Q&A with Jenson's right hand man: Mikey Collier
Mikey “Muscles” Collier, sports scientist and physiotherapist to Jenson Button, shares a unique insight into the world of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver. In this, the first of two exclusive interviews, Mikey tells us about JB’s personal room in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Brand Centre (which travels to all European races) as well as how Jenson relaxes during a race weekend.
So Mikey, what’s actually in Jenson’s room in the Brand Centre?
MC: Jenson actually has two rooms. He has his own personal room which is a relaxing area and contains a sofa-bed. It also has a television, air-conditioning and power points to allow him to play music or recharge his phone. There’s also a storage area mainly used for his clothing - for example race boots, clothes, gloves and his race suits. It’s pretty much used as a room to get ready in, as opposed to his other room that is entirely separate and used as a physio room. Next door to the driver room, there is a toilet, sink and shower area, in case he has to grab a shower before his media commitments.
"We will spend on average half an hour to an hour treating any problems and getting him ready for practice, qualifying and race day."
When does Jenson go in there?
MC: He uses it mostly at busy races, as a quiet area after qualifying or sometimes even after the race. Most of the time, at races like Monaco or Silverstone which are very intense, it’s just used as a room to get changed in. In terms of rooms, he spends probably more time in the physio room. We will spend on average half an hour to an hour treating any problems and getting him ready for practice, qualifying and race day.
Who's allowed in this room?
MC: Not many people, simply because there are only a few keys that give access to it. Obviously Jenson, Jessica and his manager can use it and I can get in there as well. That is pretty much it in terms of people that go in there.
Around the race, is it easy for him to relax in this kind of environment? Does he switch off easily?
MC: When Jenson’s at the circuit he's very relaxed. However there are a few races throughout the year where there are a lot of media commitments which are often outside and away from the race circuit. These often make for an extension of his working hours, but they are well-managed by the team and his manager, and on the whole he is incredibly relaxed which helps him in the car.
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Does Jenson bring things from home to make it feel more homely?
MC: No, there’s nothing in there that he brings to make it more homely, but mainly because he doesn’t spend a huge amount of time in there. When we use the physio room, we usually have music playing as he will have his phone or I will bring music that we can use to relax before he goes out in the car.
So, he doesn’t necessarily have any lucky charms with him?
MC: No, but when he goes to places like Japan or China, the fans often give the drivers some lucky charms and this is where he places his. Then he can read all the messages and see all the gifts from the fans when he is getting ready.
On a grand prix weekend, what does Team Jenson do away from the circuit to relax?
MC: It depends on what his commitments are and where we are. Let’s take the first race of the year in Australia for example, where we actually ate out every evening. There are certain things that we do to help him unwind. Socialising on a daily basis is important because it’s a nice way to get closure at the end of a busy day. We often go for a run or go to the gym. Nothing overly strenuous, but something to help him feel good.
It’s also important to note that he also has a few family members and close friends at some of the races.