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How Did F1 Drivers Start Their Careers?

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. The grid is made up of some of the best
drivers in the world. These drivers have spent years perfecting their craft. Although we might only see them when they reach Formula 1, there are many years of hard work behind them.


Have you ever wondered how these drivers started their careers? Today we’ll be
looking at some of the biggest names in Formula 1, where they came from and how they got started on their road to F1. All drivers have their own unique paths that they have taken, but they all started in the same place, karting.

Daniel Ricciardo

Following Mark Webber’s exit from Formula 1, Daniel Ricciardo picked up the torch for Australia. The Aussie driver did not disappoint either. Known as the last of the late brakers, Ricciardo is infamous for his spectacular overtaking moves, often from great distances.


While Danny Ric may be a fierce driver on track, he is a fan favourite off track. Constantly smiling and cracking jokes, the public absolutely loves his personality. While this is great publicity for any team he drives for, it is also great marketing or Australia.


Daniel Ricciardo was born in Perth, Australia and he started his motorsport career at the age of 9. He was a member of the Tiger Kart Club where he took part in a number of competitive races around the country at the top National events. In 2005 Ricciardo made his first move into single seaters.


Ricciardo competed in the Australian formula Ford series. However, the 15-year-old car that he was leasing proved to be uncompetitive. He won a scholarship to participate in the Formula BMW Asia series in 2006.


Ricciardo moved through multiple series following the scholarship including Formula UK, Formula Renault, and Formula 3. However, it wasn’t until his time in Formula Renault 3.5 when he really started to impress. It was only three years later that he found himself in his first Formula 1 race.

Charles LeClerc

Charles Leclerc is the Ferrari prodigy from Monaco. With blistering pace on track and great race craft. Charles is part of the next generation of Formula 1 talents. He quickly rose through the ranks once he made his Formula 1 debut.


Spending only one season in Formula 1 before landing a seat with Ferrari. An extremely unusual tactic from Ferrari, who previously would only hire drivers who have years of experience in Formula 1. Clearly, a testament to his abilities behind the wheel. 

Leclerc was born in Monaco, and he started his career in karting at the age of 8. Charles has a long list of accomplishments in his karting career. He won his debut season in 2005, as well as 2006 and 2008. Leclerc has now teamed up with Birel Art, to produce his own line of karts showing
his support to the younger generation similar to what Ricciardo and Alonso have done. 

On top of that, he won multiple other karting championships including the WSK Euro series and finishing runner up in the under 18 karting world championships. Following this success, Charles moved up to single seaters in 2014 at the age of 17. 

He spent the following three years moving quickly through single seater series including Formula Renault, Formula Three, GP3
and Formula 2. After winning the Formula 2 championship in 2017, Leclerc was given the seat at Sauber for the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Lando Norris

Like Leclerc, Norris is also part of the next generation of talents to enter Formula 1. Since joining Formula 1 with Mclaren, the young Brit has impressed with his on-track performances. He has received tons of praise from pundits and drivers.


Lando is also a fan favourite because of his personality. He uses modern humour to connect with his fan base, and he can often be found streaming live video games when he’s not at a race track. Lando is part of the resurgence of the legendary Mclaren team. The last time we saw a young rookie British driver join Mclaren was Lewis Hamilton in 2007, a sign of things to come perhaps?
Lando was born in 1999 and actually started his career with bikes. He switched interest to karting after spectating a Super 1 National Karting Championship. Lando started karting at the age of 7, and he took pole position in his first ever race.


In 2014 Lando became the youngest karting World Champion when he won
the CIK-FIA KF World Championship. Only a year later he moved into cars, racing in the Ginetta Junior Championship, MSA Formula Championship, and in multiple Formula 4 championships.


Lando also competed in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, Formula Renault 2.0, and Formula 3. In 2017, Lando raced in Formula 3 with spectacular results. He won the championship with two races to go. The following year he graduated to Formula 2, however this proved to be more challenging. He finished third behind George Russell and Alex Albon. In 2019 he made his debut for Mclaren.

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen is a mighty racing driver. A fierce driver on track, he is known to be more aggressive in his driving style and his race craft. This makes his incredibly fast, but also more prone to making mistakes. 

Son of former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen, Max was groomed for Formula 1 from a young age. The focus was becoming a Formula 1 world champion from the moment he was born. His father pushed him hard to become a success. 

Max was born in 1997 and started racing from the young age of 4. He started his karting career in Belgium and won multiple championships in the Belgian and Dutch championships. 

In 2010 Max took to international karting,
becoming a CRG factory driver. Max went on to win multiple international
championships for the next four years. 

In 2014 Max took part in his first single
seater race in the Florida Winter Series. He won his first single seater race in his second race weekend in a single seater car. During the 2014 season Max also raced in the Formula 3 European championship. Only a year later he would go on to become the youngest ever Formula 1 driver.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is breaking records that no one ever believed would be broken. Taking the world of Formula 1 by storm, Lewis is firmly cementing his position as a legend of the sport. The Briton has been with Mercedes for his entire career including the factory team and the Mercedes powered Mclaren team.


Lewis is the highest paid and the most marketable driver on the grid. With many interests outside of the sport, Lewis has a massive fan base and a huge influence. Lewis is the first, and so far only black Formula 1 driver.


Lewis was born in 1985 and at the age of five he got a radio-controlled car. He competed in local championships with reasonable success. In 1993 he started his karting career and quickly got up to speed with winning races. Lewis went on to win multiple karting championships.


Mclaren team boss took notice of him and when he was 13 years old he was signed up the Mclaren driver development programme. Hamilton made his single seater debut in 2001 at the British Formula Renault Winter series.


After great success in multiple single seater series Lewis made his way to GP2 in 2006, where he impressed the world with his skills. Mclaren announced that he would replace the departing Kimi Raikonen in their car for the 2007 Formula 1 season.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso is a fan favourite on the Formula 1 grid. His unusual driving style has won him two world championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006. His return to Formula 1 in 2021 makes him one of the oldest and most experienced drivers on the grid. Fernando is nicknamed the Samurai thanks to his aggressive form of race craft. He isn’t afraid to fight for his position and bang wheels with his opponents while doing so. Fernando is an asset to any team.

This is proved by how many reputable teams have chased him for his signature on their contracts. Fernando was born in 1981 and began karting at the age of three. He started karting as a hobby to share with his father, who built the kart for his children. Fernando got his racing license at the age of five. Due to a lack
of finances, Fernando’s family was unable to buy rain tyres for him, meaning he and to learn to drive on a wet track using slick tyres. Fernando won his first race at the age of 7 and went on to win multiple championships after that as well. Due to a lack of finances, Fernando made his way into races through sponsorships and networking with karting drivers around him 


Thanks to his impressive performances in Spain, Fernando progressed to race in international karting tournaments in 1995, 1996, and 1997. Fernando made his debut in single seaters at the age of 17 in the Euro Open by Nissan. In the year 2000 he raced in the International Formula 3000 series. A year later in 2001, he made his Formula 1 debut with Minardi.

 

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