Ten reasons why you don’t want to be an F1 driver

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Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Melbourne, 2011

They look really happy to be there

Being an F1 driver is a dream job.

But the 99.9% of us who don’t make it can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that there are downsides to it.

Here are ten reasons why you don’t really want to be an F1 driver.


The importance of fitness in motor racing has never been greater. Ever noticed how often drivers on Twitter tell us they’ve just been training?

Most former drivers will tell you laps in the car and not cross country skiing to the Arctic is the key to race fitness. But modern testing restrictions mean drivers just don’t get the cockpit time they used to.

Jet lag

Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, India, Bahrain (maybe), China, Canada and Brazil are a long way from home in Switzerland or Monaco. At least they can stay in touch with new film releases.

Team speak

It must be so frustrating to have to describe youy ??good working relationship? with your team mate who you really wish was on holiday in Tripoli.

That said, some drivers are happy to buck the PR trend – take a bow, Mark Webber, who’s not afraid to tell it like it is.


Adrian Sutil, Force India, Hungaroring, 2010

Just 1,000 more to go...

Who wouldn’t want to bask in the loyal support of thousands?

The problem is, there’s never enough time to meet and sign caps for all of them. Eventually, some of those who’ve been waiting hours to see you have to go home disappointed.

Sponsors’ stunts

Lewis Hamilton has done some particularly excruciating appearances for McLaren – who can forget him being dangled above a stage playing the part of the Greek God Apollo in some ill-conceived stunt for Vodafone?

But some of them can be fun. Hamilton would be forgiven for feeling somewhat miffed that the same company that put him through that nonsense four years ago had Jenson Button lapping Bathurst in an F1 car last week.

Actually, F1 drivers have to spend far less time with sponsors than drivers in most other categories, but it can be a pain trying to explain to the daughter of Spain?s largest shoe manufacturer why cars are better than ponies five minutes before the start of the race.

The press

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2010

'Was it a good race for you?'

“So Mark your treatment by Red Bull reminds me of the Kennedy assassination, what do you feel about that?” “My sources in the paddock tell me you support Partick Thistle, is that true?” and other such gems are likely to come your way.

Shopping trollies

Jenson Button had it in 2007. Fernando Alonso had it in 2009. And Timo Glock’s going through it right now.

That sinking feeling when you turn the first few laps in a new car and realise it’s trying to go in three directions at once, the engine’s got no power, and it’s going to be a long, point-less season.

Pasta and vitamin drinks

A healthy diet is fine and important, but they must be craving a takeaway by mid-season.

While the motorhome is filled with the delicious aroma of bacon rolls in the morning, it’s porridge for the drivers.

No ??out of hours? fun

Following Robert Kubica’s rally crash, Juan Pablo Montoya’s ??tennis? accident, and Alexandre Premat?s dismissal from Audi for running a marathon, drivers may be allowed no further than their couch or gym in the near future.

If you race in F1 you are more than likely an adrenaline or fitness junkie. So spending the off-season watching Glee re-runs doesn?t come naturally.


Not something to be taken for granted even in these days when every corner is bordered by acres of tarmac, and helmets are so strong you can park a 55-tonne tank on them.

Even if you don’t get hurt, a crash is not a pleasant thing. What must have been going through Sebastien Buemi’s mind when both his front wheels came off at 200mph during practice at Shanghai last year?

This is a guest article by Ben Evans. If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic you can find all the information you need here.

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177 comments on Ten reasons why you don’t want to be an F1 driver

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  1. “Even if you don’t get hurt, a crash is not a pleasant thing. What must have been going through Sebastien Buemi’s mind when both his front wheels came off”

    1) Steer into the skid (*****)
    2) Empty bowels

    • Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 31st March 2011, 14:14

      “oooh i did tat in burnout once!” the driver who thinks that while crashing must be like the awesomest or the stupidest driver.

      anyway, nice article Ben.

    • ming mong said on 31st March 2011, 21:53

      What a joke… Yeah real hard life. Id give up both my testicles to to even have one days private test in the car let alone a full racing career. Harden up!

