๐ŸŽ๏ธ Antti Vierula: The Powerhouse Trainer Behind Champions - An Exclusive Interview

Updated: 60 Motor Racing

Discover Antti Vierula's life and career in this article, culminating in an insightful interview with the acclaimed fitness trainer.

๐ŸŽ๏ธ Antti Vierula: The Powerhouse Trainer Behind Champions - An Exclusive Interview

Image: Timo Lindholm

Steve Madgwick Editor-In-Chief

Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

An in-depth exploration of the life and career of Antti Vierula, the renowned personal trainer remembered for his determining role in the training regimen of seven-time F1 world champion, Lewis Hamilton. 

Delving into Vierula's early life, career, collaboration with Hamilton, his legacy and his personal life, the article presents an understanding of the man behind many champions. The highlight of the article is an exclusive OLBG interview with Vierula, where he opens up about his experiences and shares insights into his work with eminent sports personalities like Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Image: Timo Lindholm 

Antti Vierula, a prolific personal trainer most known for shaping the training regimen of seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton. As the man behind the scenes, Vierula played an indispensable role in the success of Hamilton by instilling a meticulous training and discipline pattern.

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Early Life and Education:

Antti Vierula, hailing from Finland, came into the field of fitness and training owing to his inherent love for sports. His proficiency in physical health monitoring, combined with his educational background in sports science, laid the foundation for what was to become a remarkable career in personal training.

Career and Contributions:

Vierula stepped into the professional world utilizing his expertise in sports science to create personalized fitness regimens for athletes seeking to maximize their performance. However, his career propelled to another level when he started working with Lewis Hamilton, sculpting the training structure that significantly influenced Hamilton's performances. Vierula's attention to detail, understanding of the sport, and ability to adapt training parameters to Lewis's evolving needs contributed largely to his successful racing career.

Collaborating with Lewis Hamilton:

Working with Hamilton, Vierula introduced wide-ranging strategies—from holistic fitness regimes to focussing on mental wellbeing. Understanding the demands of Hamilton's prestigious career in Formula 1, Vierula designed training modules that facilitated enhanced resilience, speed, and stamina. Their professional collaboration soon evolved into a strong bond, with both sharing mutual admiration and respect.

Legacy and Influence:

The influence of Vierula extends beyond the circuits of Formula 1. His unique training methods and innovative approach towards fitness and well-being have been followed by many in and outside the world of sports. Vierula's commitment and expertise in the field make him one of the most venerated fitness trainers in sports history. 

Personal Life:

Outside his professional commitments, Vierula is known to lead a private life. He values his Finnish roots and often credits his home country for instilling in him the values of hard work and persistence. He finds solace in nature and enjoys spending time exploring the great outdoors.

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Let's take a look under the hood of Vierula as we conduct and exclusive Interview around his F1 experiences and thought processes.

Antti Vierula Exclusive OLBG Interview November 2023

Speaking to OLBG, performance coach Antti Vierula, who currently trains Alfa Romeo star Valtteri Bottas, said Michael Schumacher was an inspiration for him.. Qatar was toughest race I’ve ever prepared for, Bottas found it ‘extremely tough’ and  Johnny Herbert wrong to say drivers aren’t tested

Let's get into the interview

Q. What were your thoughts on the US GP, particularly the disqualification of Hamilton and Leclerc?

AV - ''I didn't follow the aftermath of the US Grand Prix and the disqualification of Hamilton and Leclerc, but I read that they ran the car a bit too low and the skids just got too worn out. It's unfortunate for the drivers, but rules are rules!”

Q. What were your thoughts on the Mexico GP?

AV - ''The race wasn't great for us, although the qualifying was good. It was a really bad race. It's a shame for Checo, as he wanted it so badly and there was a bit of misjudgement on turn one. It was difficult as there were three cars alongside him, but other than that, the Mexican Grand Prix was a good experience with very passionate fans. It was nice to see mega support for a local driver. It was, overall, a good event.”

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Q. Did you notice the altitude in Mexico? How did you prepare for that?

AV - ''We noticed the altitude in the first few days. You always do when you go to Mexico for a sporting event! You'll feel a bit out of breath and your heart rate might go a bit higher than it usually would. 

“Some people may feel headaches or dizziness as it's 2,240 meters above sea level! You'll have less oxygen into your system and you can feel it a bit. It does, however, level down quite quickly.” 

