Working with top sportspeople in F1 and gymnastics: Bradley Scanes

With the Formula 1 (F1) season in full swing and off the back of the success of Team GB at Tokyo 2020, we’ve chatted to alumnus Bradley Scanes.

Bradley, who graduated in 2009 with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science, is currently the Director of Human Performance at Red Bull Racing and is the Performance Coach to driver Max Verstappen.

Q: What does your role with Red Bull Racing involve?

First and foremost it is looking after the health and physical and mental preparation of our driver Max Verstappen, from pre-season and in-season training, to physio for any injuries and also nutrition, hydration, and recovery over the course of a race weekend.

The other facet to my role is overseeing the general progression and development of our other three F1 drivers and the junior programme which consists of approximately 10 drivers competing in F2, 3 and 4 Championships.

Q: What have been your recent highlights? And what are you looking forward to in the coming months?

We have had some good highlights this year, winning in Monaco and winning at Max’s home race in Holland were all good moments but as always they don’t count for much unless you are on the top step at the end of the year so we now have two races left and we are fully focussed on making some more good highlights.

Q: How did you get into F1? What was your path to obtaining your current role?

After graduating from Loughborough University with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science, I followed my interest in injury and rehabilitation and qualified as a Chartered Physiotherapist. From here I worked in big acute hospitals for a period whilst learning my trade at various sports teams and clubs on the side. I was then lucky enough to work in professional football before moving to Team GB first with Basketball and then with Gymnastics, whilst also maintaining a clinical caseload in performance centres in London and Essex. And then as it is, through a few people I ended up meeting Max and the rest is history as they say.

Bradley Scanes and Max Verstappen arrive at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix.

Bradley and Max Verstappen arrive at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix, which Max won

As well as working in F1, Bradley is a physio with British Gymnastics and has particularly been working with Gold-medal-winning gymnast, Max Whitlock.

Q: What did your work with Max in the lead up to the Tokyo Games involve?

This was quite a unique situation where athletes had a 3.5 year build up and then Covid-19 hit. And we had time off, time out of the gym and the post Covid build was tough on a number of sports especially Gymnastics where time on equipment is very important in building capacity and resilience to the sports' demands. So it was a lot of managing niggling pains and injuries, nothing serious but the result of building again, and then managing the training load both in the gymnastics hall and the gym.

Q: Did you pick up any advice on having an Olympic athlete mindset?

I think one of the biggest things I can take from the current athletes I work with is the ability to be flexible and adaptable. Yes they have their routines and habits but you have to have the ability to perform these differently if preparation for an event or a race isn’t going or can’t go as planned. And it’s those who can still get themselves ready and go out and perform, even if there is chaos going on around them…those are the ones that reach the very very top.

Bradley with Max Whitlock at the Tokyo coming home party

Bradley with Max Whitlock at the Tokyo coming home party

Q: What’s your advice on maintaining motivation?

I love to win. I love to help others win. And that feeling when you are successful after all the hard work is like nothing else. But it’s keeping that end goal, that outcome at the forefront of everything and trusting your short term goals and processes to get you there. Motivation then becomes habit and the habit becomes the motivation.

Q: How do you use skills gained during your studies at Loughborough in your various roles?

The skills and lessons from Loughborough have been invaluable at helping through my previous and current roles. Having the background and knowledge in the field of sport science, practicing that in classes and labs at Loughborough, and competing for Loughborough sports teams enabled me to adapt and mould the knowledge from my Physio degree and transition that into a high performing environment...because at the end of the day that is what Loughborough is all about, high performance.

Bradley also offers private physiotherapy work at Chelmsford Physio.

To find out more about Bradley’s work, you can follow him on Instagram.