Motorsport is the ultimate high stakes scenario and for a driver to be at the top of their game, it takes more than just raw pace and outright speed.
With immense pressure underpinning every race, each second behind the wheel presents an incredible psychological challenge – a true test of the mind.
Sitting at the heart of the car, it is a driver’s job to block out every distraction, remaining cool, calm and calculated to make split-second decisions at every moment.
The pressure cannot prevail and complete focus is always needed. As such, the mental strength that a driver has is often key to their performance.
Once a race is over, however, the pressure does not cease, and as Edo Mortara explains, mental strength is not just important on the track, but also away from it.
“In motorsport, I think mental strength is more important than physical fitness,” he said. “Racing is challenging in terms of mental capacity and you always have to be at the top of your game.
“There’s a lot you have to think about when you’re driving but outside of the cockpit, it can be a difficult environment because of the pressure that you are placed under.
“A lot of people want to be drivers, and that means that there is fierce competition. Whenever you have such a competitive environment, the demands are extremely high.
“From an early age, I understood that strong performances were a necessity if you wanted to pursue a career in motorsport.
“With that knowledge, I think you put a lot of pressure on yourself. Because of the expectations, you have to deliver and that’s just one thing that you have to deal with in this job.
“If you aren’t delivering your best, you’re basically out. At first, it can be difficult to deal with that, but in time and with experience, you understand and you learn to cope with the pressure.
“Competition is one of my main motivations and inspirations when I race. It keeps me going. For sure, I have a passion for driving but the one thing I like more than that is the competition.”
Limited practice time on race weekends makes Formula E more challenging than most championships and with this constraint, preparations for every E-Prix are slim.
This increases the importance of every session and it becomes vital to maximise the track time that is available.
In short, mistakes can’t be made and this translates into additional pressure for a driver to perform at all times. Even if things go wrong though, it’s important to stay focussed on the task at hand.
“Formula E is very difficult because you have very little time to prepare and I think that creates a high-pressure environment,” continued Edo.
“There are lots of things that happen alongside the racing and that means that you’re always busy. But it’s a part of the sport and as driver, you can make a difference during the day.
“If, on race day, things aren’t going as planned, I’m not a big believer in positivity or negativity. What is important, to me, is to try and achieve the most in the situation that you’re in.
“It’s important to have a specific approach and you have to be prepared. If you have problems, you try to solve them, and that’s the way I do it.
“When something happens that you don’t expect, I don’t think that being more positive or more negative will change anything. If you’re in a difficult situation, you’re in a difficult situation. You can’t deny that and you can’t trick yourself into thinking otherwise.”
To react to the unpredictable, a certain underlying strength, fortitude and tenacity is needed, but every driver is unique when it comes to their work ethic.
It can be an unflappable type of confidence or a never-ending hunger that spurs a driver on, but for Edo, it is a will for self-improvement that pushes him to achieve.
“As a driver, I don’t think I have an excess of self-confidence but I think that this is a strength. This pushes me to work harder, analyse my performances more – it constantly challenges me to do better.
“There are billions of people in the world and each of us are different – who we are, how we are raised and how we are educated. I just like working differently.
“You can be perceived in many different ways, but the way you seem from an outside perspective can be very different to the reality of how you really are on the inside. You should never judge a book by its cover.
“For me, it’s not super important how people perceive me. What’s important is that I put myself in the best possible position so I can perform at my best on the track.”