Journey from karting to f1 driver

Members Karting Session At TeamSport

How to become an F1 Driver

17 May 2024

Does your child live and breathe racing, and are they desperate to know how to become an F1 driver? Supporting that dream is so exciting and rewarding as a parent, but you might feel conflicted - how easy could it be to get into Formula 1, and where would you even start? 

Well, why not start with go-karting?

With indoor go-karting venues across the UK, and go karting birthday parties becoming a more and more popular race with children, children are getting more opportunities than ever to understand what it feels like to be behind the wheel. 

As we explain in our blog on why go karting is the best school holiday activity for families, go-karting has many advantages for kids, such as building hand-eye coordination, increasing reaction times and learning to control a vehicle at speed. Most importantly, go-karting is an endlessly fun, exhilarating activity many children or young people can do with friends or family

While there isn’t a predefined route for how to become a Formula 1 driver, many of the most famous F1 drivers started with karting! By joining indoor and outdoor go-karting racing as kids, legendary F1 racers found their need for speed and set the foundations to become the racing superstars we know today.

Read on to learn which F1 drivers started their careers with go-karting, and how to become an F1 driver.

F1 Drivers and Go-Karting: How have famous F1 drivers benefited from go-karting?

The passion for racing for many F1 drivers began at a young age as they tried go-karting for the first time. Each racer has had their own journey from the karting track to the F1 racing circuit, and we’ve shared some incredible examples of racers who have experienced that journey.

Lewis Hamilton (7 World Championships)

One of the world’s most famous racers, Lewis Hamilton, began with go-karting if you can believe it! At five, he got a radio-controlled car and began competing in championships with some success. His go-karting career began at age 8, the minimum age for kids to go karting

How did he get into Formula 1 from there? At age 13, after winning multiple karting championships, he was noticed by the Mclaren team and signed up for the Mclaren Driver Development Programme.

As you already know, Hamilton took the Formula 1 world by storm, braking records and becoming renowned as the highest-paid driver on the grid. Without starting on the go-kart track as a child, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to refine his talent early on and achieve F1 success.

Michael Schumacher (7 World Championships)

Go-karting was a part of Michael Schumacher's life from a very young age as his dad, Rolf Schumacher, built him a kart at just 4 years old. As an engineering enthusiast, Rolf modified his son’s pedal kart with a motorcycle engine - Michael would eventually use this incredible kart on a go-karting track! At 6, he became the youngest racer to join the Kerpen-Horrem karting club and win his first-ever championship.

Michael got involved in more and more karting competitions, proving his remarkable gift for racing. At 12, he went to Luxembourg to get his karting license, as the minimum age was 14 in his home country of Germany. 

By age 20, Michael signed with the Formula 3 team, winning the title the next year and gaining a reputation as the one to beat. By 1990, he won the World Sportscar Championship, and entered Formula One the following year.

Sebastian Vettel (4 World Championships)

Sebastian Vettel fell in love with go-karting at just 3 years old! By the age of 8, that passion was thriving, and he was racing go-karts in competitions and winning first place in many. 

When he was 11, the Red Bull Junior Team spotted his talent, and there he developed into the successful racer he is today. Vettel had a natural racing skill from a young age, and that commitment to go karting helped him develop his craft.

Max Verstappen (2021, 2022, 2023 World Champion)

Son of the former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen, Max Verstappen was practically destined for the race track from the moment he was born. 

He began racing at 4 years old, had a karting career in Belgium, and won numerous championships. Winning in the Dutch Minimax competition in 2007 at age 10 is what set him up for success; his go-karting career continued until 2013 when he switched to cars, and today is known as a fierce driver on the track.

Considering his success after success in 2014, he raced in the Formula 3 European championship and a year later became the youngest-ever Formula 1 driver.

Ayrton Senna (3 World Championships)

Ayrton Senna’s love for go-karting began when, as a toddler, his dad built his first go-kart using a lawnmower and taught Senna How to operate it. He used to play with his neighbours in this kart, sometimes racing up to 60kph. 

Even though he figured out how to become an F1 driver and achieved incredible success, Senna described go-karting as ‘the purest driving experience’. He succeeded in many racing championships, but to him, his love of go-karting is everything and the heart of his racing career.

TeamSport E-Karting

How to Become an F1 Driver:

Many children and young adults come through our doors, asking us how to become a Formula 1 driver. Now you know that many of the greatest racers of this century found their start on the go-karting tracks, using the sport to build essential skills like overtaking, cornering, defending, and more.

With the expertise of the racing experts at TeamSport on your side, the path to getting into Formula 1 will be clear.

To help your child on their racing journey we’ve created our Race Academy, which operates across all of our indoor circuits on Sundays and Mondays.

Once you’ve committed, they will receive expert tuition and tons of opportunities to practice their skills. From the fundamentals of track safety to the racing line, they’ll discover How to Drive Like a Pro and discover how to turn their favourite hobby into their future! Starting with go-karting can help your children follow in the footsteps of the most remarkable F1 drivers in history.

If this isn’t right for your family, we offer an array of racing types and sessions for beginners to those more experienced in our 40+ indoor go karting tracks across the UK. Contact us today and book a session suitable for you.