x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

How to be a racing car driver

How to in the UAE: Anyone can become a racing car driver in the UAE after a few tests are passed.

Kids from eight year olds can start racing mirco karts and then progress to the mini max kart series in the UAE.
Kids from eight year olds can start racing mirco karts and then progress to the mini max kart series in the UAE.

Anyone can become a racing car driver in the UAE after a few tests are passed. Besides the obligatory amount of endless financing, drivers can race for years.

Kids from eight year olds can start racing mirco karts and then progress to the mini max kart series in the UAE.

"You don't need a licence and you can see if you have the aptitude for karting and if you feel you want to progress, you get sponsorship, which usually comes from the parents," Paul Velasco, Communications manager at Dubai Autodrome said.

From 12, they will compete for another two years in karting and if good enough, they'll gain more sponsorship to race in Europe. "It's a very expensive ladder," he said.

They then go to a racing team after three or four years in Europe karting.

Some can compete locally in Formula Gulf 1000 or continue in Europe and race in Formula Renualt, which is the breeding ground for many Formula One drivers.

"And that's pretty much it. They then race there for two to three years and by the time they're 19 or 20 and blown about $10 million they can bring about $5m worth of sponsorship to GP2 for a year or two. Then they have to get noticed to go to F1 or get $10m to race in a back marker F1 team," Mr Velasco said.

To start racing in the UAE, a competition licence needs to be obtained from the the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, where all licences are produced.

For first time licence holders, they must pass an accredited licencing course. To race nationally, they need an FIA licence, for karting, racers have to apply for a CIK licence while the national road races, an FIM licence is required.

Drivers must pass a medical test. If drivers are not Emirati, the ATCUAE must apply to the driver's home country for a letter of non objection to hold a UAE Competition Licence.

eharnan@thenational.ae