    • PeriSoft said on 1st April 2011, 1:56

      My dad raced for 25 years or so – not at a pro level (though sometimes in pro races) but in everything from Formula Ford to GT1 / Trans Am.

      In his experience, the things going through a driver’s head as a crash unfolds (and this includes the incident in which he had time to consider things as his Formula Ford sailed twenty feet into the air) are:

      a) This is going to be f**king expensive.
      b) My race is shot.
      c) It’s going to take a long time to fix the car.
      d) This is going to be f**king expensive.

      If you’re a driver, you’re not considering danger in the first place – if you are, you shouldn’t be (and probably won’t be, or won’t be for long) a driver.

      In the absence of concern for your personal fate, the obvious remaining factor is how this turn of events will affect your current and future race results.

      There are likely some exceptions, however.

      Herr Schumacher probably thinks, “Honestly, with more weight to the rear and more wing on the front, I think this could have been avoided.”

      And Raikkonen probably thinks, “Think so race is over. F**king car. Wine or liquor? Think so both.” Then he takes a nap while he waits for the crash to finish.

      • RacingForIndia said on 1st April 2011, 6:58

        Good one mate!
        The only road accident I had, I saw my life flash in front of my eyes, and the impact came sooner than expected. All thoughts vanish once the pain hits :-)

      • ante said on 1st April 2011, 10:33

        In 2008 I won a contest and drove both a formula Renault, and a F1 car (Prost) on Magny Cours (Small track next to M-C.) I am a complete amateur. I crashed the renault car as I missed the braking point on the hair pin and went sideways on the grass for about 100 meters. Million thoughts went trough my head, one was, this is expensive, other was, You idiot! I let everything go and I was just waiting for the thing to start rolling. By the grace of God it hasn’t. But I know how the driver feels when he makes a mistake. ( the tires were cold. LOL) F1 car is something crazy, with so much G force that I was having trouble breathing after 5 laps. It is so fast, brakes so fast that from then in I admire every driver for his courage, even if he’s the worst of the lot.

    • Steven Lyne said on 27th January 2013, 14:16

      He actually couldn’t steer into the slide, he had no front wheels ha

  2. Stephen Jones (@aus_steve) said on 31st March 2011, 10:36

    very funny! especially the shopping trollie part.. never thought of it that way!

  3. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 31st March 2011, 10:36

    “My sources in the paddock tell me you support Partick Thistle, is that true?”


  4. Todfod (@todfod) said on 31st March 2011, 10:40

    I guess driving the fastest cars in the world, and getting paid millions for it, more than makes up for those 10 reasons.

    Although the ‘jet lag’ and no ‘out of hours’ fun sounds kind of painful.

  5. RIISE (@riise) said on 31st March 2011, 10:41

    Who the hell wants Sutil’s signature? =P

  6. The PR stuff I think is the worst part.
    Hats of to the drivers who speak multiple languages, it is very impressive

  7. F1iLike said on 31st March 2011, 10:44

    Ten reasons why I don’t? 100 million reasons I want to! ( no 100 million doesn’t refer to the money ;) the money is not even half a reason )

    • Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 1st April 2011, 12:42

      I agree, in fact I’d quite happily be a racing driver in return for a salary £30k salary + guaranteed pension once I retire from the sport and all my travel expenses paid for me.

      I’d also be an MP for the same conditions – though of course there’s less work but more PR as an MP!!

  8. consi (@consi) said on 31st March 2011, 10:52

    And not forgetting the years of dedication before getting to F1. Karting, lower formulae, living out of a van/tent/caravan/motorhome – depending on your budget – come rain or shine. It’s something that must take over their lives from a very early age.

    • Henry said on 31st March 2011, 11:27

      I think for all sportsmen there is that sense of dedication of their lives from an early age to one path…and of course if you make it fo F1 you have made it, great. But just take a minute to think about the hundreds of damn fast drivers who only make it to GP2, or Formula 3…or not even that far. Imagine the fear of failure: from the age of 10 to 21 dedicated to racing, aiming for F1, then get there, get handed a ‘trolly’ instead of a car, get chucked out…

      I want to see Grosjean given a second chance. (completely off topic, but I thought he deserved better.

