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Video series: What it takes to be a Formula 1 driver
Video series: What it takes to be a Formula 1 driver
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Oct 2010   |  7:32 pm GMT  |  34 comments

Here is the first video in a short series, showing a group of fans and media learning what it takes to be an F1 driver. It features the experiences of among others Fan Ambassador Neil Donnell, the BBC’s Jake Humphrey and myself at last week’s unique Yas Marina driving event.

The two day event was organised by the Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management team under its CEO, the former Toyota F1 team manager Richard Cregan.

Using its extensive range of racing cars, hiring in F1’s leading doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli and a host of F1 drivers, past present and future, it laid on a programme designed to show what it takes to be an F1 driver from a mental and physical point of view as well as out on the race track in driving challenges from karting to F3000 and a ride in the 2 seater F1 car.

A film crew was there to cover the whole event and they have put together an entertaining series which shows what the experience was like. Like the rest of us, Neil learned a lot from the experience and overcame many hurdles, not least a bout of claustrophobia in the 2 seater F1 car with Jean Alesi.

It’s a compelling story and we will run the series of films here on the site.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Sorry this isn’t specifically on topic, but what’s the background song?


Only one word from watching video ‘ENVY”.


A great first episode James.

It really gives an insight into the positive nature of the experience and the quality of the event.

I can’t wait to see the rest.


I think I would rather have won this than ever win the lottery.


Nice analogy. I think it was a bit like winning the lottery. The great thing was seeing how easily and how well Neil fitted in with the media guys and with stars like Alesi and Herbert. He was a fantastic ambassador for the fans at a high level event


Fantastic video… looking forward for the rest of the series.

Btw, I DO envy all the guys in the video. seems so exciting! As Neil says, you go for breakfast and see so many world class drivers around you… and that is the very beggining of the day. Wow, this is actually a once in a lifetime experience!


Looks like an informative and fun series. You can tell how much fun it was for the participants – they are all smiling from ear to ear 😀


Absolutely looking forward to the rest of the videos. Wonder how long it will take Jake to request the removal of him with his trousers around his ankles!!

Great content… the best F1 web site on the net!!


Hi James,

Fantastic stuff!! I just wish more of us could enjoy it! What a fantastic experience!!


Fantastic insight into F1……great work James!

James…..will you ever return to live race commentary in the future one day?….greatly missed….I am sure others will agree.


Cool video looks like a great experience!

@ Frenchie that is Jake Humphrey next to JA


Wahoo!… What an introduction to the series.

Reading the posts was quite exciting but a video diary is grand.

There’s a hint that you guys had a huge amount of fun. I look forward to seeing the other videos. Thanks for bringing this over to the JAF1 community/followers.

Can’t wait to see more footage of Johnny, Jean, Neil et al.

PS: very unglamorous last picture. Is this Jake next to you?


First time I’ve ever been bothered to load a video onto my iPhone. Great film. Looking forward to the rest.


How did you get any Apple mobile device to play it? It’s flash!!!

James is there any of this content on YouTube as in this format I can’t view it?


Ohh Apple devices do play flash content, Right?


It’s all on You Tube


Thank you. I’m able to watch now and dribble in envy!!!

No Apple mobile devices don’t play flash content unless you jailbreak and install Frash. Even then some content doesn’t work.


Pretty cool!


‘what it takes to be an f1 driver’

about 30k for a season in competitive karting at a high level. and if you’re not picked up by an F1 driver programme after, the next steps are simple!

about 150k for a season of formula renault. oh, then another 350k for a season in euro F3. maybe another half a mil in GP2 for good measure, and bingo, if you have the speed, skill, determination, and commitment, you’re there! you’re an f1 driver!


hehe Sorry moschum but your calculations are out by a fair bit. If we consider that a drivers needs to do top level karting we are closer to £150,000-£250,000. £30,000 would get you a great year racing at your local club circuit, but national and international karting is a whole different league.

There’s not chance you could get a decent season of Formula Renault for £150,000 either.

The FIA are trying to create a more credible ladder for racing drivers that avoids these vast sums of money, but it’s still astronomically expensive right now, even with the new U-18 karting champs and F2 etc…

It’s hard to know which side of the fence to fall. Either it’s ‘just motorsport’ or ‘something needs to change’!

It certainly is sad however when you see a hugely talented driver perform some magical pieces of driving and skill against far far far wealthier opponents, but because they don’t have the funds they get no where, or even noticed.


150k for karting now, really? well the costs have gone shooting up then since i did club level TKM 6 years ago.

well, they’ve clearly gone to great lengths to make the ‘sport’ even more approachable…..

im sure i saw on the net that a season of formula renault is about 150k. a full season of formula palmer audi is 80k. what sort of money are we talking for a season of formula renault then, and what evidence do you have supporting this.


The sport is more accessible at a club level these days, mostly thanks to Honda and Subaru’s 4 stroke engines which are much cheaper and easier to maintain than 2 strokes.

If you live within shooting distance of Leicester, then you could probably manage a decent season of club races at Stretton for around £3k, including the kart itself which you could later sell on with little depreciation when you want something faster. You won’t make a career as a racing driver out of it, but you’ll have a lot of fun!

Unfortunately it seems there aren’t many clubs as progressive as Stretton. I can’t find anything suitable around South Yorkshire.


Once you add in team costs, as well as coaching, sim training, and testing it all goes way beyond £150,000 if you want to do it properly. BARC is slightly cheaper, but if you want to run at the front in the UK championship you needs the monies.

Even 6 years ago in karting, a year of International level kart was £100k +. We’re talking Formula A, ICA here… or what is now KF (but less said about KF the better).


Excellent James!

Looking forward to more videos.

On a side note have you given the podcast thing anymore thought? Would be great to have one after each race etc.

Also a cool idea for the site would be a tab to press for your answers so it scrolls straight to the ones you have answered. Just an idea…



Sorry I missed this:

Chequered Flag Formula 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live)


I’d like to share the podcasts that I listen to faithfully and if they are entertaining and of value to anyone.


Formula 1 Blog

F1 Rejects

Radio Le Mans

The F1 Show

F1 Trackside with Bob Constanduros

Motor Sport Magazine


Another F1

AT&T Williams F1 Team

The Force India F1 Team

Red Bull Racing

Renault F1 Team


If anyone is going to do a good Podcast, it’s James, I watch a few and none are that good. If it’s on the same level and quality as the website it will be a winner


Which ones do you like?


I really enjoyed the F1 Rejects podcast, it’s hilarious but they’re on a hiatus at the moment, sadly. Gareth Jones on Speed is good too, although it’s as much about the automotive industry as it is about motorsport.

I quite like 5 Live’s Chequered Flag podcasts, but I’d like something a little more ‘independent’.

Sidepodcast can be good at times, especially when Joe Saward is on, but it’s not a terribly consistent show.


I like the way kermode & Mayo do theirs on 5 live.

Would be cool if you had a different guest each week…


Yes, I’ve been thinking about that. Hopefully someone who doesn’t talk as much and as quickly as Kermode..


motorsport magazine’s podcast is excellent


Yes, I like the idea and am looking into it.


Hi James,

I would love to give you a hand (in any capacity really) if this is possible. The voice of the fans or the GP spectator experience maybe? It is out of interest for the medium itself (podcasting) and F1.

Feel free to let me know if you’re interested.

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