Updated: Feb 28, 2022
Written by Tom Evans, Edited by Harshi Vashee
Football. Tennis. Cricket. All sports (but I’m sure you noticed that) that are reasonably easy to get into. Just buy a ball, racket or bat and show up to a school club or practice yourself. All pretty easy to get into, and definitely obtainable for most people/most people’s parents to get their children into. But Motorsport is very special in that particular aspect. You need to have a lot of talent, time but most importantly, money.
And not everyone has a large amount of it so, I’m sure it pains quite a few Motorsport fans that the best racing driver of all time could be sitting at a desk in an office block somewhere.
I’m going to run through exactly how difficult it really is to have a successful career in Motorsport.
The very first stage in a young driver’s journey, and you might think that it is relatively cheap, and to start off you’d be right (well ish). One season of rental karting in the UK will cost you around £2,000 or $2,800. That is still not cheap at all but for Motorsport that’s a great starting point.
As you start to progress up the ranks, it becomes more and more expensive. You’ll need to start buying gear such as a kart, racing helmet, suit, gloves and new sets of tyres will cost you upwards of £12,000 or $16,000. For most people that’s an absurd amount of money and we are only just getting started.
Let’s say that in our hypothetical situation, you have a very successful karting career in the UK and you decide that you want to go down the single seater route. If you want to be in a competitive field, with a decent car and the lowest price, the British F4 championship is for you. A season in this championship will cost you an eye watering £200,000 to £300,000 ($270,000 to $400,000). Even for the wealthy, without major sponsorship this is completely unobtainable.
The next obvious step would be to progress to the British F3 Championship, or GB3 as its now known as. The cost you may ask? Only £450,000 to £650,000 ($600,000 to $880,000).
Which is once again an insane amount of money, for a series that isn’t known around the world.
So you want a series which gives you world recognition? Well that’s going to cost you a whole lot more. Around £800,000 will get you a seat in a midfield FIA Formula 3 team. That’s roughly $1,000,000 for our American readers. And for a top team such as Prema or Trident that’ll be about £100,000 to £200,000 more.
Finally, the last step before Formula 1 is FIA Formula 2. There are a few cases of incredibly talented drivers not having the funds to get a seat in F2, most notably Logan Sargent (who you can read about in a recent article). And with a cost of £2,000,000 ($2,700,000) it’s not surprising that he couldn’t make the step up.
As you can see, single seaters is a rough road for any motorsport prospect to go down. So what are the alternatives?
British GT racing is a decent alternative with a decently competitive field. A season of that will cost around £75,000 or $100,000. This is still not cheap but compared to the price of an entry level single seater series, relatively cheaper.
However, Formula Ford is a single seater series which only costs about £30,000 per season, but the levels of competitiveness are much lower. But still a great alternative.
If you are REALLY strapped for cash, you can enter Formula Vee, the cheapest single seater racing series in the world. You can buy one of their cars for under £10,000, and to enter per year is around £5,000 including crash damages (if you know how to drive properly).
Overall, motorsport is one of the harshest sports in the world, where the amount of money you have is more important than how good you are. So if you’re looking into something like this, I hope you take this article into account!