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Formula 1 by Fabrizio Borra and Fernando Alonso

The balance and harmony that a Formula 1 champion needs to face a world championship as a key player is the result of team work, people who support their activities throughout the year. From the paddock, when it's time for the grand prix, and at the end of the season, outside the circuits. The continuity of a driver's results is due to a mix of several factors: if the talent on the track is an important component, so is the physical and mental training that is supported to compete at the highest levels.
Athletic and physical preparation take on a role of absolute importance in the history of Formula 1 to help the driver achieve their goals at the end of the year. Thanks to people like their physiotherapist and their skills, they work alongside the driver for months throughout the year to prepare him during the racing season and help him to maintain a constant physical and mental performance. Among the most appreciated from the outfit, Fabrizio Borra certainly displays excellence in his profession. Born in Brescia but adopted by Forlì, Borra has been working alongside the two-time world champion Fernando Alonso as a physiotherapist since his debut in Minardi. A lasting relationship that began in 2000 and continues today in 2018, the year in which the Spanish champion announced on Twitter his farewell to racing. Borra shares his work as a physiotherapist with Alonso with his colleague Edoardo Bendinelli.
To celebrate the career of the Spanish champion, and understand who contributes every day to his success, we asked his physiotherapist Fabrizio Borra. How do you work the body and mind of a Formula 1 driver? How does the spark strike, and what is his relationship with Fernando?

Being a Formula 1 physiotherapist

Borra's passion for physiotherapy came about through an injury that he suffered: As a young man I had a problem with my knee, I was operated on and during rehab I was trying to understand why despite the surgery I continued to have problems and from there my passion began.
Being a Formula 1 physiotherapist for Borra means not only to vote for your professionalism in the cause of the driver, studying his physical and mental needs, but also not to be content to apply what others have studied and spread, trying to understand the reason for the failures and working on new ways of knowledge: in these few but significant words you can summarize his vision of the work. It is this attitude in approaching the profession that distinguishes the personal growth of a formula one physiotherapist from others.

Fernando Alonso e Fabrizio Borra sulla griglia di partenza di una gara di Formula 1
The figure of the physiotherapist in the team is important, which is why they often have to compete with other equally important figures, competition that sometimes leads to problems that can compromise performance: the more each of these figures wants to have more consideration than the others, the more complicated situations are created in which the athlete suffers.

Alonso is a patient who tests you before he trusts you.

More generally, the therapist who works in sport must over time develop a great skill, in addition to the technical one, which is linked to the management of their emotionality. They must know when to be visible, and when it's time to disappear, when to talk and especially when to shut up. Before the competition they must convey serenity and security to the athlete (which is not always easy), even if during the competition you live the same emotionality of the athlete in the race. Depending on how it went, they must have the lucidity to find that calm that leads you to help the athlete, finding the right words at the right time.

The beginnings in Formula 1

Borra's debut was at the Monza Grand Prix in 1987. In 2000 I was part of the Minardi Team, which had a satellite team in the F3000 where he ran this young promising driver named Alonso. The following year he arrived in F1 with Minardi and there we started to work together. Since then we've been inseparable.
The relationship between a high-level athlete and his physiotherapist is by definition articulated, and, especially at the beginning, aimed at winning mutual trust. The athlete tries to understand if he has in front of him a professional of quality and seriousness, while the therapist tries to make it clear with the facts to the athlete that he can be trusted. If the relationship works, between the two an important relationship of trust is created, lasting over the years.  And Alonso is a patient who, before giving you confidence, puts you to the test. Once you understand that you have quality he follows you, although you must always be careful not to improvise ever. If you whisper because you don't know something, you'll notice it in a moment.
Un giovanissimo Alonso alla sua prima esperienza in Formula 1 in Minardi
If at a professional level between Borra and Alonso there is certainly understanding, the human relationship is equally deep: Fernando is a direct person, says what he thinks, there are many people who like it and others who do not like it, but you know that you have in front of you a real person. Careful, interested in everything, if you tell him something he doesn't know, you're sure he's going to check it out. The bond between the twos is solid and It'is demonstrated by 18 years of fruitful collaboration.

Alonso's physique

Alonso has a physique that allows him to perform at a high level in a demanding and stressful sport like Formula 1. A physicist with a highly developed muscular system, and with great capacities of resistance, reflexes and peripheral vision way above average, in addition to an incredible memory. Gym, football, basketball, cycling: Alonso practices different sports for several hours a day, practically without ever getting tired.
Like all professional sportsmen, the idea of losing even when there is nothing to win does not go through his mind. He's always competitive, even when you play cards or go to the field to do a few basketball shots. You don't leave until he's won.

We are on the starting grid, in front of thousands of people, but in those minutes it's me and him, as if there were no one there.

Borra, working for several years with Alonso, made scientific research and experiments in this field coincide with Fernando's growth on the track.  Having started the relationship with him at a young age, has allowed him to grow in every area.  As a member of a number of study groups in my field, including Technogym's scientific committee for many years, my growth has necessarily coincided with its evolution, as well as the continuous interaction with him. Among the studies carried out by Borra, one is linked to the influence that intercontinental travel has on the physique of athletes, with their respective time zone changes, thus changing the nutritional aspects and those of training.
In the professional athlete sphere, having to manage the various activities from afar frequently, given the continuous trips and through the ecosystem of Technogym’s connected mywellness cloud, has allowed trainers to always monitor the various types of training, have statistics on the current situation and adjust the workouts accordingly, having the possibility of an immediate direct communication with the athlete through a dedicated App.
The ability to monitor your physical condition over time allows you to understand what to do to improve or recover. Both amateurs and professionals must always remember that a system does not work well because it is weak, or because it is tired. It is essential to understand whether I am weak or tired, and here technology comes to our aid.

Alonso's career in Formula 1 and the best moments

One of the most emotionally felt moments, which is actually repeated with the same intensity at each GP, is when Fernando puts on his helmet before the start. We are on the grid, in front of thousands of people, but in those minutes it's me and him, as if there was no one there. Inside there is a tension and determination which is difficult to describe. Slow, calculated movements to avoid something that could create a disturbance until the moment I get into the car. There I see his eyes disappear behind the visor pulled down ready for departure. A moment that despite 30 years of racing does not change at the level of emotional intensity.
Fernando Alonso e Fabrizio Borra nel box McLaren nel 2015

After Formula 1

Today Fernando Alonso is about to conclude his cycle as a Formula 1 driver. Many media see it as a time of crisis, but in fact for Borra it’s not the case. Alonso has no regrets, in his career he has achieved much more than he expected. He was a young man who had the dream to race in Formula 1, he got there, he won 2 World Championships, he fought to the last in several races, winning many races and he left a mark in the history of this sport.

He was a young man who had the dream to race in Formula 1, he got there, he won 2 World Championships, he fought to the last in several others winning many races, he left a mark in the history of this sport.

This F1, as it is, if you don't have a Mercedes you don't win, so it's better to go and look for new challenges in other categories while having fun. Motor racing isn't just F1: last year at the Indy 500 there were 400,000 people and for a while at our first edition we didn't win. This year we won the 24 hour LeMans race, another epic race. We are leading the World Endurance Championship, just to remind you that the last few years have not all been as negative and frustrating as some would have us believe.

From my point of view, I live it in the same way, with great serenity... everything has its own time, and in my case, a lot of time has passed since 1987.

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