Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko recently revealed that Yuki Tsunoda has been working with a psychologist to temper his anger when in an F1 car.

Tsunoda has earned a reputation in his season and a half in F1 with AlphaTauri as a fiery, hot-headed personality behind the wheel, but someone who couldn’t contradict this any further out of the car.

The Japanese Honda junior driver recently revealed that, not only had he been working with a Red Bull-assigned psychologist recently but, he has already worked with one in F2 in order to mellow his in-the-moment frustration. Tsunoda describes what potentially led to his costly collision with teammate Pierre Gasly at the British GP as getting “quite overheated… especially my brain.”

Several Formula 1 drivers have openly admitted they have been, or are currently, working with psychologists to help them cope with the on and off-track stresses of racing, or to extract the maximum psychologically from the driver. Sporting success is often talked of as more psychological than the outsider might realise.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was the first to speak publicly on the matter when he first joined F1, and the likes of George Russell soon followed suit. These were crucial moments for the championship in this respect, as talk of mental health and psychology has always been a moot point between drivers and teams in the past – practically seen as a weakness in rivals.

With reigning champion and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen seen to be similarly prone to frustration on the radio, and post-race thinking back to Brazil 2018, he was asked whether he has worked with a psychologist and whether Marko has ever asked the Dutchman to keep his cool in the car. He freely admits that he gets “a bit upset” at times over the team radio but reiterates that it does not impact his performances.

“No, I didn’t work with anyone, but I of course over the years… you look back at what you can do better, right, and I don’t think it helps the whole team if you come in really upset in a practice session or whatever because then everyone starts to be a bit nervous, and I think that doesn’t help the overall performance,” Verstappen explained.

“But also, you know, I still sometimes get a bit upset on the radio. I don’t think it influences my performance but it’s more about if things don’t go well, if something is badly executed or I have a problem. And I think if the day comes that I’m not going to be upset about these things anymore, then I’m not interested in the sport anymore.

“So for me, it’s also because I care about my result and I care about what I’m delivering or performing at the weekend that I sometimes get upset about these things, but it’s not influencing my performance during the race. But of course the way you work throughout the weekend is you try and be as calm as you can and some people are a bit more calm, some people are a bit more explosive. That’s how it works but you can always work on these things.”

Haas’ Kevin Magnussen believes drivers should freely speak to others in order to improve themselves mentally and suggests that psychologists are not the only go-to source of improvement and comfort in certain situations.

“Depends on the situation but there is emotion and you get annoyed sometimes, and you get excited,” Magnussen says. “If there’s stuff that you can improve, why not try to speak to people, whether it be people in the team, friends, psychologists, anything that helps. Whatever you need, I guess.”

Magnussen asserts that “I don’t know” what his radio manner is like, when asked whether he had ever become overly frustrated on the radio. “I haven’t thought about it. I can get angry, of course, and excited. I feel certainly I’m a more emotional person inside the car than I am outside of the car but I guess that makes good sense in many ways.”

French GP home-hero Esteban Ocon says that “it’s not easy to stay level, calm when situations are very heated,” as situations within the car are crucial – “you can lose everything or win everything.”

I guess the most important though, is in this situation, how you come back to yourself, you know, just after that?” Ocon continued. “And yeah, I know, in my case this is things I’ve been working on for a while, before I’ve got to F1, with a lot of different exercises, just working on the pressure. But yeah, people just react differently to different things happening to them. And the most important [thing] for us is to perform under these pressures.”

It is worth noting how the F1 broadcast delays team radio messages in order to cover any inappropriate language, and does therefore pick and choose only the most dramatic and noteworthy radio clips. Often, the message can be easily misinterpreted.

“I think you need to find a balance, an in-between point,” Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz says in regards to frustration and the desire to perform. “I think there’s no harm in sometimes being a bit excited on the radio and keep making your point. Making sure that you’re making a point, and people take it, and there’s other times that you need to give the team calmness and trust.

“And I think in F1, if there’s something I’ve learned over the years is how to try and find that balance with when to be a bit more agitated or when to be a bit more calm and it comes with experience. I remember in my first couple of years in Formula 1 I could be too calm on the radio and not make my point through, or I could be too excited and make no sense about what I was talking, and being excited and help the team in taking the right decision or wrong. So I think it all depends on the moment.”

Here’s F1 drivers on Paul Ricard, Spa