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I've been watching Formula One for the last 14 years. I have seen many drivers who came from the Driver Academies of Mercedes or Ferrari, with championship wins in GP3 and GP2. But when they enter into F1 they never ever win a race, let alone the championship.

Nico Hulkenburg is one such example. I enjoyed his driving, his radio messages, his style, but he never succeeded regularly. Jarno Trulli and Felipe Massa are other examples.

I think Mark Webber was an exceptional driver. But his car failed more than Vettel's did. Juan Pablo Montoya was absolutely fantastic but again, he never won the F1 Championship.

How does this whole thing work?
Should one be at the right place at the right time?
Or back-up?
Or is your hard work not the only thing?

Personal attributes, corporate inclination, political stand, nationality, media coverage?
It cannot be money. Lewis Hamilton is from a very humble background and he has won the F1 Championship many times. Timo Glock was his rival in GP2 but in F1, Lewis overshadowed him.

I checked the list of drivers who competed in the 2006 GP2 Series when Lewis won. Out of 27 drivers, only Lewis and Timo Glock made it to F1.

So what matters the most in getting success in F1?

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    There's the other side of this coin (people with talent that don't get to F1), like if your question were reversed. Consider Oscar Piastri: he won the F3 championship as a rookie in 2020, and he is about to win the F2 championship as a rookie again this year. We could be sure he will drive a F1 next year, couldn't we? He won't. And he might never will. Nov 12 at 10:48
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Racing isn’t cheap. To go racing you need money. As a result, making it to F1 and many other motorsport categories isn’t exclusively decided on success and talent.

Financial backing is also a major contributor in landing a seat in F1 by bringing personal sponsorship or money to a team with you, meaning we get drivers who are perceived to be so-called “pay drivers”. (And not all pay drivers are bad.)

This issue starts long before F1. Getting through the junior categories takes millions of pounds from karting to F1. The estimated costs for F1’s main feeder series, which has been F2/GP2/F3000 for several years now, is estimated in the millions per season. Formula Renault 3.5, which Vettel came through and the old F3, which Verstappen came through are not far behind in terms of cost.

You mentioned Hamilton. He is from relatively humble beginnings, the stories of his father Anthony Hamilton working 3 or 4 jobs to support his karting are the stuff of legend.

In Hamilton's case, his talent was spotted and as a result, he was signed up to the McLaren Junior program, which supported him on and off during in various junior single-seaters, including GP2, before they promoted him to the F1 team, where he would go on to become the single most successful driver of all time.

Without the financial support from McLaren and the luck to be signed up by them, Hamilton likely would never have graduated from karts.

Vettel was also from a relatively humble background. In Vettel’s case, he was part of the BMW and RedBull junior programs before being promoted to F1 and enjoying great success in F1.

Success in F1 requires a lot of things. The main 3 are money, luck and talent.

You need all 3 to succeed, but you don’t need all 3 to land a F1 seat. There have been many drivers over the years who either never made it to F1 or didn’t succeed in F1 because they only possessed 2 of these attributes.

The one thing that all successful F1 drivers have had, including those who graduated from F2/GP2/F3000 is that they poses all 3 attributes: Money, luck and a massive amount of talent.

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