The fame, glory, and, of course, cars in professional race car driving can draw anyone in. But it’s a deeply competitive field, and those who make it to the top train their entire lives for it. Here are seven of the skills you’ll need to master if you want to get on their level and drive with them.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. You have to be really good at driving! Not just good at driving on the road, racing is an entirely different skill set. Try out a track day to practice and get a feel for if this could be something you want to do.
If you’re younger than 16, or you have a kid who wants to race, there are still ways to work on the skill now. Most Formula 1 drivers start as children with go-karting, moving up to bigger vehicles as they get older. There are also some video games that can help you with the basics.
Attention To Detail
Racing is all about precision. Failing to notice how your car is operating, what you’re doing, and how the other driver’s move can mean causing a crash. But when you see and take advantage of them, you can make the slight adjustments necessary to win it all!
Noticing details is also helpful for the engineering team, who will be fine-tuning the car between every race. They appreciate a driver who can tell them exactly how it felt to be operating the vehicle, instead of just making assumptions and extrapolating from data after the fact.
True, drivers typically don’t also do work on the cars. But you also can’t operate one to its fullest extent without completely understanding how it works. Knowing how your brakes operate before using them to take a sharp turn lets you use them with precision, saving you time.
The Japanese are known for making high performance cars. The market called for them because average people get how their engines work and how to improve them for everyday driving. If regular people can do it, then as a professional, you should be able to do it better.
The average person makes a decision in 300 milliseconds. A Formula 1 driver makes one in a third the time. Race cars go exceptionally fast, and being able to notice opportunities and quickly take advantage of them is the difference between passing and placing or losing.
Of course, there’s a difference between being impatient, leading you to make bad decisions, and having confidence in your reflexes. But knowing it comes from hours and hours of training on the track, or at least in video games or virtual reality.
Stay Cool Under Pressure
It’s entirely possible to obsess over racing your entire life, train for years to make it to the big leagues, get into your first season, and lose. Races are high-pressure events, with a lot of money, fans, and teammates counting on you, and you have to be able to deliver.
If you tend to stress out over things going wrong, you need to find a way around it to become a race car driver. You won’t always start out in the best position, but drivers who keep a cool head manage to take advantage of what they have to improve their place.
Most of us have gone on long drives before, but withstanding the physical conditions of a race is something totally different. Racecar drivers have to be fit and athletic in order to withstand the speed, pressure, and muscular strength needed to excel when on the track.
For instance, drivers typically experience 5g force when racing. In comparison, astronauts leaving Earth “only” experience 3-4gs. Current stars in racing acknowledge that drivers who aren’t in peak physical condition are usually the ones who make mistakes.
The drivers are often the most famous members of the team, but the most successful ones are also the most humble. Driver merchandise is often secondary to Formula 1 team apparel because wins don’t happen without the whole team.
The greatest driver in the world, without engineers, pit crews, and the rest of the team, would be operating a regular car with worn out tires that’s low on fuel. Learn how to work with them, though, and they’ll help you achieve everything.
Racing is intense, even terrifying, but also exhilarating. If you can put in the time and dedication it takes to drive with the best, you can have a worldwide fanbase and one of the coolest careers in the world! It takes a lot of work, but if you love racing like the pros do, it’s beyond worth it.