How to become a good driver
Here’s the answer to the question that everyone embarking on a racing career wants to know: how do I become a good driver? Some would say that you’re either born with the skills or not. In other words, you never become a good driver: you either are or you aren’t. But that simply isn’t true. In fact, whether you become a good driver or not is entirely within your control. But first you have to adjust your expectations and adopt these five crucial habits…
Develop ruthless honesty
Take a long hard look at yourself. And first of all, define what your meaning of “a good driver” is. A good driver is not necessarily a successful driver, and vice versa. Decide from the start what you want to achieve in racing and whether or not that goal is actually obtainable with the resources and talent that you have at your disposal. To make that key decision, you have to be entirely honest about yourself and your limitations. Then fix a realistic SMART goal. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and targeted.
Maximize your strengths
Having honestly assessed your weaknesses, now look at your strengths. Perhaps your driving talent is not at the same level as your rivals. But, more importantly, what do you do better than them? Maybe you are better-presented, a more eloquent talker, or a more likeable person. This will enable you to attract sponsorship and media coverage, advancing your career over those who have talent alone. Maybe you have better consistency. Find a way to keep on scoring points and you can win championships over more naturally talented rivals. Make the very most of what you’re good at.
Keep going to the gym
There’s no need to pretend you enjoy it: that doesn’t make you a better driver. But keep going anyway. Increased physical capacity gives you increased mental capacity – and that’s the crucial part that will make a much bigger difference than you think. Fitness is just a means to an end, so think of it as a tool. Nothing more, nothing less.
Get used to your own company
More time on your own makes you a better driver. Not only will avoiding parties and nights out make you more physically sharp, but time on your own will make you mentally stronger, allowing you to focus on those weaknesses and strengths. You don’t necessarily need monk-like levels of self-contemplation (but do adopt a monk-like bedtime and bank plenty of sleep). Instead, the time can be used to work out, improve your car, watch videos of past races, or even play simulator games to learn circuits. If you’re serious, you’ll make sacrifices while others are out enjoying themselves. There’s no alternative way.
Learn to embrace failure
Everything – however negative – is a valuable opportunity to learn and improve. If you’ve been beaten in a race, you’ve just had a free masterclass on how to do it. If sponsors keep turning you down, find out why: you should then be able to improve either your offering or your sponsor targets. If you feel constantly despondent or depressed about your career, maybe you’re just learning that racing isn’t for you after all. But you’ve almost certainly become fitter as well as a better driver on the road: two things that one day might save your life.
Picture: Jan Brucke (VLN)