How to become a Formula 1 driver: 15 steps (with pictures)

How to become a Formula 1 driver: 15 steps (with pictures)
How to become a Formula 1 driver: 15 steps (with pictures)

Michael Schumacher (91 wins), Lewis Hamilton (over 60 wins), Alain Prost (51 wins)… The list of heroes behind the wheel is not very long, but the exploits of these Formula 1 drivers are extraordinary! If you have a passion for driving in your blood and if you start driving a kart from a very young age, you might be the next Formula 1 world champion! First tip: register with the FFSA (French Federation of Motorsport).


Part 1 of 4: learn to drive

Become an F1 Driver Step 1

Step 1. Start as early as possible

First of all, you should be aware that becoming a professional pilot is particularly difficult. Very few elected officials will have the chance to make a living from their profession, this profession today being 90% reserved for enthusiasts who have financial income from other sources. One thing is certain, you need to get your hands on the wheel as early as possible, i.e. around the age of 7 and even before. That said, there are always exceptions …

  • If you are a minor you must have the consent of your parents to drive on the circuit, but to drive a Formula 1 you do not need a normal driver's license to participate in the world championships and win races over of 300 km / h! You need a license adapted to the chosen formula. For Formula 1, it is called the Super License.
  • To get to the top of the ladder, it is not enough to know how to turn the steering wheel, it is essential to master all the driving techniques …
Become an F1 Driver Step 2

Step 2. Drive a go-cart

A child must be 7 years old to set foot in the world of competition and make contacts which are essential for his future by participating in promotion packages. Some drivers are spotted by manufacturers or teams during kart races!

Become an F1 Driver Step 3

Step 3. Obtain your license

Currently you have to be over 16 years old to drive on the track, but if you drive on the road like rallying you must be 18 years old and you need a basic driver's license to pass the road tests. The license is issued by the FFSA (French Federation of Motorsport). It has an absolutely unique training center in the world which is aimed at aspiring drivers. One year costs around 100,000 euros and the winner receives a grant to finance the following year.

Become an F1 Driver Step 4

Step 4. Try the GT Academy

The antechamber of Formula 1 is often Formula 2 and the 1 or 2 years that you have to devote to it will cost you around 2 million euros, which is not given to everyone… Created in 2008 by Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe with the collaboration of Nissan Europe, the GT Academy is a competition that allows young people to move from the virtual world to the real world. Participants compete with the game Gran Turismo in front of screens to try to earn their place on the circuit and become professional drivers.

Part 2 of 4: getting closer to the goal

Become an F1 Driver Step 5

Step 1. Go kart racing

Karting is the best way to start racing from a very young age. Most professional drivers started out by participating in kart competitions. Look on the internet for the karting club closest to you and get in touch with those in charge without waiting another minute.

Become an F1 Driver Step 6

Step 2. Obtain a kart driver's license

Whether for fun or to compete, it is essential to have a license that you can obtain through a club. If you are a minor, you also need parental permission. There are different types of licenses. To train, the license costs around 120 euros, for a competition license, count 200 euros. They are valid for one year (from January 1 to December 31) and must be renewed.

Become an F1 Driver Step 7

Step 3. Buy your own karting

In some clubs you can rent a kart, but if you train often and want to compete, it is better to buy your own machine. There are many models with different characteristics and powers. You can get an idea of ​​the prices of new karts on this site. A used kart is cheaper and to start it is certainly a good option, especially as you progress, you will have to change to more efficient machines.

Become an F1 Driver Step 8

Step 4. Take part in competitions

To start with, you will participate in club races, then regional events, and if you get good results, you will race at national and then European level. It is clear that if you want to climb the ranks until you find yourself behind the wheel of a Ferrari or a Mercedes, you will have to train a lot …

Part 3 of 4: Getting a Formula 1 Driver's License

Become an F1 Driver Step 9

Step 1. Become a champion in F2

To get the Super License (the Formula 1 license), you have to be good, very good! You must obtain 40 points (minimum) over 3 years by winning major competitions: FIA F2, IndyCar, FIA F3 Europe, FIA Formula E, FIA WEC-LMP1, GP3 Series, Formula V8 3.5, Super Formula, FIA WEC-LMP2, FIA WTC, DTM, Super GT, NASCAR Cup, Indy light… The calculation of points was modified in 2017 and the changes have been applied since the beginning of 2018.

Become an F1 Driver Step 10

Step 2. Reach your 18th birthday

Shortly after Max Verstappen appeared behind the wheel of a Formula 1 under 18, the FIA ​​changed the rules and the minimum age requirement is today… 18! Rest assured, you have the time and you need several years of competition in different categories to gain the experience that will allow you to master one of these little cars. Since 2016, it is mandatory to have participated in at least two seasons in single-seater. In the meantime, aim to earn lots of points!

Become an F1 Driver Step 11

Step 3. Obtain the necessary points

Win victories to accumulate the 40 essential points (over 3 years). The distribution of points depends on the category in which you are running and your position. For example, if you run in F2, the first three get 40 points, the 4th gets 30 points, the 5th gets 20 points, and the 6th gets 10 points. Beyond the 10th, zero points… You can consult the new scale for the allocation of points by category on the site.

Become an F1 Driver Step 12

Step 4. Drive a Formula 1 for 300 hours

To have the Super License, it is not enough for you to obtain the 40 points, you must also drive a Formula 1 by testing for manufacturers or by training in order to accumulate 300 hours. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the machines and show what you can do to potential recruiters.

Part 4 of 4: playing with the big boys

Become an F1 Driver Step 13

Step 1. Accept the proposals

If you stand out by winning many races, you will receive offers from some teams. The car you drive will usually be owned by a brand, the teams have contracts with sponsors to cover the costs. A pilot contract is normally for a period of one year.

Become an F1 Driver Step 14

Step 2. Look for sponsors

Running is very expensive, personal sponsors are welcome to cover the many costs associated with the practice of this sport. Sponsors are mainly interested in drivers who have an excellent image and who are loved by the public. In addition to your pilot job, you will need to lend your image for advertising photos, videos, branding when you are on TV, and appearing fresh and smiling at certain events.

Become an F1 Driver Step 15

Step 3. Pay to Drive

Even if it seems less chivalrous, it is a common practice in promotional formulas like Formula Renault, and it is also done in NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula 1. Instead of being paid by the team for which you run, you pay her to drive a car. The money can come from sponsors or your own savings, it goes without saying that they must be quite large …


To find sponsors and have good financial support for your career, it is important that you have a pleasant personality, that you behave like a real professional, and that you have class


  • To get to Formula 1, you will have to spend huge sums of money, car racing is a very dear passion.
  • Driver safety is a top priority these days, but there are always risks and you should be aware that you can be injured and even killed during a race.

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