of these things. And I know it sounds silly and very simple. But all of these things will make you feel better. And it's a snowball effect. But like, again, going back, we understand more and more and more, that being healthy in every area will affect other systems if that makes sense.
James Laughlin 12:09
Oh, it totally makes sense. And what's really interesting is that when people watch, let's say, Formula One, people watch Formula One, they see the racer on the track, and the drivers out there doing their thing by themselves. And they're like, wow, it's such a solo sport. But actually, when you look behind the scenes, there's this huge team, right?
Aleix Casanovas 12:28
James Laughlin 12:30
And there are different coaches. So, I'd love to chat about the importance of having that team around you. So, you know, obviously, you've got a very important role with George, you know, what does the team look like? And how does that help George get to peak performance?
Aleix Casanovas 12:44
Yeah, you nailed it there. Just thinking about like, just to put it into the perspective of Mercedes there are 700 employees, for two cars, for two cars, right? And then there are 1000 employees in the engine factory as well. So, it's a massive team behind you, all of that people are working for those two cars, right? But then, that's, you know, we're at the factory often doing simulated training at the gym and doing marketing and stuff like that, but you don't see it as much as you see the race thing. But that race thing is such an important thing. Like if the mechanics are not on it, you know, then they make mistakes. If I always put it this way, if you're not 100% on it, you start taking steps back, but like small ones, just a tiny, you know, tiny ones. But that's what actually makes the car win or lose. And same goes for the engineers, like do I put that a little bit extra, or I don't like I'm comfortable, I don't want to put that, you know, I don't want to stay here for 10 more minutes, 15 minutes or think about it, because I'm tired of, you know, but if all that team is motivated, all that team is happy, that you're racing, you know their car, they're going to put that extra bit you know. So, relationships are really, really important. And actually, funnily enough, this year, with George, we decided that we will do sessions at the gym with our main engineers, so three main engineers, I quote him as well. So, we want them to be physically fit. So, they feel better throughout the whole season. So, they perform better. Jetlag plans, all of these, like we're actually trying, you know, to make sure that, you know, our team is ready to perform at their best. And again, making sure that they're happy. You know, talking to them, being yourself with them, like not being fake. I think that's very, very important because they, they've seen many drivers and a lot of drivers, you know, they don't want to talk to the mechanic sometimes or just being a normal person, because we're alive. And that that goes a long way.
James Laughlin 15:02
That's really powerful, particularly for the listener that's, you know, maybe in a leadership position at a company or a team, or leading a family, like that aspect of physical leadership, like when you're in peak physical shape, it's going to help you throughout the season. So, whether it's a racing season, whether it's a financial year, whether it's a life ambush in the family, things are tough. Having that physical base is going to make life so much easier.
Aleix Casanovas 15:29
Completely, completely, completely. And again, as I said, I like to simplify things. And these three engineers, if they fit there, and then their backs do not hurt, their knees don't hurt. That's one thing that's out of the picture. And, you know, they perform just for that simple reason, they perform better, they really perform better. And we know that exercise makes you happy, right? So, makes you feel better. Different chemicals in the brain help that right? So, what are these little things add up? Sleeping? Again, going back to simple things, if we sleep better throughout the year, which so many times changes, we know that they're going to perform better? So why not help them, right? Like, why not tell them what to do to be at their peak performance every weekend?
James Laughlin 16:21
And it's the slight edge, like what I hear you saying, it's like, it's a 1%, even less than that is like the tiniest percentage of the input and increase. So, to me, that says a lot about the culture at Mercedes, and high performance, interconnected culture. So, you being a team member at Mercedes, how would you describe the culture? Like, how do you feel like the vibe is?
Aleix Casanovas 16:46
For me, it's funny, because I was talking to a friend yesterday about this, the same thing. And I think George and I, we fit perfectly there. And I'm going to explain why. I've never met anybody like George never in my life. I've never met an athlete, or a person as driven to do well, as him, like, no one. And on top of that he performs, you know, that's, that's another thing. But we feel that everybody there is the same, you know, has the same desire and wants the same things. And I truly feel that I fit in this environment. Because when I talk with the engineers after a race, I feel it, I feel that things haven't gone well. But they want to be better, and they will get better. And it's not that they tell you is not if I sit down here and I tell you, yes, I want to be better. What does that mean? That doesn't mean much. But if you show, they show me that they want to be better. And I always showed George that I want to be better, always. And George shows everybody that he wants to be better. That's, yeah, that's how this team works. And, again, it feels really good to be part of it. It feels real, real good.
