So, where do you start if you’d like to end up as the next Lewis Hamilton?
Lewis Hamilton just won the German Grand Prix, extending his run of victories to six out of the last seven races. He’s also one of the most well-known sporting celebrities on the planet, the face of numerous advertising campaigns, and doing pretty well financially. Most importantly, he gets to command some of the most sophisticated driving machines in the world.
So, where do you start if you’d like to end up as the next Lewis Hamilton? The common answer can also be a little frustrating: the place you need to start is ‘early’. Most professionals were weaned on racing, committing to the sport as young children and continuing to build their skills year-on-year. Of course, it’s never too begin to start playing catch-up.
The best place to start is on a karting circuit. Sound a little too removed from Formula 1? You might want to rethink that opinion; Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Schumacher, and Senna are just a small handful of racing luminaries who started their careers in karts.
Luckily, you should be able to build up your skills without venturing too far from your home or breaking the bank. With around 180 karting tracks in the UK, there are plenty of options for budding racers, and it typically only costs about £30 for over 30 ‘arrive and drive’ laps, with all equipment and clothing provided as part of the price.
Racing karts is one of the best ways to hone your technique before investing seriously in motorsport, providing the kind of seat-of-your-pants practice and real-life experience that is crucial to progressing. Once you’ve spent a few weekends tearing up the track, you might want to consider taking a look at booking a few hours in a simulator.
Greats such as Schumacher might not have had these to learn on, and they were in their infancy even when Hamilton was taking strides forward, but technological advances have made it possible to experience just how it feels to control an F1 supercar. You’ll develop an appreciation of how they perform and understand more clearly how to find the fastest lines. Performance data provides crucial insights on how to improve your technique.
It might sound odd, but programs such as Nissan’s GT Academy now include an intense simulator training regime. There are around 10 UK centres where racers can immerse themselves, with an hour of digital racing coming in at around £175 per hour. That might sound steep, but think of it as a vital step towards pole position.