Formula One neuroscience

When the English racing driver Lewis Hamilton finished third at Formula One's Australian Grand Prix in March, it made him the first rookie driver to reach the podium since Canada's Jacques Villeneuve managed it 11 years before. During the race, commentators praised Hamilton's finesse and confidence as he steered his silver McLaren Mercedes through the streets of the Albert Park circuit, south of Melbourne. A few, notably racing legend Jackie Stewart, mentioned the extensive tra

Stephen Pincock
May 31, 2007

When the English racing driver Lewis Hamilton finished third at Formula One's Australian Grand Prix in March, it made him the first rookie driver to reach the podium since Canada's Jacques Villeneuve managed it 11 years before. During the race, commentators praised Hamilton's finesse and confidence as he steered his silver McLaren Mercedes through the streets of the Albert Park circuit, south of Melbourne. A few, notably racing legend Jackie Stewart, mentioned the extensive training Hamilton had been doing with Kerry Spackman, a so-called mind-management guy.

Spackman didn't begin his career as a neuroscientist. His undergraduate degree at the University of Auckland was in applied mathematics, after which he and a colleague developed an electronic device for measuring the performance of race cars.

It was only years later, after going into business with Stewart to train test drivers, that he realized "nobody really seemed to know what goes on inside...