James Laughlin 18:12
It's incredible. And I guess what I hear is that you guys all know where you're headed. You're very clear. Like there's the vision that there's a team Mercedes, we're headed there. And how does that get spread across? Like the 1000 or 1700 people? How does everyone buy into that vision? Do you guys talk about it? Is there something that that maybe Toto or the team go to, hey, this is the number one thing we are after?
Aleix Casanovas 18:39
I think there are many factors here, for sure. Toto has a massive impact. And again, you can see it from him as well, he wants to win. And he's in every debrief. He's there listening, you know what the drivers say what the engineers say. So, you know, seeing the top person there, you know, like, trying to make things better, that helps everybody to, you know, to want that as well. But also, the fact that they hired the best of the best like there's no doubt the best is there. And you see it, you know? So, I think there's a combination. Obviously, you need to reward people and I know they do. In Formula One, if you win, you get rewarded. So, it's a lot of factors. But for sure Toto has a big, big impact in this and you see it from the first minute. You see it from the first minute.
James Laughlin 19:37
That's amazing. And being around that proximity to powerful minds that proximity to high performers, how do you feel that impacts you and your mindset?
Aleix Casanovas 19:48
To be honest, I just want to be there and listen, a lot of the time I just want to be like looking at them and listen to what they say because it makes me feel better. Like in the things that you talk about, how they say things, how confident they are, I enjoy it. I enjoy hearing people; I enjoy talking to smart people. But more than talking, and listening, I truly enjoy that. And that's what you get with this, you know, like, for example, Toto again, I'd really like to listen, just listen, you know, like when we're having lunch, and it's an informal conversation, or, you know, the top engineers at Mercedes. It's incredible to hear them speak. And, like, also, it's incredible to hear them. Think about the setup of the car. And like, they take those two or three seconds. And they come up with something and you're like, wow, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It's inspiring, it's for sure inspiring and makes you want to be better. And that's something I've felt as well working with this team. And not only working with this team but also working with George and because he performs always, right. You always want to put that extra bit. We try to be better trying to be better, right? So yeah, it's truly inspiring.
James Laughlin 21:15
Yeah, it's a culture of excellence. And it's kind of infectious. Everyone feels it. Everybody wants to step up to that.
Aleix Casanovas 21:22
A lot of times, I have to say, I think it's called the imposter syndrome, right? I feel like, I don't belong there. And I'm still very humble. And I, I promise you, there are a million things that I do not know. And there are still a million things for me to learn. But I'm just grateful to be there. And a lot of times I think about like, wow, what am I doing here? Coming from a small town, you know, in Spain, and I'm here. So, it's shocking, sometimes.
James Laughlin 21:51
I think that's such a great trait to have. And at any leadership level to have that level of humility, and just being grounded. I just think that's a great strength. So don't lose that.
Aleix Casanovas 22:04
I try not to.
James Laughlin 22:05
Fantastic. And what would you say, since joining Team Mercedes and working with George, what do you say you've learned about yourself?
Aleix Casanovas 22:16
That's a wow, that's a very good one. That's a good question. I don't think it's too recent. To say that, or to, you know, to find an answer to that. I think I've always been the way I am. I've always tried to be better, no matter what. And when there's a problem on the track, or the performance is not there, I always try to think, what can I do to help with his performance here. And I don't think that has changed. Maybe the only thing that has changed is that because the results are there every weekend, you're a bit more motivated, compared to when, you know, like, you have to race a DNF. Or you know that the race is coming and that the car is not going to be there. We're now here to fight for something. And again, like I've always, and that's, I think that's the reason I'm still working with George because I showed him, I really want this, and I really want to be better at what I do. But yeah, I don't think I've changed much. It's just you're more motivated. Yeah, let's say that.
James Laughlin 23:41
You got that taste for success. It's right there. It's amazing. And let's talk about the slight edge that you helped George with. So obviously, there's the very physical side of it. But does your role as George's coach go beyond the physical?
