PEOPLE: PIERRE BALEYDIER
Name: Pierre Baleydier
Formula 1 cars are lovingly cared for by armies of mechanics and engineers, each person responsible for a specific part of the machine but drivers have often been overlooked. It was not until the early 1980s that teams began to employ people to make sure that the drivers were always in a state of fitness to give 100%.
One of the pioneers in F1 health was French osteopath Pierre Baleydier who, along with Austrian Willy Dungl, brought a new science to the world of F1 racing.
In fact Baleydier was not the first fitness guru in F1, but replaced Jean-Pierre Moreau, who had been brought into F1 by Renault Sport. Baleydier replaced him in 1982, at a time when drivers were being subjected to increasing G-forces thanks to turbocharged engines and ground-effect chassis.
Baleydier had some background in sport, having worked with world class French wrestler Daniel Robin in 1968 and with the French national canoeing team in 1977. When he joined Renault Sport he looked after drivers Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux and he would remain associated to Prost until the Frenchman retired from driving, a quadruple World Champion, at the end of 1993.
Baleydier has a host of different responsibilities: he massages drivers between sessions to ensure that their muscles are not damaged by the bumps and the G-forces; he watches what they eat and drink to make sure that the meals are balanced and healthy. To some extent he is also something of a guru, making drivers aware of their bodies and what they can achieve. Many in F1 are skeptical of the value of such things but Baleydier uses elements of a Chinese martial art called Wu Shu to help the drivers prepare mentality for the races and learn how to concentrate deeply. Some drivers think he is a miracle worker, others go their own way.
In addition to Prost, Baleydier has also worked with drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Thierry Boutsen, Jacques Laffite, Derek Warwick and Martin Brundle. He was also involved in the Albertville Winter Olympic Games, advising the world record holder in the flying kilometer downhill skiing Michael Pruffer. In 1995 he went to work for the Williams team with drivers Damon Hill and David Coulthard.
Since 1998 he has worked with Prost Grand Prix.