Off the racetrack, F1 drivers live the lives of the glitterati, from first-class travel to moneyed capitals Monaco and Dubai to tabloid covers with pop stars. But what does life actually look like for the average driver, behind the racetrack?
Training and Preparation
Between and before races, a driver’s life is given to training and preparation. Describing F1 racing as a sport is painfully accurate, if only with regard to the sheer physicality of driving an F1 vehicle. Between the lightning-fast reflexes required, the high g-forces experienced and the strength required to even push the pedals, F1 drivers need all the training they can get to contend properly.
Travel is a vital part of Grand Prix preparation, as swift arrival at each international location enables drivers to dedicate the right time and energy to everything demanded of them. It is for this reason that so many rely on private jet hire to fly between races in speed and convenience – a relationship exemplified by Scuderia Ferrari’s longstanding partnership with VistaJet.
On the F1 Circuit
The F1 itself is a circuit in its own right, comprising dozens upon dozens of tracks around the globe – 23 of which feature each year in a given Championship. Navigating this circuit is a very different skill to navigating the racetrack, with numerous factors affecting each driver’s experience of their season. For one, the tracks span continents and cultures alike, meaning different cultural demands and experiences for drivers.
For another, the F1 ‘circuit’ comes to mean much more than each of the races that constitute it. Drivers and teams are beholden to many people and organisations, from sponsors to press agencies, media commitments and well beyond. Team relations with press contacts are particularly important in helping to control narratives from the paddock; where poor press could negatively impact sponsorship deals or even the results of a race, having to pull press teams and journalists around the globe is nothing short of key.
A Symbiotic Machine
F1 teams are symbiotic systems, where harmony between the driver, engineering team and executive leadership is essential to the pursuit of victory. This is just as true behind the scenes as it is on the track, where television broadcasts often share the good, the bad and the ugly of driver communications with engineers.
Behind the scenes, race strategy goes hand in hand with vehicle technology. Engineers and drivers work closely to align the car’s handling and weight balance with the driver’s style, an iterative process that requires constant revisiting and tweaking throughout the season.
In the Off-Season
The F1 Championship runs for nine long months – but the time between championships is hardly time for the drivers to rest up. Indeed, these months are just as crucial as Championship months, though they come without any of the same glory. Sponsorship bids, training sessions, media updates; the F1 machine keeps ticking over until it becomes time to globe-trot again!