Aleix Casanovas 23:56
Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely. Again, performance is impacted by many, many things, especially in F1, right? It's an uncertain environment as well. We never know what's going to happen. We never know how the car is going to perform. There are so many things that contribute to performance. But obviously, my role is human performance and human performance, like we said before, as well. It has so many aspects, right? It has so many layers. Again, simple things. If we're not happy, we're not going to perform. A happy athlete is well performed for sure. You know, I'd say especially in F1. If you're happier, being happier is more important than basically being physically fit, I think. Don't get me wrong being physically fit is really, really important, and the way that F1 is going with more and more hot races like Saudi Arabia, Miami, obviously Singapore, and Monaco all these hot races. Again, being fit is truly important for performance. But yeah, a happy driver will perform 100%. So, a healthy athlete will perform. And we know more and more the connection between health and performance, and how, you know, like how health impacts performance positively. And then performance impacts health, its circle, it's not a linear connection, right? It's circular. So, it keeps improving, it keeps improving. So, there are so many things. That's why we eat as well as we can, and the right things at the right time. That's why we tried to sleep as well as possible. And that's why we try, we bring our own mattress our own pillow around the duvet, where we race, you know, we have a chef. It's so many layers like I said, so we want to tackle everything. It's almost like we've been treating Formula One with George with no performance goals, but that's called. So just we just want to tick the boxes, that's the only thing we can do. Because if we say, ah, I want to win this if we want, if we set like we want to win 20 races, well, that's not going to happen already. But we can say I was sleeping well. Yes. Are we happy? Are we fit? Are we working with the engineers? The number of hours that we need to. Are we good with the media? Are we good with our partners? You know, like, it's not live? So that sorted all of these things? For sure. Are we healthy as well, you know, like, all of these things, for sure, matter for performance?
James Laughlin 26:42
Now, I love that you're focusing on measurables that are within your control, like winning the race is not always within your control. There's the weather, there are other drivers, there's a vehicle, right? So, I love that you're starting to think, okay, we're going to just focus on measurables that we can actually hone it and drive to. So, let's talk about happiness for a second. So, in terms of, say, our listeners listening right now go on, well, I'd love to learn how to be that little bit happier. What advice would you have for them to just find a little more sense of happiness in themselves?
Aleix Casanovas 27:12
I think the first thing is you need to know yourself; you need to know who you are. I think that's the most important thing, and especially for us in a world that can be so distracting, and so- I don't know which word to use. But I remember in the beginning myself, I was like, wow, I need Monaco, all these boats and private jets going around and helicopters. And I'm like, who am I? But then you need to take a step back. I know who I am. I know what I like, I know what makes me happy. So, I think it's knowing yourself is the most important thing. And then again, I've been working with George for five and a half years. So, we know each other. And we have good conversations, and we realize these are the things that make me happy. Is not so much, you know, but again, it all goes back to who am I? And it and the answer are never your profession. Obviously, you're impacted but your profession, and it's a big, big part of your life. But it's never who you are, you are you, right? And again, going back to that impacts your life. For me, movement is such a big thing in my life that I know. The movement will make me happy somehow, right? I know which things make me happy. But yeah, I think that's a different question. And when I first heard that, from a really smart guy that works at Hints. Andy, who is is a better strainer. I remember when he said like, well, who are you? And like, well, the first thing you say is like your name and where you come from and all of this. And he's like, no, no. Why are you? And you know, when once you get it? It's not an easy one to answer.
James Laughlin 29:09
I'm with you in that I do corporate leadership training often and all-around influential leadership and how to influence others. And the first question I ask the group is like, who are you as a human? Who are you as a leader? And it's for me, it's about who you stand, like, what you stand for, and what you won't stand for, what you won't tolerate, and what does matter to you. So, I love that's the first thing that you really think about when it comes to happiness. It just makes so much sense. When you know who you are. That's internal happiness, right?
Aleix Casanovas 29:38
Yeah. And it takes time. It's one of those things. It's like everything. I think coaching in general, we just want to make an impact so quickly. And we need to be patient and consistent and it's a slow process. And generally, when you are patient you get the right results. But again, it takes time, it takes time, and you need to treat it with patience. And when you work with someone, you need to find the pace that works for both of you do not try to rush it. Generally, if you try to rush it, this thing's not. I don't think you're going to get a good outcome.
