It’s a long way to the top if you want to make it to Formula 1 or even some of the other top global motorsport series.
If a driver makes it, they join an exclusive club in a sport that has arguably the smallest amount of athletes of any global sport at the top level. Just think about rugby, football, athletics, golf and basketball there are literally hundreds of elite participants all chasing the top prizes, the biggest cups and the most prestigious championships. Just 20 drivers more often than not compete for the FIA Formula One World Championship and even then, it’s an extremely long and challenging road they face.
Formula 1 is as exclusive as it gets. There are other top series, including IndyCar and the FIA World Endurance Championship where drivers can become major champions, recognised sporting greats and indeed forge successful and lucrative careers but Formula 1 cars remain the quickest machines on the planet around a given circuit.
The top level attracts the most interest globally. It also attracts the most money and the biggest sponsors. Many ex-F1 drivers who forged careers and won championships in IndyCar or the World Endurance Championship only did so because – for whatever reason – they could no longer sustain a career in Formula 1.
All drivers around the world competing in the sport go through a surprisingly large amount of feeder series as they target the top of the sport and of course that is a process which can take many years. The FIA has an official ranking for those feeder series, in terms of the scope of the championship and the performance of the car. It calls this its Global Pathway and in essence it can be considered a road map from the bottom of the racing ladder to the final stepping stone before F1 – the FIA Formula 2 category. The better drivers win Super Licence points on the way and when they have amassed 40 points (25 to test or practice), they qualify for the FIA Super Licence, an essential pre-requisite before they will be allowed to race in Formula 1 Grand Prix events.
At the bottom of the FIA ladder there are many categories to choose from and the choice of suitable series on the pathway decreases as the driver progresses through the sport. From a graphic perspective it thus becomes a racing pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid, you have multiple and quite varied options for getting into racing, almost all of which involve karting.
Once a driver has served their time in karting and hopefully achieved some success and knowledge about racing, then they can progress through local, national or even international championships, all the time looking at progressing up the ladder and eventually making it to Formula 1.
Below is a list of some of the most notable racing series that form part of the FIA pathway to Formula 1 and that can reward drivers with points toward their Super Licence. These are reflective of both the performance of the vehicle used in the championships and the ability required to win in that championship and where it could sit on an individual’s pathway to Formula 1.
With the FIA Formula 2 Championship as the recognised conventional final step before Formula 1 and a ‘Tier 1’ category, the Toyota Racing Series has been recognised by the FIA as a Tier 3 level category. There are other categories that qualify for Super Licence points but this is where the new Toyota Racing Series car, the FT-60, will sit within the FIA Ladder compared to similar concept championships.
FIA Formula 2 Championship
FIA European Formula 3 Championship
FIA Formula E
Formula 3 Regional Championships
Formula Renault Eurocup
Castrol Toyota Racing Series New Zealand
FIA Formula 4 Championships
CIK-FIA Karting World Championship
CIK-FIA Karting Continental Championships