Young fans of Formula 1, like all aspiring sportsmen or sportswomen, will dream of emulating their heroes and heroines and joining an F1 team as a Grand Prix or test driver.
What is the best route into the sport and what characteristics do you need as an individual?
Like all professional sports, F1 is very competitive, and aspiring F1 pilots can face a very expensive path to their dreams. The good news is that there is a well-established ladder to the top of the sport. Learning racing craft starts very early, and some of today’s top drivers in the sport started out in karting. This level teaches race craft, and many racers can trace their careers back to travelling with their parents to kart tracks; Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button both got their starts this way.
Moving on to lower formulae will give more exposure but can incur substantial costs. Not every aspirant has the family funds to make those steps, and seeking sponsorship can be crucial. Most drivers have had to find their own funding for their early careers.
There are plenty of stories of young drivers making the step up into the high-octane world of F1.
The only way you will develop a career in the sport without spending a lot of money is by being spotted early on by one of the teams that offer scholarships within their own development programmes. Major teams spend a lot of money seeking out young talent, but competition is fierce. Climbing the ladder involves progression to junior categories to the fringe of F1. These include Formula Ford, GP3, Formula 3 and GP2.
Young drivers on the fringe of the elite class can get a smell of the fumes at the Monaco F1 Paddock Club with trips organised by companies such as https://edgeglobalevents.com/f1-paddock-club/monaco/. These opportunities give aspirants a view of the intense atmosphere.
Part of the path to F1 can include racing schools around the UK, which are often run by former drivers. Courses will cost four figures but will not only improve driving and race craft but also be a significant addition to the CV of a young, up-and-coming driver.
Like all professional sports, it is a young person’s game, and the sooner you begin, the better your chance of success.