James Laughlin 30:19
Yeah, that's really well said, Aleix. And what's interesting about that, you know, I think George comes to you and goes, hey, I'd like to do, you know, three or four sessions with you? And then I'll be great. I'll be done. And we'll say goodbye. Say, well, that's just not how coaching works. And I actually had someone recently say, hey, can you work with my team, just all the individuals just for a one-hour session? I just said, Well, there's no point. There's no point-like, coaching doesn't work like that. And I think there will be a coach that will do that for you. But I truly am aligned with what you're saying. Coaching is like a drip-fed experience. It's slow. It's building trust and rapport and understanding the individual training, it's almost like marketing, trying things, testing things. No different than what you guys do as a team, I bet.
Aleix Casanovas 31:01
Yeah, no, no, completely. And it's funny because I was talking, we have a psychologist on board. And He's great. He's really, really good. George enjoys him, talking to him a lot. And when I was talking to him crazy his name. I do not like the sessions that we only have one hour and a half. Because when we have only one hour and a half, I'm going to say, okay, we need to do next strength, this, this is important. Okay. But then we don't talk. And we don't spend that time together. But for example, on Monday, I go there, we'd eat breakfast together to talk a little bit, we go to the gym, yes, we do the session, and we work hard, believe me, like he's really, really strong and really fit. And then, you know, with a sauna, we eat lunch together, hopefully, stay on the balcony. If the weather is nice and gets some sun, it's, you know, I love those sessions that you know, and you find the right time to talk about the right things. Again, if I have one hour and a half, okay, I need to speak with him about sleeping these rays and this and there's no time, there's no time. When I have no time, I just focus on one thing physically. That's it, okay, we're going to train the body. That's it. But then I like it much more when we have those full days, you know, the time you relax, you work, you know, you go through all the motions there. And I truly enjoy those sessions those days.
James Laughlin 32:33
I love that. Yeah, coaching should never be rushed. I truly believe that. And what's interesting, is that I want to chat about this as coaching is a two-way experience. And when you're in the coaching seat, you're giving so much value to your client. And in this case, it was George. But in every instance, I've for me anyway, I've always found that there's so much that you get from your client in terms of distinctions and learnings and experience. So, what is one or maybe a couple of things that you've learned from George about life or about mindset or determinations or anything you've learned from George at being you know, his coach?
Aleix Casanovas 33:10
Many things, and I completely agree with you. I learned a lot from him a lot. I truly learned a lot. And definitely, I've always been a person that likes to prepare about things, but then he's next level. He's truly next level. He's prepared for everything. And I've changed that. I feel that I'm much more prepared than I was before about little things. So, preparation, for sure. Anticipation. Again, I learned a lot about him. It's funny because he makes me think a lot as well. Like we talk about things that I don't expect then good and deep conversations about life and about happiness and what makes us happy. And you know, does this make me happier? They like there's a lot of good conversations that make me think. And when I'm driving home after working with him, I'm like, wow, that was good. And it makes me reflect and think about where I am and where I want to be. So yeah, definitely. I've learned a lot. I've learned a lot. And I've learned, believe me how it works. It's impressive how hard he works. And I've learned that from him as well, for sure.
James Laughlin 34:25
Incredible. I want to chat with that hard work in a second. In terms of the planning. What advice do you have for the leader that's listening right now and that wants to be better on the planning and organization front?
Aleix Casanovas 34:36
The first thing I'll say, the world we live in is chaotic as chaos. Chaos exists. But if you are prepared, you deal with that chaos much better. And for example, I'm going to give you again, I think things make sense, at least for me. When I give examples or think of examples of a race, I prepare every race weekend since I started with George, I prepare every race weekend, and I write down every minute of the race weekend, what shall we do them? And believe me half of the things, I don't do it, either don't do it, or I don't do it then. But if I need it, it's there. And it's chaotic, like a race like Monaco, the last race in Monaco, it started raining, right at the start. If I don't have extra clothes with me, I'm screwed, right? If I don't have drinks ready, if I don't have energy gels ready, when the red flag comes, I won't be prepared for that chaos. So be prepared, no matter what. And probably you won't use that list or however you want to do it. But again, we live in a chaotic environment, and being prepared is the best thing you can do, I think, in my opinion.
