London: Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team have turned to the sports psychologist credited with helping the All Blacks overcome their reputation as serial World Cup chokers, in a bid to maintain their dominant start to the season.
In a move increasingly in vogue, with Liverpool’s hiring of the renowned Dr Steve Peters helping sustain their challenge for the Premier League, it has been learnt that Mercedes have enlisted the services of sports psychiatrist Dr Ceri Evans.
Evans, who not only worked with the All Blacks in the run-up to their World Cup triumph in 2011 but is a former captain of New Zealand’s All Whites football team, travelled to the last race in Shanghai to review Mercedes operations.
It is understood he was in the Mercedes garage during qualifying and the race to observe how the engineers and mechanics coped with key pressure moments, such as pit stops.
Evans, 50, reported directly to team boss Toto Wolff after the race weekend with his findings and recommendations. Evans has not had any direct involvement with either Hamilton or Nico Rosberg, who have been almost untouchable on the track so far this season.
At this stage he is working for the Brackley-based team on a consulting basis. It is thought he will attend races when required to, but there are no definite plans for when he will next be in the paddock.
Evans, who is a founder and director of Gazing Performance, a company set up in 1998 which has worked with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and London Irish, studied experimental psychology at Oxford University on a prestigious scholarship for foreign students, where he also played in what was then the English First Division for Oxford United.
Mercedes have begun the season in almost flawless fashion, with Hamilton’s retirement at the opening race in Australia the only blemish so far. But both drivers have expressed concerns that once Red Bull resolve problems with their Renault engine they will be just as competitive, if not more so, so the team are eager to extend and maximise their advantage where possible.
Hamilton will be going for his fourth win in a row this weekend in Barcelona as the European season gets underway. It is a time when struggling teams traditionally make a big leap forward, making Mercedes well aware of the threat Red Bull and Ferrari in particular pose to their current supremacy. The team’s move into sports psychology follows a growing trend in recent years across major sports teams.
Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, hired Dr Steve Peters in 2012. Captain Steven Gerrard has spoken of the benefits of working with the country’s leading sport’s psychiatrist, and the team have clearly benefited in their unexpected push for the Premier League title.