Hello friends and welcome to Post-F1 Paths, a mini series brought to you by Sidepodcast that tracks some of the options available to drivers once their career in Formula One is over – either by choice or not. Yesterday we talked about drivers who find it hard to cut ties with the sport, but today it’s a group that have turned their attentions to other endeavours – this is the entrepreneur.
F1 drivers live life somewhat in a bubble. They work hard, train hard, drive hard, but spend almost all of their time focused on finding speed – whether it is from improving their own body and skills, or spending time with the team and engineers on patching up the car. The amount of time and effort that goes into a Formula One career cannot be understated, but it can be lacking in the bigger picture, having a view of life outside the paddock. You learn a lot from a career in F1, but it can be hard to translate that to outside interests.
Some do succeed, however, and have managed to put motorsport behind them to focus on building a business in a totally separate walk of life. There are three business options that have appeared to be the most popular amongst former F1 drivers, the first being to open up an airline.
Spending so much time jetsetting around the world must give drivers something of an idea how the airline industry works, and what customers actually want from a trip across the ocean. Niki Lauda quite famously created Lauda Air which he ran for twenty years before selling up to Austrian Airlines. The brand eventually ceased flying in 2013. Thierry Boutsen, an F1 driver in the 1980s, formed a company, Boutsen Aviation, to buy and sell planes, from corporate jets to smaller private aircraft.
Another outlet for the former-racer-turned-businessman is selling cars. Who has more knowledge about a quality automobile than someone who used to race them for a living? Legendary champion Juan Manuel Fangio owned a Mercedes dealership and became a huge ambassador for the brand, eventually being appointed the President of Mercedes-Benz Argentina. British driver Tony Brooks ran a Ford garage for many years.
It’s not just about selling things that already exist, either. Some have the ability to innovate and create products that were never there before. Nelson Piquet Sr, after a successful stint in Formula One, founded the company Autotrac, which pioneered technology that could aid with satellite mapping and tracking on Brazilian freight trucks.
But, perhaps drivers get fed up with the fast pace of life in F1, with the smoke and dust and petrol fumes. That would explain why moving out to the countryside holds such appeal, with Argentinian driver Carlos Reutemann spending his time on a farm, and also embarking on various political endeavours. Jody Schekter’s successful farm produces organic meat for organic burgers that have even been spotted on sale in the Silverstone paddock.
It doesn’t all have to be about business, of course. There’s also the creative side of being an entrepreneur. Many, many drivers write autobiographies about their time in the sport. Most wait until they’ve finished like Mark Webber, but some, including Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, release works whilst they are still driving but have achieved an order of success that would be worth writing about.
Some drivers even turn their talents to more musical pastimes, with Jacques Villeneuve and Jaime Alguersuari releasing albums of a very different nature. Hamilton also dabbles in music as well as books, but has said that his songs are just for his ears only, so perhaps we won’t see an album from the world champion any time soon.
So, although on the surface it doesn’t seem easy to transition out of motorsports to the corporate or creative world, there’s clearly a discipline that allows for F1 drivers to turn their hands to other endeavours. From buying and selling, to farming, to singing, there’s something out there for everyone.
Thanks for listening to this, the second episode of Post-F1 Paths. We have completed two potential second careers for drivers, and have five more still to come. Can you guess what any of them might be? Let me know at sidepodcast.com/contact, and please do send me your feedback about the topics covered so far. I’ll be back tomorrow with the third episode.
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Filed under Mini Series
References Jaime Alguersuari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber
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