      • graigchq (@graigchq) said on 31st March 2011, 14:11

        yep, off topic, but i agree. His recent foray into GT1 (winning his first race) and subsequently GP2 (winning races after joining mid-season) surely shows he is worth another shot and Briatore was wrong.
        come to think of it, briatore is wrong about lots of things. Didn’t he say yesterday that after just one race of the new season, Ferrari should forget about 2011 and concentrate on 2012? This is coming from a man who thought it was a good idea to cheat to win races. his view surely counts for nothing at all and Grosjean should be given another shot.

        • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 31st March 2011, 17:52

          Briatore is the biggest idiot F1 has seen in years. He thought he could run a team like a decadent mob boss and he finally got his comeuppance for it.

          I am so glad he is gone. Though it makes me sad he still manages Webber and Webber is loyal to him, I would think an outspoken, awesome guy like Webber would ditch that old creep.

  9. Ever noticed how often drivers on Twitter tell us they’ve just been training?

    Yes, I do… so much so that I’ve unfollowed many F1 drivers, most notable Janson Button, because all they ever tweet is how far they’ve (and their girlfriend, and best mate) just run. Well done.

  10. karan01 (@karan01) said on 31st March 2011, 11:03

    Top 3 reasons you want to be an F1 driver:

    – Women

    – Money

    – Women

  11. Charlie said on 31st March 2011, 11:11

    Surely the worst thing about the press is (a) having to say the same thing one hundred times to endless different national media companies about how you won the race (the guys at the factory did a great job) or why you didn’t win the race (Couldn’t get enough heat into the tyres) and (b) being misquoted so the media can find something exciting to write about and having your words twisted out of all recognition. Recent examples: Hamilton: Red Bull is just a drinks company and I am like Senna.

    • Or doing the premiership footballer thing of giving a candid interview to the foreign press and then saying you’ve been misquoted in the translation

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 31st March 2011, 15:27

      Always reminds me of the beginning of this interview. Wise words indeed!

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 31st March 2011, 17:56

      What F1 needs is a real comedian. Someone who will ham it up and poke fun at all the silly and endless Sponsor and Media stuff. I think the fans would love it, and the paddock, especially the drivers embrace it as it would lighten the usually serious and somber mood.

      Sometimes I feel all of us can use a reminder that this is all originally about having fun, about that primal, indispensable joy of going fast.

      • dyslexicbunny said on 31st March 2011, 18:30

        Sorry. Chad Johnson is currently on the reserve team for Sporting Kansas City in MLS.

        For those that aren’t in the States, he’s an American football player that pokes fun at all sorts of things. He tried to bribe an official with $1 to change a call. He has been fined for excessive touchdown celebrations as well. He changed his name to “Ocho Cinco”.

        As for why he’s on a soccer team, the NFL is likely not happening in 2011. They actually say he’s got good potential as a soccer player because of his athleticism and ease to coach. But I don’t know if he’d be a good enough driver for F1. I think it’s the attitude you want though.

      • Jay_au (@jay) said on 1st April 2011, 10:57

        I thought Seb showed signs of this at first, but once he got a taste of success (& a few mechanical failures) he went from jovial to super serious.

  12. I can sacrifice those 10 against for the millions reason for :) Being participant of a crash is not a good feeling, I agree.

    • Henry said on 31st March 2011, 11:29

      love Webber’s comment after his mid-air flip last year – ‘this is Formula one, these things happen!’ So casual about flipping a car at 200mph!

  13. Dan Newton said on 31st March 2011, 11:20

    I’d just hate the media, probably give a few Kimi inspired answers. Plus the fact that I like a drink, a smoke and a take away and my neck would snap after one lap- I don’t think its the career for me.

  14. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 31st March 2011, 11:20

    What must have been going through Sebastien Buemi’s mind when both his front wheels came off at 200mph during practice at Shanghai last year?

    I have no idea.

    But I like to think it was this.

