Why the idea that F1 isn’t as good as it used to be, is actually very good news for you

Posted on Posted in Understanding the motorsport industry

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.

The time pressures of my job in F1 mean that I cannot update the site each day but I aim to post regularly. You can keep checking the blog for new articles or alternatively you can use the follow form at the bottom of this page or on the home page and I will keep you up to date with new articles as they are published.

If you have read the blog but there is still something specific you want to know you can always add a comment to this or any other post. Please bear in mind however that I get a lot of comments on the site now and I can’t guarantee to answer all questions, particularly if they have been asked before or have been discussed in previous posts. Please check my frequently asked questions or other people’s comments as your query may have already been answered.

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7 thoughts on “Why the idea that F1 isn’t as good as it used to be, is actually very good news for you

  1. Hi , thanks again for another useful post. I had a question about recruitment for the ’14 season. Are the new regulations (which need more resources, budget, expertise etc. ) lead to lesser recruitment of graduates this year?? Are f1 teams willing to hire new grads?? What’s the inside perspective of the teams ??

    1. Hi Anmol

      Recruitment for 2014 will vary team to team. First and foremost, a great majority of that recruitment will have been done already as the car designs are well on the way to being finished now and whatever resource was needed to do that should have been in place some months ago.

      Engine manufacturers have/are recruiting heavily, that’s Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari & now Honda too. For car constructors there will probably be some extra recruitment but heavily dependent on the team in question. Most teams will just expect their existing staff to have a bigger commitment to their work this year to cover the existing work load as budgets are tight & they can’t really afford to hire extra staff this year and then find they don’t need them in 12months time.

      Graduates are probably the cheapest route for teams to recruit and so least likely to be affected. Williams F1 are also taking on a lot of university placement students next year which is a good indication :

      http://www.williamsf1.com/Careers/Job-Listings/

      Hope that helps?

  2. Hi, I wanted to know, will an aerospace engineering degree open a route into Formula 1 engineering by any chance?

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