James Laughlin 35:59
Oh, it's such great advice. Yeah, I really believe in planning tomorrow, today. So, before you get to bed, just like go through that list, write it down, and get it out of your head onto the page. Thank you for sharing that that kind of reinforces everything. And the hard work side of things. So, George is a hard worker, clearly, you're a real hard worker, you wouldn't be sitting where you were if you didn't work really hard. So, with that, obviously, comes the chance of burnout, overwhelmed, stress, anxiety, all that stuff. So as his coach and for yourself as well, how do you ensure that rest? And recuperation? How do you kind of schedule that?
Aleix Casanovas 36:36
Yeah, I'm going to give you the funny example first, and then we'll go through serious stuff. So, as I said, I prepare every weekend, right. And I know which day is going to be busier, which day, he's going to spend more time with the engineers, and which day we have more marketing events. And I prepare jokes throughout the weekend, I put jokes in things that I know he will enjoy things I know he will laugh about. And I tell him at the right time. So, we have a few minutes that we will talk about that silly thing. Because generally, it's really silly. But at least his mind will stay away from that, I think we need to try the stiffer spring because you know, I'm bottoming there. And also, I think the camera, the tires, and I think the warmup is not- it will stop that thought those thoughts for a second or for him for a couple of minutes. And that I think it's a win. And then we're on to serious stuff. I plan naps, always throughout the day. Not and meditation or an or meditation is such a powerful tool. Being present, we all know that. We know that naps will have a positive impact on performance later, and we know that meditation will make you have better decision-making later on as well. So, these things, you know, if he's not sleepy, is going to meditate and if he's sleepy he's going to take a nap. So, adding those small, using small windows throughout the day is such an important thing, especially again, we'll start at 9 am. And we'll stay on track sometimes until 11:30 pm plus the driving plus two hours, you know, like one session, FB one, one session FB two, you know, it's a long, long, long day. So, we need to find windows to make sure that we can perform. And then at night, I think the biggest win for us coaches, or the biggest impact we can have on drivers is to sleep on the race weekends, making sure that they sleep. And it's not an easy task. It's not an easy task, their mind is racing, when they go to bed after all that, you know engineering time, after the marketing, after the interviews, after driving. So, you need to find strategies to make sure that we actually sleep at least seven and a half, eight hours. Again every driver is different here. I'm not I don't like to generalize, but every person is different, but at least hitting those numbers right and sleeping well. So yeah, there are a lot of strategies that we tried to put in place. And again, it comes with time now. You know, he's learned what to do and what not to do. But also, there are some things that science says oh, don't do this, don't do that, but actually work and help him sleep better. So, you need to be flexible as a coach. And yeah, that's I think that's a really important thing. For an asset to have as a coach like being flexible and learning from your athlete, like you said before, learn, and learn what works for that person. But yeah, recovering massive, really, really important.
James Laughlin 39:55
And what's really great about that, Alex is that the listener that's listening right now whether they're in our athlete, whether they're running a company or a country, it's like these micro bricks, like making sure throughout the day, you've got these little micro-moments where you can break through meditation napping. And I truly believe in the western world, that's something we neglect, you know, we get up at 6 am, we pretty average breakfast, we get stuck in traffic, we get to work, we don't really take a break for lunch. And if we do, it's fast food, then we're back in the commute, and we're still kind of working when we get home on our phones, then we hit the pillow at 10 or 11. And we're just out of it. I love that your sound is like micro bricks, and even if it's breath work, meditation for a minute, or a 10-minute chunk, it can make all the difference. So, meditation is something I'm passionate about. I've done it for many, many years. And I love it. What kind of meditation do you recommend?
