Formula 1 drivers are in a highly competitive sport that requires a great deal of talent and commitment to have any hope for success. While it may seem like a dream job, becoming a professional driver takes years of experience and a good deal of financial investment to climb the ranks to Formula 1. By knowing the steps required to becoming a Formula 1 racer, you can fully assess the risks and rewards to decide if the sport is right for you.
Take a class at a racing school.
This is the quickest way to find out if Formula 1 is right for you. It is ideal for older racers that are new to the sport. You will get to get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 race car and learn some of the basics of racing. These classes may have a substantial fee for a few hours of racing knowledge, but it is the most affordable way to gain knowledge about Formula 1 racing before you decide to make a larger financial commitment.
You must have a valid standard driver’s license to take these classes, and if you are a minor you will also need parental consent.
You must be capable of driving a car with a manual transmission to take racing classes.
Enroll in a racing program.
These programs will involve approximately 1-2 weeks of advanced classes to hone your racing skills. Since your goal is to race in Formula One, you likely want to select a school that is approved by the licensing organization.
Get your racing license.
Upon completion of the required courses your school will send a letter of recommendation to a racing organization. This will enable you to register and compete in a racing school event.
Enter an amateur school race series.
These entry level race events are a great opportunity for amateur drivers to showcase their skills and get the attention of potential sponsors. Some schools hold their own races and will even provide you a car for these race events. You can win scholarships and race points towards getting your next level license.
Try kart racing.
This method is the best way for younger racers to get involved in the sport. Most of the top Formula 1 drivers all started off racing carts. Buying a kart can be costly, so you may just want to visit a local kart track and try it out first.
Get a kart racing license.
Some organizations will give any beginner that applies a license so they can start entry level races to learn the sport. To get into more serious races, you will need to continue to apply for higher licenses. You may need to pass a test given at an accredited school, or show proficiency at racing at your current level before being allowed to move up.
Buy your kart.
If you are going to race you need some wheels. There are different vehicles for different levels of race, and you will probably need to buy or rent several karts before you move up to racing cars.
Enter a race.
Placing well in races is a big part in how quickly your racing career advances. The better you perform the sooner you will reach the next level. If you plan on getting to Formula 1, you will need to race as much as you can and always be looking to move up to the next level.
Complete two years in junior single seater racing events.
Formula 1 requires drivers to have a good deal of experience driving similar vehicles. While there are many possible race series that can be your path to Formula 1, all racers must go through one or more of the junior levels to move up.
Turn 18 years old.
Formula 1 racers must all be a minimum age to hold a license. Some younger racers are good enough to be considered for Formula 1, but will not be eligible until they reach the proper age. If you are still too young, look at gaining some more experience in any of the junior single seater race series to add to your race points.
Accumulate 40 race points.
These points are acquired based on performance and placement in junior race series events. 40 points must be acquired over a 3-year period to be eligible to get your Formula 1 license.
Accumulate 300 driving hours in a Formula 1 car.
To be eligible to hold the racing license you need to have a good handle on driving the car. These hours can be logged doing practice laps or test drives for car manufacturers.
Accept an offer to drive for an F1 team.
If you have performed well as an amateur an owner might ask for you to drive for their team. These teams are often owned by car companies and have their own sponsorships to cover costs. They usually sign their drivers on a season-to-season basis.
Most Formula 1 drivers have some sponsors that require additional work off the track. To attract sponsors you need to have success on the track and a positive public opinion. You may have to do appearances or photo shoots for your sponsor in addition to your on-track work. Racing is a very expensive sport, so drivers must look to add to supplement their racing income whenever possible.
Pay to drive in F1.
Pay drivers are common in many levels of motorsports, including Formula 1. Instead of being paid by the race team, the driver uses money from sponsorships or their personal fortune to fund the racing operations. While this isn’t practical for most new racers in Formula 1, it is an option if you have the ability to pay for it.