Formula 1 is the most expensive, highest technology and widely followed form of motorsport in the world. That’s a fact. The question many ask is whether or not Formula 1 is better for it or does this commercial drive mean that the sport isn’t as good as it used to be? It is an argument that is heard over and over again but the end result may mean good news for those wanting to earn their living in Formula 1.
A success for everybody? Probably.
F1 is a global success story. It is broadcast in almost every country in the developed world and love it or loathe it, most people that you speak to will know what Formula 1 is and what it means. Is it the holy grail for those who work in racing though and is it the target you should be aiming for?
It’s a popular pastime amongst those who work in racing to put Formula 1 down as a sport, say it’s spoilt, not as good as it used to be and that it’s a business not a even a sport at all anymore. It is certainly different to how it used to be but has the F1 really suffered that much?
Puritans think back to a ‘Golden Era’ in the 50’s and 60’s where privateer teams could buy a car, drive out to a circuit somewhere in Europe and take on the might of Ferrari, Maserati and Mercedes. So many romantic stories come from that time, the little men taking on the big guns and winning, tasting champagne and their moment of fame. All you needed was a leather cap, goggles and a cheeky spirit to rock the establishment. Oh, and a private fortune… I say that because these were the days before sponsorship and so F1 really was the reserve of the rich and privileged.
Today’s F1 costs even more however and is now only affordable for sizeable corporations. Entry is limited to 24 cars and the championship entry fee alone is unaffordable by any reasonable measure. There is no way that enthusiasts can hope to take part… That era is long gone. Or is it?
Formula 1 for everyday people
Despite the relentless march of the commercial F1 machine, the fact is that far more “ordinary” people take part in Formula 1 today that at any time in the glorious past. Some of the romance may have gone but the success and expansion of the Formula 1 business has opened doors into the sport that were firmly just a few decades ago.
The average team in the 1960’s consisted of 10-20 persons and even the big factory constructors would have employed barely a fraction of the people that they do today.
The complexity of the cars has only increased the diversity of the skills required and so more doors have opened to more varied types of people. There really has not been better odds on you being able to earn a living in F1.
If you are still a romantic
I asked earlier on whether or not F1 was the pinnacle of motorsport for those lucky enough to earn their living there. F1’s success is undeniable but it isn’t for everyone. Other forms of racing are smaller and less corporate and many people find their ultimate goal is outside of F1. That goal may be in rallying, historic racing or stock cars for example. I’m lucky enough to have spent the early part of my career in the US, working in different series there and I can tell you first hand that the experience is very different to Formula 1. I must say loved it and really enjoyed being involved in different aspects of the team and seeing so much first hand of what it takes to run a small racing team. We had some success too, which I felt a real part, not that I don’t in F1 now but it is easier to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond when there are only 10 people on the team !!
Ultimately it depends on what you want and how hard you want to work to get it. Despite a great experience, I decided I still wanted to work in F1 because it was what inspired me to work in racing in the first place and commercial or not it has a magnetic draw as being the best of the best. The good news is there are more opportunities for you whatever you choose with expansion into new markets gathering pace those opportunities are only likely to get better. That is good news for everyone.
Keep in touch
If you are interested in a career in Formula 1 or want to learn more about how you can get involved, take a look through my list of frequently asked questions or read through some of my recent posts. This blog has a lot of useful tips and information waiting for you.
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