Aleix Casanovas 40:54
Obviously, meditation is very difficult. I think when you start, it's really tricky to understand. Because you're like, what am I doing here? Like these million thoughts. So, it's not an easy process. But like everything, if you practice it, you get better. So, it all depends on which level are you at? I'm sure you're at a much higher level than I am. To be honest, I found the things that worked for me. As an example, example, for George to work if somebody tells him what to do, like focusing on his breath now. So, we use an app on the phone for him. And he works really, really well. And for me, on the other hand, he works really well to pay attention to what's going on, listen, to noises in make me stay in the moment or actually think about body position. What's this? What do I feel there? Like, that's what helps me? So, I think, again, you need to find what works for you. But again, practice, it's really difficult. In the beginning, I think it was really difficult. Because especially now everybody talks about meditation, but it's not easy. But give it a go, like, be consistent and do it every day. And you'll get better for sure you will get better.
James Laughlin 42:11
I'm so glad you brought it up. I wasn't expecting you to bring meditation up. But I'm so glad that you did. And I truly think it's a superpower for those that tap into it. It's, you know, helps you focus better, as you said, it lowers your blood pressure, your heart rate. And it makes you know, in terms of decision making, it really helps you make better decisions for sure. And I agree at the start, it was very difficult. I mean, for months and months, this was like not fun. And I often think about meditating is not about getting good at meditating. It's about getting good at life. And it's helping you just respond better.
Aleix Casanovas 42:44
Yeah, I like that one. I like that one. And I wanted to go back to what you said about, you know, the Western world. And it's funny, because obviously, I come from Spain, and everybody jokes about you know, Spanish people siesta and sleep after lunch. And it was very difficult for me to implement naps with George, you know, he comes from England. And then there's that view that you're lazy if you take a nap. Actually, you know, it's completely the opposite. If you actually if we actually take manage to take up before the session, or before the race, we've got to perform much better. And we know reaction time to get better, for example. And that's massive, right in Formula One. So, you know, it takes time. And again, it goes back to it takes time to coach someone. But once they see the results, it's really powerful.
James Laughlin 43:36
I love it. And what about longer-term bricks? So, like a two-week rest or a holiday away? What do you think on that front in terms of a high performer, whether they're an athlete or not? What do the longer-term rest and relaxation look like?
Aleix Casanovas 43:50
It's a massive thing. It's something I've learned throughout the years. Because again, you come from, you know, you come from sport, and more, the more the better, and the more training the better and that mentality a little bit. And then you learn throughout the years working with athletes that rest is truly important. And again, I'm going to go back to an example. So, I gave George we program, three holidays a year, micro-holidays, in like, in the first half of the season and the second half of the season. So, after a race a few days off. And then obviously we have the summer break, which is 10 days, roughly in August. But every time I give him a small break in the middle of the season, he performs better in the tests that we do to make sure that he's fresh. So, we know, for example, we do a sub-maximal aerobic test to monitor aerobic capacity, so we have to match. It's submaximal so it takes three minutes, very easy. And we do a countermovement jump to make sure that he's ready and fresh to train. Every time we come back from a small holiday, the results are better every time, every time. Because again, like, we're back-to-back to back, like racist training, marketing, you know, and he sleeps well. Like, believe me, like, his average sleep is really, really good. And I'm really proud of it actually. He should as well. But this fatigue, like fatigue, accumulates over and over and over. And that those micro-holidays and again, I call it micro and it's four or five days, six days have a massive impact on performance on physical performance, right on physical performance. But then again, it's a combination of different layers, right? So yeah, very, very important.
James Laughlin 45:51
Rest is not a luxury, it's a necessity. I love that. Yes, that's amazing. And I want to talk about your leadership role models. Have you ever had a leader that you look up to whether it's in sport or not, or whether it's you know, family members, or somebody you look up to as a leader that has influenced you and inspired you to be the leader that you are?
Aleix Casanovas 46:10
Definitely, I'd say, first-person, my father. He owns a small company. And I've seen it like he started when I was seven, eight years old. Seeing that has had a big influence on my life, for sure. He has 30 workers now around 30. So, growing up around him was very powerful. It wasn't very fun many times, because since I've been 13 years old, I've been working for him. But at the same time, it gave me a lot of good values. But then you learn from everybody. And I realized now that I'm older, I'm 36. You learn from everybody, everybody you spend time with it with you gets, but at least I tried to. They for the sure influence you. And then I try to take the good things from that person, right? But yeah, I'd say my father, for sure. And then a couple of professors from the university, as well. One that actually let me go with him and see how he works with different athletes, which is not it's not easy sometimes. But I learned a lot from that person as well. But again, learn from George how he deals with the team. It's impressive how young he is, and how he speaks with everybody. You know how he encourages everybody, but in a way that everybody feels like, yes, let's go! Not in a, you know, let's go, let's do this. No, it's meaningful, when he says is meaningful, and it matters to people. But I'll go back, I'll say my father, it's definitely the most important figure.
