How to get a career in Formula 1

Interested in joining the fast paced world of Formula 1? In our article you'll discover what it takes to flourish in this glamorous and cutting edge sport.

How to become an F1 driver

One of the most exciting and competitive jobs in Formula 1 is the person in the car: the driver.

Only 20 people in the world can be Formula 1 drivers. It takes a long time to earn that place, requiring dedication, talent, money and a good bit of luck.

Dedication

The greatest Formula 1 drivers all started their careers at a young age; normally around 6 or 7 years old.

Drivers often start in Kart Racing or Karting. Kart racers can either drive your own kart or a team's kart. You then compete in regional championships and work your way through the rankings.

Talented drivers are recruited by scouts into Formula 4, 3 and 2, which are Formula 1 feeder series. Drivers are expected to perform well in these series to eventually secure a seat in Formula 1.

The minimum age for a Formula 1 driver is 18. That means it takes over 10 years to become an F1 driver, as most drivers start in motorsport at about 6 years old.

Talent

Driving in Formula 1 means you are one of the best drivers in the world. It's incredibly competitive, and F1 drivers must earn a seat. You need to win races consistently to move up through the Formula 1 feeder series.

The higher you move up through the series, the harder things get. As you get better, so will your competitors, meaning those wins become more and more difficult. Only the best of the best will be able to become a Formula 1 driver.

Money

The unfortunate reality of Formula 1 is that it costs a lot of money to take part in as a driver.

Competing in karting championships can cost over £10,000 a year – and that’s just to get started in the sport.

Generally, most drivers in Formula 1 come from a privileged background. They have enough money to make their way through karting and other feeder series, or sometimes to buy their F1 seat outright.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get into the sport. Lewis Hamilton’s dad, Anthony, worked many jobs to support his son’s career. Lewis came from a working-class background and overcame financial and societal challenges to become one of the most successful Formula 1 drivers of all time.

The reality is that becoming an F1 driver is very difficult and requires a lot of sacrifices. There are other careers available in Formula 1, meaning you can still live your F1 dream.

Careers in Formula 1

If you love Formula 1 and want to get involved, then there are plenty of options outside of driving. Formula 1 is a huge industry and a growing market, with new opportunities appearing every day.

If you're not sure where to get started in Formula 1, then we recommend:

  • Identifying your passion. Figure out your what your talents are and how you can use them to contribute to a winning team.
  • Exploring different roles. Check out the various roles available within the industry. We have a good number of examples below.
  • Gaining industry experience. Get some practical experience through internships or placements. You can gain this experience as industry placement on our courses.
  • Learning from others. Read about the experiences of professionals already working in Formula 1.

Here at the University of Central Lancashire, we offer a variety of courses that will help you pursue a career in Formula 1.

  1. Motorsports Engineers design, build and test Formula 1 cars. It is their job to design a concept for the car, build the car to the concept and test whether it is competitive. The process is iterative, and you will improve the car across the year to ensure it remains competitive.

    Our Motorsport Engineering courses are designed to teach you the skills needed to enter this career:

  2. Motorsport Mechanics, or Motorsport Technicians, look after the car during race events. This involves maintaining the car during the race event and making any changes needed from the pit garage. Mechanics can also become part of the pit crew, quickly maintaining F1 cars during a pit stop.

    Our Motorsport Engineer courses are perfect for preparing you as both an engineer or mechanic:

  3. Formula 1 is a technical sport. It relies on underlying technologies that need talented developers and engineers.

    Our BSc (Hons) Software Engineering course focuses on the design and development of software solutions to solve complex problems. The course is a perfect way to familiarise yourself with the fast-paced world of motorsport.

  4. Formula 1 is a data-driven sport, requiring advanced analysis to ensure that drivers, teams, and cars are competitive. Parts of the team, such as the strategists, need to be able to collect, review, analyse and act on data before, during and after a race event.

    Key decisions are made in short amounts of time. Being able to analyse advanced data sets is one of the most important factors in a winning team.

    Our MSc Applied Data Science course merges the fields of engineering, computing and statistics; all the industries that work together in Formula 1. You’ll learn all the key skills needed to be able to analyse advanced data sets in an engineering environment.

  5. As with all sports, marketing plays a big role in the motorsport industry – and Formula 1 is no exception. Marketing roles are available throughout the sport. Roles are available in individual team's marketing, marketing for Formula 1 itself or marketing for sports broadcasters such as Sky Sports.

    As with all marketing teams, roles are varied, and you can work in a role that suits your tastes best. We offer courses in:

    Our courses are designed to teach you all the important facets of marketing, allowing you to specialise in any given role you find interesting.

  6. As long as Formula 1 exists then there will need to be people to talk, write and produce content around it. Sports Journalism is a big business, and Formula 1 has media outlets around the world writing about the latest scoops, rumours, and dramas.

    Here at the University of Central Lancashire, we have the BA Sports Journalism course. Our practical course teaches you how to tell exciting stories in different way, including:

    • Articles
    • News reports
    • Television broadcasts
    • Podcasts
    • Video
  7. Formula 1 is a massive industry, and a significant part of it revolves around the media and marketing. This means there are hundreds of roles available for creatives within the industry.

    We have several courses available that enable you to share your creativity in the wider business world of Formula 1:

  8. Co-ordinators keep the team’s wheels turning. There are many co-ordinator positions available in teams, covering different aspects of the business. In short, co-ordinators ensure that the team and all its members of staff are doing their job as efficiently and effectively as possible.

    Our BA Business Management Degree Apprenticeship course will teach you all the relevant skills needed to both manage and operate a business in the modern world. You’ll learn people, project, operations, and service management skills – perfect for the speedy world of Formula 1.