The raison d’etre of motorsport is to extract the optimal performance from every single element. But in the relentless quest for lap time gains, the untapped potential in the team’s human performance has historically often been overlooked. This is where Gemma Fisher comes in.

Human Performance Consultant Osteopath Fisher heads up Formula Health, an integrated medical clinic based near Reading in Berkshire that’s open to a wide range of patients, from newborns to the elderly. But it specialises in helping motorsport professionals to achieve their health, fitness and cognitive goals – thereby outperforming the opposition.

“You can have the most technologically advanced wing of the car from an aerodynamic perspective,” she says, “but if the person building these complex structures trackside is chronically sleep-deprived or struggling with acute pain, they won’t be performing at their best. Performance gains lie within reducing the risk of errors by investing in the health of individuals.”

Fisher started out working as a personal trainer and in emergency medicine, before studying Osteopathy, Psychology and Nutritional Therapy. Combining this multidisciplinary approach with the typical musculoskeletal aspect of Osteopathy – the manipulation of joints and restoration of soft tissue structures – has enabled Fisher “to take the term holistic to another level”.

“We take into account all of the different systems that play a part in your daily life as well as athletic performance, from neurological and cognitive function to gut health, to musculoskeletal conditioning,” explains Fisher, who coaches members of F1’s travelling personnel on jetlag management and nutrition alongside providing the traditional suite of Osteopathic treatments and exercise rehabilitation.

Her first motorsport involvement came with Aston Martin in the World Endurance Championship, before being recommended by Bruno Senna and his trainer to the Williams Formula 1 team. There she was given a broad remit of revolutionising pitstop analysis and pitcrew training, changing F1’s broadly reactive model to a strategically planned, data-informed, refined procedure.

This process, Fisher says, has been “a bit of a Pandora’s Box. We were just opening the lid of the new era of this human-machine spectacle at the beginning of the extensive pitstop analysis that you see today.”

Her work with Williams yielded a world record for the fastest-ever pitstop in 2016 and Fisher has subsequently been head-hunted to consultant on human performance with a primary focus on F1 pitstops. Since Fisher joined Alfa Romeo’s F1 team, their pitstops have been among the top two improved teams in the paddock, led by her direct work with the pitcrew and guiding in-house equipment modifications.

Gemma Fisher with Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team

“Being the driving force behind radically changing how a team approaches something critical to on-track performance makes you feel proud when you see it come together,” she says. “And the results speak for themselves.”

From interpreting MRI scans and treating pitcrew with acupuncture needles, to taking wheelguns apart and defining sensor placement for optimised pitstop analysis, Fisher’s role with Alfa goes far beyond that of a typical Osteopath. Yet this unique combination, she says, is the logical result of applying her “diagnostic mindset”.

Accustomed to investigating the root cause of a patient’s symptoms and treating the issue, Fisher applies the same problem-solving process to various applications. “You just have to know each element inside out,” she says.

"You can’t get more bespoke than your own DNA. The best part about this form of analysis is that we can guide our clients no matter what their profession or health status to take preventative action before they experience potential health issues" Gemma Fisher

Implementing time-saving and efficient technology doesn’t stop at the pitstop equipment. In 2021, Fisher introduced nutrigenetic analysis to the entire Alfa team. This “ground-breaking” tool allows individuals to be better educated about their bodies and adopt bespoke, achievable action plans tailored to their DNA.

The improved preparation and conditioning that results from this knowledge removes the need for trial-and-error diets, shines the spotlight on chronic symptoms and identifies genetic predispositions to a wide range of vitamin deficiencies and potential conditions. Empowering individuals with these insights allows them to make transformative changes to their health and wellbeing.

Fisher explains: “If you understand what’s going on in your body and why, you know what needs addressing. With the support of the Formula Health team via remote consultations, we can guide you through how you can implement the necessary changes to achieve your health and fitness goals.”

DNA test results are displayed in a user-friendly format in Formula Health’s app, with detailed explanations, recipe ideas and supplement suggestions provided in accordance with the individual’s genetic requirements.

Gemma Fisher, Formula Health

“You can’t get more bespoke than your own DNA,” says Fisher. “The best part about this form of analysis is that we can guide our clients no matter what their profession or health status to take preventative action before they experience potential health issues or endure a detrimental impact on whatever ‘human performance’ means for them.”

This use of analysis also allows Formula Health “to help more people, not just those able to visit us in our clinic or confined to the elite world of F1”, Fisher explains. Genetic kits can be delivered worldwide, users simply download and register on the app, take a saliva sample and then send it in the post to Formula Health’s lab.

“If you select the option for a follow-up consultation, we then go through a full medical case history with you remotely,” adds Fisher, “and guide you through your results and personalised action plan.”

Fisher is on a mission to improve access to proactive integrated health modalities, now that advances in medical technology allow us to be better informed about the impact of lifestyle decisions, and the opportunities such insights create to improve daily performance regardless of an individual’s life stage or fitness level.

Formula Health has an extensive team of professionals based at its clinic, which is visited from all over the world by athletes, CEOs and entrepreneurs who appreciate the company’s forward-thinking approach and comprehensive services. Why not reach out to Formula Health and see how they can help get your performance on track?

For a 10% discount on all DNA products, including kit and consultation package, visit www.formulahealth.co.uk and use the code: AUTOSPORTDNA

Gemma Fisher with Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team crew member