James Laughlin 48:00
That's incredible. Thank you for sharing that. And just before we wrap up a couple of last questions, so high performance and high performers, you know, there's a lot of stresses and strains that come with high performance. So, what's your definition of being a high performer?
Aleix Casanovas 48:18
This is an interesting one. And I think about it a lot. I'm going to go back here to Formula One or sports in general, right. I work with a person. And that person has qualities. And those qualities are, you know, a mix, it's a cocktail from the family, he grew up in, what he ate, how much he moved, how many hours he spent doing his sport, how many sports he did. The people he raced against, like, all massive combination, right. But let's say you end up with this person that has x qualities. I think, as for me, I look at it, I need to optimize the maximum performance, I cannot improve his abilities. So, he's, there's a max, there's a ceiling there. And I'm trying to make sure that he's as much as possible, in that, you know, at that highest level that he has, or she has. So yeah, I think that's it. I think we all have capabilities, and we all can get better. Don't get me wrong, but we all can get better. And we all get better with practice anything at anything. But I think it's optimizing making sure that you can perform at that at your highest level for the maximum amount of time. I think I think for me, that's, that's what I try to do all the time.
James Laughlin 49:45
It's incredible. And it just reinforces again, just how important it is to have a coach. And I think as we get out of the sporting world, often we forget about the importance of having that person that can hold us to account that person that can challenge that can consult us. And, you know, I see what you do with George is being just a vital part of his success and his future success. So, I just want to applaud you. And I'm sure the listeners do as well. What you do is great. And for the listener, please, you know, jump on Instagram and LinkedIn and connect with Aleix, I'll put all of his handles in the show notes. And for sure, jump on the Mercedes, Instagram and follow the great work that Alex does with the team. It's quite incredible. So, I'm excited to see how Azerbaijan works out this weekend. By the time this show airs, we will know the outcome. But I want to wish you the best for that.
Aleix Casanovas 50:37
Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, looking forward to the race. It's funny, because with this theme again, you look forward to every race. I'm nervous. I'm nervous when I fly to a race and that, you know, it hasn't been like that for a while. So yeah, it's, it's good.
James Laughlin 50:52
Yeah. And one last question, just a wrap-up. So fast forward, 50-60, maybe even 70 years, you're a very old man. And you've got a young person in your life, whether it's a child, grandchild, or just a really young kid, and they say, hey, Aleix, how could I live my life with purpose? How do I lead my life with purpose? What would your answer be to that?
Aleix Casanovas 51:18
It's a very good question. And I, first of all, I hope I reached that age that you said, to be able to tell someone or talk about my experience with someone. I think, first of all, find what you like in life. Um, so I consider myself really lucky to be able to do what I do, but more so it's not about F1. It's more it's about working in what I wanted to work. And again, like I found the six years I have two masters so, like the seven years I studied, I properly studied, I enjoyed it so much, like so, so much. So, I think that's one, try to find what you like. And again, it's not easy. And there'll be times that you don't like what you're doing. But also, it's okay to make mistakes, for sure. Be patient, things will come. I see a lot of kids now that one thing, you know, they connect with me and how do I get where you are. Take it easy and take you to step by step. For sure. So, like patience. I'd say patience is one of them and find what you truly like. I think deep down we all know what we like. And also learn to love what you do. Learn to love what you do. Because nothing is perfect. Like my life is definitely not perfect. Nobody has a perfect life. But try to learn to love what you do.
James Laughlin 52:53
Such great advice. Well Aleix, thank you so much for sharing what you shared today. It's been incredible to connect. I'm sure it'll not be the last time. I want to wish you, George, and the whole team the very best for the rest of the season.
Aleix Casanovas 53:06
Thank you very much and thanks for having me.
James Laughlin 53:08
Hey, thanks a million
James Laughlin 53:28
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