You can turn tight doughnuts in an empty parking lot, but can you be the next Kimi Raikkonen? Only if you can learn to deal with disappointment, upgrade your driving credentials, and drive in silence.
If you’ve had dreams of life on the race track, you might just imagine F1 driving as sunshine and rainbows. But the reality is a little different. Learn more about why F1 driving may not be for you.
1. You Can’t Blame Anybody For Your Crashes
You’re probably used to the concept of comparative negligence from your last fender bender, but F1 goes a little too fast for any lawyers or insurance adjustors to figure out who’s to blame.
If someone takes your car out, you’re out of the race and might not even get any points. The other driver (or you) might get a penalty if the race stewards determine the at-fault party, but the majority of crashes are determined to be “racing incidents.” After all, stuff happens when you’re going 260 KPH.
While you need a locally-issued driver’s license, that’s only the beginning of the qualifications you need before you get onto the track.
First, your license can never have been suspended or revoked. Then, you must have completed 80% of two seasons of a single-seater racing championship like F2 or F3. After getting that and passing a tough test on F1 rules, you still need to pay probably $10K-$20K for the privilege.
You’ll have to worry about getting points on this license, too. Break the rules or cause crashes, and you’ll get points against you. Get 12 points in 12 months, and you’re looking at a suspension.
You can technically listen to music as there’s no rule against it. But drivers don’t, because they need to hear both their car and your radio. If you’ve ever turned down your radio to check a weird sound from under the hood, you know why drivers going twice the average freeway speed might not want that extra step.
An F1 driver’s radio is an important link to the team engineer. They can relay info about cars in the driver’s blind spot, advise a pit stop, or even tell the driver to let a teammate pass.
Ever needed to grab some alone time after a tough day at work? Skipped out on a pointless work meeting? Those days are over. F1 drivers must attend pre-race press conferences and answer questions after the race. Miss a presser, and you could be looking at a hefty fine.
You’ll also be followed around by a press guide from your team recording every interaction to ensure you’re not misquoted. If Max Verstappen skipping a press conference didn’t get the FIA to change these rules, nothing much would.
F1 drivers must wear full gear any time they get in the car, even during a practice run. That generally means a special helmet and collar to support the neck and prevent head injury, a fireproof race suit, and shoes to make gripping the pedals easier. These are, of course, tricked out in all kinds of advertisements and sponsorships.
Of course, if driving in all that kit doesn’t sound like enough of a challenge, you could always try running a marathon in it as one F1 engineer did.
Driving in Formula 1 is nothing like your everyday commute. Some might not want to be on the hook for every crash and drive in tense silence, but to those who do, godspeed.