Formula 1 is the highest level of open wheel racing in the world. Some of the most legendary race car drivers in history-Mario Andretti, Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark and Michael Schumacher-have piloted cars around the circuit's fabled tracks. Natural talent, years of practice and sheer luck define the road to becoming a Formula 1 driver.
- Skill level:
Get involved with karting at a young age. Most Formula 1 drivers begin their racing careers behind the wheel of a kart by the age of ten. Visit the World Karting's homepage (See Resource section below). Find a list of tracks in your area that are sanctioned by the World Karting Association, the authority for karting in the United States.
Attend racing school. Reputable racing schools offer multi-day classes at tracks throughout the country. Learn the basics of handling a more powerful open wheel car.
Move to Europe as a teenager. Get a ride in Formula 3 or Formula 3000. While a few drivers who honed their skills on the American circuits have successfully made the move to Formula 1, there is a much greater chance of success if you climb the racing ladder in Europe.
Race hard and move to teams that offer a greater chance to finish on the podium. Attract the attention of a Formula 1 boss by performing consistently well in the lower levels. Find a good agent to help promote you and capitalize on your success on the track.
Become a test driver for a Formula 1 team. It is preferable to start Formula 1 racing, but some current drivers first honed their skills as test drivers-developing race strategies through endless test laps as they learned the nuances of each track on the circuit.
Find funding to support your campaign. Smaller teams with more precarious funding consider taking a driver who brings sponsorship to the team.
Tips and warnings
- Expect to invest several thousand dollars in your racing career before you reach the upper levels of competition.
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