Q. How will you be preparing Bottas for the Brazil GP? Is there anything you will be doing differently for this track?

Antti Vierula on Prepping Bottas for Brazil GP

🏎️: Regular sessions, special focus on anti-clockwise muscle training.🔄🇧🇷

AV - ''This will be a triple-header of three races in a row, so there'll be no time to depart from our regular training sessions. If it was a separate race, we'd train accordingly. The track in Brazil is anti-clockwise, so we'd train the relevant muscles to adapt and activate a bit more. Other than that, there isn't too much we can do.”

Q. How did he find the conditions in Qatar?

AV - ''Bottas found Qatar extremely tough! I think most of the other drivers commented on the conditions, saying that they'd never raced in conditions this tough before. I've never witnessed this kind of exhaustion amongst drivers before, I have to say. The conditions were extreme.” 

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Q. This year we saw Qatar become one of the toughest races for a long time. How would the drivers have had to prepare for that? How about recovery? 

AV - ''The Qatar heat is extreme, but heat tolerance is an individual thing. Some people cope better than others. You can train at the hottest time of the day or you can increase your clothing to replicate the heat, but hydration is the key thing. 

“You need to develop a hydration plan in the build-up to the race! We try not to have too much fluid in the car, as that'll increase the weight. We take the maximum amount we can, and then have an electrolyte-filled drink ready to go for during and after the race.” 

Q. What is the toughest track you have ever had to prepare a driver for and why?

AV - ''I'd say Qatar is the hardest track I have ever had to prepare a driver for, but that's due to the conditions, and not the track layout. It's hardcore.” 

🗣️ Antti Vierula talks tough tracks!

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Q. The heat and humidity are extreme. 

AV - ''Both the heat and humidity are intense. The wind died off a bit towards the end of the race, and that further increased the humidity. The air doesn't flow into the cockpit, of course, as it has more important places to go! It can reach 55c in the cockpit, and when you follow the car closely, you get hot air in your face. It's horrible.” 

Q. What is the hardest course from a track standpoint?

AV - ''I'd say the hardest tracks are the ones with high-speed corners. There's a lot of braking involved, and those kinds of tracks are the most demanding.

“I’d say Suzuka is the hardest for the neck, the high speed corners give drivers a lot of work. Also Hungaroring is physically demanding, not many straights really, always turning somewhere. Monaco and Singapore are tough as well, there are a lot of corners and not really any straight lines to rest. It requires a high level of focus all the time.”

Q. What was your biggest challenge when training Lewis Hamilton?


AV - ''You try and get the best out of the time you have, and that's the case for training any athlete. The racing schedule is so demanding, and the biggest challenge is weaving training into that schedule. The training can't hurt the athlete or stress them too much. Training also can't deplete the energy levels.”

Q. Lewis is a super-fit guy, but did you have to make any adaptations to him in particular?

AV - ''You learn a lot about the athletes you're training as you spend time with them. The coach has to adapt training to the specifics of the individual, but that's something you naturally learn as time goes on.''

Q. Johnny Herbert recently said conditions like Qatar used to be “hell on Earth” but said it’s much easier now, with drivers racing at 60% to 70% of their limit. Do you agree? 

AV - ''I don't know what Johnny Herbert meant when he said drivers are racing at 60 or 70% of their limit! I think if a driver is at 60% of their ability, they'd be five seconds behind! I think every driver has to be at 100%.”

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Q. Do you think advancements in sports science have made it easier to deal with extreme heat?

AV - ''Sports science has allowed us to understand the human body more, and we know far more about it now than we did 20 or 30 years ago.''

Q. Herbert also revealed F1 drivers used to famously let their hair down in Adelaide, Australia, with Michael Schumacher “getting drunk early”. Do you urge drivers to avoid alcohol, even after races?

AV - ''Alcohol doesn't improve your performance, that's for sure! If, however, a driver wants to have a drink after a race, then it's not a disaster. Partying all the time is bad for you, though! We know the effects of using alcohol, so I wouldn't recommend it.” 

Q. Is alcohol something you urge Bottas to cut down on? If so, why? 

AV - ''I've never had that issue! Bottas, and all of my clients, are keen on training and preparing themselves. I don't think I need to remind Bottas of that!”

Q. Is there anything from Schumacher’s career you drew inspiration from? 


AV - ''Michael Schumacher was one of the first drivers to introduce proper training and preparation. His ambition to get the best out of him and his team was certainly inspirational. 

“I have met Michael before, but we've never spoken about those things. I read a lot about him, though, and I admire his passion a lot.''

