Motorsport has always relied on a combination of technology and human endeavour. The split, historically, was between car and driver: technology on one side; skill, bravery, and application on the other. Today, the sport has changed: technology and the driver are not separate entities. At McLaren Applied, the science of human performance takes a natural born racer and makes them… better. This is the McLaren DNA programme. It builds elite drivers.
McLaren DNA is a natural field of operation for McLaren Applied, existing at the intersection of several areas of expertise. By drawing on our business units dedicated to motorsport technology, health and wellness, simulation and data acquisition, it's possible to apply the science of human performance to driver training. Allied to McLaren's racing pedigree and its vast experience of driver development, these capabilities give us unique insight in the world of young driver development.
All of our experience is brought to bear in McLaren DNA. The programme emphasises marginal gains, focusing on often-neglected elements of preparation, such as racing intelligence, the performance mindset and an affinity with motorsport engineering. While physical fitness is incorporated into the programme, it acknowledges a 21st Century racing driver competes with both mind and body. The approach is holistic, designed to ensure McLaren DNA associates extract the maximum from their talent.
McLaren's DNA Foundation and DNA Perform programmes use a data-driven approach to determine improvement. Targeting aspiring karters in the 10-13 age range, DNA Foundation lays the groundwork for a motorsports career. Beginning the development of the driver's 'performance signature', it instils the first principals of movement, sports nutrition, recovery and mindset preparation. It teaches race engineering fundamentals and the essentials of racecraft, helping students accelerate their learning and take the first steps to attaining the skillset of an elite racing driver.
DNA Perform handles the next stage of a career, managing the transition from kart to junior single-seater formulae for the 13-16 age group. At this stage, the programme becomes specific to the performance signature, tailored to the needs of the individual. It uses the full array of human performance equipment at the McLaren Technology Centre, including F1-derived simulators, biometric telemetry and data analysis – tools unavailable to any other development regime.
McLaren DNA constantly assesses drivers. The hard data it generates is used by our programme managers to build objective, bespoke, development strategies. The guesswork is taken out of the equation, and the end product is measured by quantifiable results. Those programme managers all come from an elite driver performance background, having worked at the very highest echelons of motorsport with Formula One World Champions, race winners in dozens of other professional motorsports categories and, of course, in our highly successful junior programme.
"Racing teams demand intelligent, physically and mentally prepared drivers who maintain the highest levels of performance throughout the season, coping with the extreme pressures of the competitive environment – and McLaren DNA is our bespoke programme, tailored to meet these demands," says Mike Collier, head of human performance at McLaren Applied. "Combining our experience with the latest development tools and data acquisition techniques, the DNA programmes give young drivers the best possible start to their career, helping them unlock their winning potential."