November 29, 2020. The season-ender at the Bahrain International circuit. Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean crashed into the guardrails after turn 3 at more than 192 km/h (with a peak force of 67G- which practically means 67 times his body weight.) The car suffered extensive damage, split in half, and engulfed in flames almost instantaneously. Most fans including myself had our hearts in our mouths- concerned for the Frenchman stuck in the inferno.
But within seconds, 2 men rushed to the spot- trying to extinguish the fire and get Grosjean out of his car. After a long 15 seconds, they were able to help him out of the fire and out of danger- with only burns to his hands and a sprained foot. Those men are what makes the sport safer- The Marshals.
Most people think the remits of being an F1 Marshal is to clean up debris and help move cars stranded on the race track. While that is part of the job, being a Marshall is much more. They are essential in making sure each race weekend goes well, getting up and close with the racing action.
I’ll be very honest here, being an F1 Marshal is no simple task, but so is any other job in F1. However, with this job specifically, you have to ensure that all competitors are safe. In a way, you could say that the safety of the drivers is in your hands. (I don’t want to come across as pessimistic but just making sure that you are aware of the journey ahead of you.)
Pursuing a position as a Marshal in F1
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s go through the specifics of becoming a Marshall in F1.
Disclaimer – The information below is not intended to be a replacement for professional career advice:
What to study
Good news – You do not need any qualifications to become an F1 marshal. But this means that to filter out the numerous applications each circuit would receive before the race weekend, you should stand out from the crowd. In the context of F1, you should be ardent followers of the sport and do not expect them to take anyone who wants to be a marshal and put them on an F1 circuit, as you will need past marshaling experience in some shape or form.
What can you do to gain Marshaling experience?
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- You can gain experience at your local karting circuit or amateur racing circuit during race weekends, where you often won’t need to have any experience to become a marshal.
- Get certified in a Basic First aid course.
- Any previous Firefighting/Fire prevention qualification
This requirement is in place as F1 does not want to have inexperienced marshals who are still learning to be put on the biggest event that the track will be hosting. With Formula 1 drivers’ and other marshals’ lives at risk, you need to at least have some experience to handle the high-pressure situations in which you may find yourself.
Note that the requirements to become a Marshal during a race weekend would vary from track – and country. For instance, to be Marshal at the Formula 1 British Grand Prix you would need to graduate from a Registered Marshal to a Level 1 Registered Marshal which usually takes about 3 years depending on the number of days you marshal per year – you then apply to a selection committee.
Note: In reference to the Indian subcontinent: Since the Indian GP is not on the horizon for at least the next 5 years- the best chance for you to become an F1 Marshal would be at the Racetrack wherever you are pursuing a Master’s degree/ posted in your job. (Being in a UK-based university would make sure you have a better shot at getting in F1- depending on your networking and efforts.)
The following are a few traits and skill sets an individual should possess or achieve, should they consider to be an F1 Marshal:
- At least 18 years of age (If not, accompanied by an adult)
- Physically fit
- Passionate about F1
- Great listener and communicator
- Able to follow rules/instructions
- Should be an inherent problem solver, and should exhibit a sense of intrigue as to how things work around them.
- Should possess a sharp sense of detail and a high work ethic.
- Should be confident in their abilities.
- Should be able to work within a high-pressure environment.
- Chief Sector marshals.
- Track marshals.
- Digital flag marshals.
- Scrutineering marshals.
- Paddock and grid marshals.
- Rescue, Recovery, Pits, etc
Payscale details :
Marshaling is a volunteering activity and does not come under full-time or part-time jobs in the sport. The reward that comes with being a Marshal during a race week is the thrill that comes with it. It is expected to be carried out by men and women who will carry out their tasks in whatever weather conditions the race weekend may throw at them.
Having said that, the jobs do come with their set of perks :
- Free entrance to the racing event.
- Being placed in marshal sector posts offers some of the best views of the particular event.
- Being able to be among some of the most well-known motor racing personalities.
- Some circuits will provide free meals for the marshals.
- Some circuits provide a stipend payment that covers traveling costs.
Formula 1 does not pay marshals, and there are several reasons for this. The first is that there are simply too many of them. The average racetrack may have hundreds of marshals, with multiple being stationed at each corner and along the straights.
Marshals also are not paid as they should not be there to make some quick cash. These people are responsible for the safety of the drivers and ensuring that the event runs as smoothly as possible. For that to happen you need people who are passionate about the sport, and not just there to make money. Since marshals aren’t paid, there’s no reason for someone to do it unless they love the sport.
- Getting involved with a Formula Student team as soon as possible really helps you get some hands-on, practical experience in the field.
- Networking is key: Learn to use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with those working in F1 and those with a similar experience. This is especially important if you are located near an F1 racetrack.
- Make sure you follow the social media handles and websites of the races- they usually put out a call for Marshal’s way ahead of the actual race weekend.
- Look out for F1 clubs/ societies near you, and make sure you attend screenings: You never know who you might come across!
Some useful Reddit threads:
- Reddit pages : r/formula1 (https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/) and r/F1Technical (https://www.reddit.com/r/F1Technical/)
- Reddit AMA with an F1 Marshal: https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/cejbrf/im_a_formula_1_marshal_ask_me_anything/
- Yet another AMA: https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/l2gnhv/i_am_a_marshal_working_in_race_control_for_the/
The following blog post has been researched and written by Vishnu S, an F1 enthusiast and writer who is working his way towards working in Formula 1 before he turns 30. After graduating in Electrical Engineering from GEC Thrissur, Vishnu works as a Senior strategist in one of the leading EdTechs in India and reviews movies on the side.
This post has been edited for grammar and other inconsistencies. To learn how you can contribute to content creation at Formula Bharat, visit www.formulabharat.com/careers.