Formula 1 is a very competitive sport, and drivers should be aware of the challenges involved in reaching the top.
The first thing you need to keep in mind if you want to get into the sport is that you must have total commitment for it if you truly want to achieve success. Formula 1 can seem like a dream job, but becoming an experienced driver may take years of experience and practice. The following are the steps you must take if you want to get into Formula One;
Most of the current crop of Formula 1 racing drivers started their careers in karting. Children as young as six can take up karting and learn some of the basics of racing including the racing line, race tactics, overtaking and of course, how to drive. Starting out in karting is a good preparation for the next steps in a young racer’s career which will likely see him or her progress each season into higher categories of races and into faster and more powerful cars. There are lots of possible routes into Formula 1 but often the path starts with karting and then progresses to Formula Ford, GP3, Formula 3, GP2 and if you’re lucky enough to make it all the way, Formula 1. The number of years a young driver needs to spend learning their craft in each category depends on their talent and success, but whilst natural talent, dedication and hard work will take you a long way, it’s important to remember that very few make it all the way to the top.
Take Classes at a Racing School
Another possible starting point on your career journey to F1, is to join a racing school. Taking a class at an accredited racing school is one of the quickest ways to discover if this sport is for you. You need to learn some basics of racing before starting your journey. You may need to spend several hours a week practising and it may be costly to train. You will also need a valid driving licence in order to take professional racing classes, and if you are a minor, your parents must also consent. In order to take racing classes, you must have a licence to operate a manual car.
Upon the completion of the racing school classes, the school will send a letter of recommendation on your behalf to the relevant racing organisation. This will enable you to register and compete in racing events.
Enter the Amateur School Race Series
The amateur school race series can be regarded as the entry-level F1 race series where you can showcase your skills in order to get the attention of sponsors. Some organisers will even provide special racing cars for participants in this school series. Pay attention and work hard on this amateur program because it is here that you will get some valuable race points to move you on to the next level.
Get Your F1 License
Though there are numerous race paths to becoming a Formula 1 driver, all racers are expected to pass through one or more of the Junior level races in order to move up the ranks.
You will need to have turned 18 years old while you partake in the Junior level races because organisers want F1 racers to be at least 18 years of age in order to be considered for an F1 license. If you are still under the age of 18 you can gain more points and experience in other junior seater series.
It is important that you accumulate at least 40 points in order to qualify for an F1 license. You can achieve this in as little as 3 years before applying for an F1 license. You are also expected to have accumulated as many as 300 hours in an F1 car in order to hold an F1 racing license. You can claim these hours logging them while doing practice laps and when you test drive for manufacturers of F1 cars.
Being part of an F1 Team
Understanding the whole way a team is built and operates is very important in motor racing. Every member of the team is important and can affect the outcome of your F1 races. Getting experience and understanding of all the different roles can really help you build your knowledge about F1 and help you become a better driver.
Join a Formula 1 team
Actually being asked to become a member of an F1 team is a great honour and one not many drivers ever get to experience. It is a highly competitive sport and even with years of racing experience and bucket loads of talent, it is often still not possible to reach the giddy heights of F1. If however, you performed exceptionally well and shone as an amateur, an F1 team owner may invite you to join their team. These teams are normally owned by different car companies and they have their personal sponsorships to cover their costs. Keep in mind that F1 teams normally sign new drivers on a season by season basis. Therefore, drivers often race in professional F1 competitions with one team in one season and another team the following season.
Making it to be a professional racing driver is a very expensive journey. For most people, the only way to fund it is through sponsorship. Most racing drivers will have sponsors that require some extra off-track work. In order to attract sponsors, you need to attain some success on the racing circuit however so it can be a bit of a vicious circle. You need to be successful to get sponsorship but your chances of being successful are less so if you don’t have the funding that sponsors bring. Racing can be an expensive sport; hence racers must supplement their income with off-track endorsements.
Many people dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver but the reality is that for most people, it will remain a dream. However, that is not to say that you shouldn’t try because every single driver on the current F1 circuit once was that young person, dreaming of one day becoming world champion.