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How To Become Formula One Driver

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formula-1
21.05.2018
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Formula One is one the fastest and yet the most expensive sports. This sport gives an action, unpredictable rivalry both within a team and among other teams participating in the championship. Formula One gives the thrill and feeling of speed. It has changed the perception of driving as it presents driving as an art. The greatest sport that gave legends such as Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, and new-born star Sebastian Vettel.

From first sight, it seems like it is an easy task to stir the wheel and push pedals. It is hard work performed by a team of qualified mechanics and engineers that is finished by a driver. The path to Formula One championship is not easy. According to Siberhegindo Teknik, the Formula One path starts from karting, Formula BMW, GP 3, GP 2, then Formula One test driving and Formula One team driver. This hierarchy of experience starts at the age of eight. It takes around 15 years of hard work to become a participant of the Formula One championship. For the karting starter, initial costs range from $50,000 to $100,000. The investments grow with further growth of a young driver. (Siberbegindo, 2009).

However, age is not the limit for a successful career in the number one motorsport. For example, Max Verstappen has become one of the youngest Formula One drivers to participate in the championship in 2015. Max is only sixteen and has already signed a contract with Red Bull Racing Formula One junior team Toro Rosso (Johnson, 2014). Another example, Sebastian Vettel joined Formula One in 2008 in the age of 21 and by 2013 he had won his fourth consecutive world champion title.

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Most of the current Formula One drivers paved their careers through Team driver academies. The aim of these institutions is to develop the potential of young drivers and lead their way to Formula One career as a team driver. It is a so-called Young development initiative followed by Ferarri, McLaren, Lotus, Red Bull, and others.

For the last couple of decades Formula One has been under public scrutiny for losing its true meaning. It is more about commercial assets involved rather. The lack of funding means that a driver loses its chance to become a team member. The richer sponsor one brings higher chances to demonstrate your talent during the championship. However, it is one of the underwater stones one has to tackle; still, talent and experience have their weight in this process.

To become a licensed Formula One driver it is necessary to become a Super License holder issued by FIA (English abbreviation International Automobile Federation). In order to receive FIA Super License it is mandatory to hold Grade A competition license and meet the following requirements: to be reigning champion in lower motorsport category (Formula 3, Formula 2, GP2 series) or to have consistent well results in mentioned above series; IndyCar series drivers are also eligible to apply for the License. According to Appendix L of International Sporting Code that regulates issuing of FIA Super License, enables cases to award the License by unanimous agreement to those who do not fall under the mentioned above cases, however have completed 300 kilometers of testing in a current car at racing speeds ( FIA International Sporting Code, Appendix L, 2013). Each year Super License holder has to pay a fee which is 2012 was around €10,000 with an additional €1,000 for each championship point.

The annual medical examination is a part of the Super License acquisition process. The examination consists of two parts: written questionnaire and full clinical examination that includes cardiovascular aptitude examination, eye test and evaluation of the musculoskeletal system (Appendix L, Chapter II, 2013).

It is a well-known fact that Formula One drivers are the fittest athletes in sports. The single-seater motor car sport requires its drivers to have excellent endurance and stamina, which enables a driver to be able to compete until the end of the race overcoming long distances. Heat exposure is also one of the important issues a driver has to deal with. During the single race Formula, One driver can sweat off up to 3 kg of their body weight.

Physical endurance is achieved through regular exercise, including running, swimming, cycling or at some cases roller-blading. Due to heavy loads on the neck and chest, drivers have to develop and exercise these muscles using “rigs” of special design.

Diet of drivers regulates the amounts of carbohydrates and proteins they absorb. During the race weekend, drivers usually consume products and foods rich in carbohydrates as it provides energy for the whole race. Hydration is another important issue. Drivers are required to drink a lot of liquid despite the fact that they might not feel thirst (Formula One Official website).

Up to 2009, when Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) was introduced by FIA, the height and weight have not been an issue in Formula One. KERS weighs around 30 kilograms and the total car weight including the driver should not exceed 620 kilograms. Consequently, the car performance and especially chassis where all extra ballast was allocates performed differently, depending on the driver’s weight and height. The average Formula One driver weight ranges from 9st 6lb and 10st 3lb (60-65kg). Optimal average height in accordance with new regulations should not exceed 6 feet (Sprugeon, 2014).

The Formula One drivers can be placed in three categories: lightweights, middleweights and heavyweights. Sebastian Vettel 64kg (10st), 176cm (5ft 9in), Jenson Button 70kg (11st), 183cm (6ft) and Nico Hülkenberg 74kg (11st 9lb), 184cm (6ft) accordingly belong to mentioned above categories (Cary, 2013).

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