Being an F1 marshal grants you the best seat in the house to witness the thrilling spectacle of F1 unfold right before your eyes; And the best part? You don’t need niche skills or relevant experience to join. Anyone with a big love for the sport that’s physically fit enough to keep up with the demands of such a fast-paced sport can get started.
As a marshal, you’re an essential component in a Formula 1 race weekend. Without the hard work of the marshals placed all around the track, working in perfect synchronicity with each other – F1 wouldn’t happen.
Everything from deploying flags to drivers on track, to clearing debris and helping remove wrecked cars, marshaling is a wonderfully-mixed bag of adrenaline-filled opportunities boasting unlimited potential. And with such a broad scope of roles available to fans just like you – there isn’t another F1 job that offers you the chance to get up-close and personal with the cars and the drivers.
So if you’re reading this because you’re interested in becoming a marshal at one of the F1 races, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll spill the beans on everything you need to know about becoming a marshal in the exciting world of F1, covering what you need to get started, before offering some tips to ensure your best chances of success.
What is a marshal?
At motorsport events, marshals are also known as “race officials”, and can be identified by their iconic bright orange overalls. The purpose of F1 marshals is to ensure that the safety of drivers, spectators, and all other persons at the venue is upheld at all times.
To handle such an enormous responsibility, the marshals are divided into a range of teams, from the start-line crew to incident officers and medical staff, each and every marshal works tirelessly around the clock to ensure track sessions run as smoothly and safely as possible.
F1 marshals are highly respected in the sport, and never fail to keep the fans going with their humorous trackside antics, especially during lulls in the action due to bad weather. After all, someone that’s courageous enough to stand inches away from F1 cars passing at speed all day long without ever asking for a cheque is someone that lives and breathes the sport.
Who can be a marshal?
The requirements to become a marshal are very minimal, you can start as young as 11-years old (accompanied by an adult), with marshals as old as 70, still doing their bit for the sport!
We all know motor racing is dangerous, and inherently the closer you are to the cars and the action, the more danger you are exposed to. So, while you could say that anyone can become a marshal, there are some personal traits that would definitely prove beneficial to an aspiring marshal.
An ideal candidate should be:
- Physically fit – Working as a marshal you’ll most likely be on your feet all day. There will be plenty of walking and standing around, aside from that you could be required to carry out other manual tasks such as moving cars, clearing debris, sweeping the track and helping to move equipment around. You’ll be the first out on the track and the last to leave, so keep that in mind!
- Passionate about F1 – Marshals don’t do what they do for money, they take up the role because they love F1 just as much as the average fan – if not more! Helping out as a marshal might not put money in your pocket, but you will gain unique experience that will stay with you forever and it will let you enjoy a rare perspective of F1 racing that most will never get the chance to experience in their lifetime.
- Great listener and communicator – The world of F1 moves fast, really fast. This means you have to bring your “A-game”, every time. You’ll always be ready for the next instruction or snippet of information coming in over the radio. Not only will you receive a lot of information, you might be required to respond too, with clear, accurate information that helps race control decide on the best course of action.
- Able to follow rules/instructions – As a marshal, it’s your responsibility to keep others safe, and also yourself. It’s vital to operate within the rules of being a marshal in order to keep yourself and others safe. Listening to and following the instructions of your team members, without question, is crucial to ensuring your own safety.
- Able to work under pressure – Formula seemingly never stops until the weekend is over. We’ve all witnessed how turbulent and unpredictable F1 races can be, and sometimes it’ll be you that has to spring into action and carry out your duties while a number of other things are happening around you. Being able to stay calm and collected during times of chaos will help keep you complete your task more efficiently, while keeping yourself and others safe.
Do F1 marshals get paid?
F1 marshals are volunteers that offer their own time and dedication in exchange for a very opportunity to experience F1 in a way like no other. While there is progression within the world of motorsport marshals, most do it for the unique opportunities it brings, as well as the knowledge you were a part of the secret sauce that made the F1 race happen and run as smoothly as it did.
What types of marshals are there in F1?
Unbeknownst to most, the teams of marshals handle a diverse range of elements that are key to the smooth running of an F1 event. Some of the different types of marshal/race official are:
- Sector and track marshals – Typical duties for marshals working in sectors or track side in marshal posts include: opening the track, clearing debris, informing race control of incidents within your sector.
- Flag/Digital flag marshals – We’ve all seen these marshals perched behind the barrier all around the track, it’s their responsibility to display Yellow, Green and Blue flags around the circuit. Some marshals use the traditional flag, while others use a digital screen to inform drivers of a change on the track.
- Pit and lattice marshals – Working exclusively in the pit lane and around the paddock, you could be helping to setup areas, or alternatively move equipment and resources from one place to another.
- Firefighter and rescue marshals – Situated around the track, these marshals have the special task of attending to incidents involving cars where fire or other hazards could be present.
I want to become a marshal, can I jump straight into F1?
Can you become an F1 marshal straight off the bat? Well, it depends entirely on which track you are applying to become a marshal with. Most often, F1 marshals have many hours under their belt, marshaling in club-level races and semi-pro events before they enter the upper-echelons of Formula 1. There is a lot of training required to be a marshal, but it’s by no means an obstacle.
Upon closer inspection, there are circuits, like Baku, in Azerbaijan, that allow prospective marshals to apply online through their websites. One would expect that having some marshaling experience under your belt might significantly improve your chances of getting accepted, but there’s nothing to say you need any experience or qualifications as such to apply.
Being a marshal isn’t for everyone
Now that we’ve explored the many ins-and-outs of what it takes to be a marshal at an F1 race, it’s evident that there’s much more involved in becoming an F1 marshal than simply loving the sport and being within traveling distance of a race track. Marshals work extremely hard for very long hours, with few opportunities to sit down or take a break from the action.
More importantly – it’s a dangerous job, and one should only get started on their own journey to becoming a marshal if they are confident and accepting of the fact that you will be much closer to danger than in your everyday life.
Saying that, if you’re still convinced you to want to give it a go, and reading this article has only added more fuel to your fire, the first step you can take is to locate and make contact with marshal clubs and local race tracks in your area to find out how you can help and what you need.
We wish you the best of luck with your journey, stay safe.
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