  15. Eggry (@eggry) said on 31st March 2011, 11:26

    Kennedy assassination! lol

  16. Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 31st March 2011, 11:30

    Could someone explain to me the whole Montoya tennis thing that keeps popping up in what i read from time to time?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Allegedly the ‘tennis’ incident occurred while he was riding a motocross bike. The truth has never been officially confirmed.

    • Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 31st March 2011, 11:37

      The problem in my case is that i don’t recall the background/context/time of the story, let alone separate rumours vs truth.

      • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 31st March 2011, 11:39

        Montoya missed two races near the start of 2005 due to injury. He claimed that he had hurt his shoulder playing tennis.

        However, rumours at the time circulated that he had actually fallen off a motocross bike, but withheld this information from McLaren because Ron Dennis wouldn’t have been best pleased at what JP had been up to in his spare time.

      • Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 31st March 2011, 11:44

        It was when De La Rosa stepped in to race for McLaren for the first time, was it?
        Thanks a lot, i remember now.

        • RBAlonso said on 31st March 2011, 13:50

          Great article Ben!

          Playing Devils advocate do you think Montoya could have stayed with McLaren had the injury not happened?

          Also, where would that leave Lewis?

          I know the reasons he left were because he was arguing with the team, but this really started it and was followed up by races in Turkey, Belgium and Japan which would not please Ron! lol

          Slightly off topic, but got me thinking

          • I think its unlikely that JPM would have stayed with McLaren long, he was far better suited tempramentally to racing in the US. I met him a few times pre-F1 and he was a really nice guy, and you could see how much his temper shortened while he was in F1. Now in NASCAR he seems to have recovered some of his relaxed demenour.

            As for Lewis, I think it had been anticipated for a long, long time that he would graduate to F1 with McLaren. I remember his first F3 race at Brands in 2003, and that was a big story then, and that was coming off a lot of hype from two years in F Renault. The only real wobble was probably in 2004 when his first season in F3 Euroseries wasn’t as dominant as expected.

          • DaveW said on 31st March 2011, 15:51

            The 05 car was not that great either. Further, it apparently had a very understeery basic character that favored Kimi. He was not disposed to developing a car designed for Raikkonen, and riding in the midfield in the process.

            But if you only saw Montoya literally drifting his car through the short-chute at Indy, you would know that one of the possibly greatest talents ever in a race car did not fulfill his potential.

          • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 31st March 2011, 18:02

            The loss of Montoya to Nascar is one of the worst things to happen to F1 in the past decade. In no way did he fulfill his potential and instead of trying to find a way to accommodate one of the most talented and exciting drivers in years Ron Dennis just argued him out of F1.

            When you look at all the drivers McLaren had around the middle of the decade you wonder how on earth they didn’t win more championships. I mean they had DC (in his good days) Kimi, Montoya, Alonso, Hamilton and all they had to show for it was a WDC with Hamilton.

          • RBAlonso said on 31st March 2011, 23:42

            I agree Adam and for some part at least Newey!

  17. box this lap (@sebashuis) said on 31st March 2011, 11:45

    Imagine when you are Liuzzi. Last weekend he experienced everything in the article and wasn’t even allowed to race.

  18. “What must have been going through Sebastien Buemi’s mind when both his front wheels came off at 200mph during practice at Shanghai last year?”

    “Why am I still trying to steer the car even though the wheels have come off ?”

  19. Klon (@klon) said on 31st March 2011, 12:06

    Had to check the address first – thought I was on cracked.com. :-D
    No, honestly, a very amusing article and shows everything in life has its disadvantages. Something else about the fans – if somebody of us would become a F1 driver we’d still visit fansites. Wouldn’t seem so nice if some posters would deride us at any given opportunity.

    Alexandre Premat’s dismissal from Audi for running a marathon

    Admittedly though, I would bet that was just an excuse to release him, Prémat was pretty bad in his DTM effort of 2010, (even) worse than Ralf Schumacher over the year.

  20. semirossi (@semirossi) said on 31st March 2011, 12:14

    I’d take 100 more reasons to turn me off.

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