Q. Did his career teach you anything about preparing drivers for races?

AV - ''It's difficult to take specifics from Michael as I wasn't exactly sure about how he prepared. I'd have to say no, but following him, and other sportspeople in general, certainly inspired me. We all learn from each other. ‘’

Q. Were there any athletes outside of F1 that inspired you?

AV - ''My background is in Olympic track and field. I used to hammer throws, which you may not believe! Injury ended my pursuits, though, so I started coaching athletes ahead of the 2008 Olympics. I still follow athletics now. I think it's hardcore work, and you work your ass off every day! There might not be any money in it, but I still love it.”

A Crossroad of Sports: Antti Vierula's Insights from Athletics to F1

Former Olympic track & field athlete 🏃, turned coach 🧑‍🏫. Hammer throws 🤾 were my thing. Injury sidelined me, but my love for athletics is undying! 💪 Everyday is a grind, but the passion is priceless! 🏅

Q. Athletics seem quite different from F1 on paper, but I'm guessing the attitudes and commitments you need to show are similar. 

AV - ''There are similarities across every sport and you need to stay focused and work hard no matter the discipline. Athletics and racing are both physical, even if they're so different. A pole-vaulter can't exactly convert to F1 overnight! There are, however, similarities across every sport at the top level.” 

Q. Daniel Ricciardo hadn’t raced since July on the weekend, how would he have managed with his hand injury and training in the background?

AV - ''Ricciardo's trainers did a good job. I'm not sure on the exact injury he had, but it looked like the training and recovery was good.''

Morio, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Q. How hard is it to prepare for a race whilst dealing with an injury to such a vital part of the body?

AV - ''It's difficult to manage a hand injury in F1. I know from my time in athletics that injuries happen, no matter how well you prepare your program. It happens sometimes, and it's tough to cope with. The athlete wants to do what they love, and not being able to do that for a few weeks or months can take its toll. You just have to stay calm and keep working.” 

Q. How would you manage low confidence levels? Would a hand injury make a driver more self-conscious?

AV - ''I can't speak on Daniel's behalf, but I know he has good people around him and he's a professional. He'll know the way to come back.''

Q. How would Liam Lawson have adapted after taking his seat at AlphaTauri?

AV - ''I don't know Liam at all, so I'm not sure! I think he did a decent job, but maybe he'll find something for the future. I hope so.”

Q. Lewis Hamilton was recently criticized for walking across the track. Do you think he’s unfairly criticized by fans and the media? 

AV - ''I didn't pay too much attention to Lewis crossing the track, but I read about it. I'd say rules are rules!''

Q. Someone like Oscar Piastri is having a rookie season to remember, how would his training plan have changed from F2 compared to F1?

AV - ''I think the training in F2 is the same, but they focus on being in F1. When you start from open-wheel racing in F3 or F4, you already start preparing for F1. It's about adjusting for the levels, as they increase the higher you get. It's all about preparing for F1. That's how I would approach it. 

“Training starts in the junior categories, but obviously in smaller quantities. I'm not sure if there is a specific F1 training plan, it's about building the drivers up.''

Q. Is there anything you would change about F1? 

AV - ''I think the format with two practice sessions is a bit boring, but the spring format is not bad. Perhaps it needs a few tweaks.''

Q. Do you have any specific tweaks in mind?

AV - ''I can't say I've thought about the rules and regulations too much. I focus on my role and not much else!''

Q. Is there anything new you have learned from this season?

AV - ''We haven't had the greatest season so far and we haven't got the results we would've wanted. We can't give up, though! We'll do our best, and the results will follow.''

Q. Having been on both sides of it, how hard is it for any driver to go up against Lewis in the same team?

AV - ''Going against Lewis Hamilton is never easy! He's a seven-time World Champion and he's a super-fast guy. It's going to be tough no matter who is facing him. You need to be at 100%.''

''He's a great teammate, and learning from him is a great opportunity. You can beat Lewis, but you have to be as good as him!''

Q. Were there times that Valtteri grew frustrated about the situation when he was up against Lewis?

AV - ''Valtteri has said he expected a lot from himself. It's always frustrating when you don't win, no matter the athlete.''

Q. From what you know of Valtteri, how long-term do you believe his F1 future is? Is he targeting still being with the team when it transitions to Audi in 2026?

AV - ''I know Valtteri very well and I know he's very motivated, fit, and healthy. He's in a good place in life and he's racing well. I see him racing for many years to come.” 

Q. Do you think he's one for the long, long-term?

AV - ''We see Fernando and Lewis still doing it, and they're not young kids anymore! Valtteri is only 34, and he has many more years left in him.” 

Q. The way sports science is going, athletes can dominate well-beyond their 30s!

AV - ''We understand so much more about the human body now, and sports science allows athletes to dominate for longer periods.''


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