For fans of racing it is definitely the absolute dream job: become a professional racing driver. However, it is only about 30 percent that depends on the actual talent. The rest are made up of other requirements and factors. But how do you become a racing driver and what problems can arise when you go into your dream job?
People who have already managed to turn their dream of becoming a racing driver into reality would not necessarily advise that young people should try their luck as racing drivers. Because they have to be aware that in today's world racing is more about making money than showing real talent. If large financial resources are available, passion and talent are of secondary importance here. The teams in racing, which are rather small, generally rely on the fact that their racing drivers have the necessary financial means. As a result, the actually better drivers are often displaced from the team positions.
One example of this is the Formula 1 driver of the Lotus brand in Formula 1 Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan racing driver is often assumed that he would not have the talent for Formula 1 and only got his place because a large oil company supports him financially. It's different with McLaren's test driver, Kevin Magnussen. Although he has the talent and ability to be successful in Formula 1, he lacks the money from the right sponsors. To make it to the top, enough financial cushion is needed.
Financial resources are the basic requirement for the question "How do you become a racing driver"
So the issue of finance is what the youngest in the racing industry has the greatest grief. Unlike tennis or soccer, for Motorsport very high costs can be managed right from the start. First of all, a pilot is always only a lone fighter, a strong team is hardly behind him from the start. Often the parents or sponsors of the young racing driver have to make financial investments. In Germany, at least, there are other funding options through institutions such as the Deutsche Post Speed Academy or the ADAC Sports Foundation. In any case, a racing driver always has a great need for financial resources.
Between 2002 and 2007, for example, there was Formula BMW ADAC, which from 2005 was called Formula BMW Germany. In this, the drivers, who were around 15 years old, had to pay around 200.000 euros per year. In the GP2 class, around two million euros per year are currently expected. In the premier class, i.e. Formula 1, the costs can be ten times as much. Everything that goes beyond ambitious karting is therefore not always easy to represent. Getting the budget together for a season is a big problem for many young racing drivers. Finding suitable sponsors here can be one of the toughest areas of the job as a racing driver.
Karting is always the beginning
Karting is considered the best entry into the world of racing. The majority of the currently active professionals in Germany came into professional motorsport through this hobby. Thus, the kart track can also be seen as a primary school of racing. Nowadays there is hardly a way to get past this into the cockpit of a professional racing car.
However, it must be noted that even very successful karting is far from sufficient to have a real chance of becoming a professional racing driver. There are also certain character traits that are absolutely necessary, because the requirement profile for a racing driver is very diverse. For the employer, for example, the driver must also be a good marketing tool, because motorsport is nothing more than a large advertising campaign for the respective manufacturer. Stress resistance and the ability to suffer are also important characteristics that a racing driver should have.
When choosing motorsport, you should never feel guilty. In addition, people who are good at networking have an advantage. Because within his brand, the racing driver must be able to position himself politically. The expansion of contacts plays an important role here in order to gain various advantages. Otherwise there is a risk that the driver will be replaced with a new one after two years. The future racing driver should also have a portion of selfishness. Because it is very important in racing to show stamina and always follow your own individual path.
A second mainstay is important
But even if all prerequisites are met in the human, financial and sporting areas, the right time must also be adjusted to get into racing. This raises the question of when it is really worthwhile for the young person or his parents that the professional focus is entirely on racing. This is a very difficult question, many of which are likely to fail to be answered. In any case, it is advisable to have another job, at least as long as there is no fixed contract with a manufacturer. Beyond sport, young people are also often offered good career prospects. Flexibility is the be-all and end-all here, because racing drivers should not only shine with their skills in the cockpit, but should also be able to gain a foothold in the automotive industry if the racing driver's career cannot be realized.
The toughness that prevails in racing is underestimated by many young drivers. This is where unsightly decisions and very high performance pressure have to be withstood. As a works driver, young people are primarily an employee who has to put their personal interests and wishes back. Incidentally, the fact that the racers spend most of their time in the vehicle is also a fallacy. Because the main part of the job takes place off the racetrack. The assumption of successfully racing internationally right from the start is also a misconception. It can take a long time before young drivers can establish themselves in international competition. Because experience is an extremely important point here.
Give it a try
Nevertheless, established racers advise youngsters to try it despite the great obstacles and difficulties. Because, those who do not even try to realize their dream will certainly never be able to put it into practice. The only mistake here would be to force something that is actually not fun and fulfilling.