Tim Silvey heads up Crown Motorsport, a racing driver management company that forms part of the Crown Talent & Media Group. Apart from representing solid talents, in 2017 they will be launching an academy for younger drivers to benefit from the services and expertise they provide across sporting and commercial departments. This time Tim gives the Paddock magazine five tips to turn drivers into stars.
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Focus on it being more than a sport. Motorsport is entertainment, and that is sometimes forgotten. However, it’s also a business and an industry where relationships are so valuable. Get the attitude right early on and it will stand you in good stead throughout your career. I’ve seen so many talented drivers run into problems because they’ve burnt relationships on the long road up the ladder. The way down can be very quick, indeed if you don’t remember those who helped you along the way.
Gather the right team for you. Motorsport is a highly competitive industry and to get cut through as a driver you need talent, you need to enjoy what you’re doing, but importantly, you need the right support. Not all drivers have the backing to pay their way to the top and perhaps don’t have the commercial requirements at their disposal to capitalise on the right PR, marketing, sponsorship and digital activations. We work very closely with our drivers and speak on a daily basis to create commercial opportunities that appeal to the media, the public and to brands. Developing those relationships can help monetise a sustainable career and facilitate the transition to a salaried driver and an investable asset from a brand marketing perspective through sponsorship. We’re fortunate to be able to also offer “sporting” support in the form of on-track strategy and career planning, driver placement with teams, personal athlete development physical and mental and performance coaching plans and reviews to create well-rounded individuals with all the components needed to become a top athlete.
Formula 1 is not always the way to go. For many young drivers, their first thought is Formula 1. This is a great aspiration but not always the right one and being single-minded on it, while admirable, can be a problem. There are many great series all over the world that offer an alternative to Formula 1. It might be that someone is more suited to sports cars or prototypes and others work well in single-seaters. Drivers should consider all the options early on and test in a variety of cars and championships to find the right fit for them. Develop your skills in an environment that suits you, test your limits, find your level and see if you can go beyond it.
We see many young drivers now looking to Formula E as the world moves towards technology, clean energy and sustainability. Formula E is doing a great job creating shareable, rich content, and the young generation is born into a world where social media is second nature.
It’s also well-publicised that Formula 1 is an expensive world. It might be that targeting a very well paid career with a manufacturer in a series like Blancpain or WEC is a better goal depending on your circumstances. Having said all that, if the talent is coupled with suitable backing, the right team, attitude and an open mind, Formula 1 can turn a young driver into a global brand and an aspirational, inspirational character for future generations to admire.
Educate yourself. Academic education is important in case you do make it as a racing driver as much as it’s important if you don’t. Having an education and a back-up plan is not a failure. It’s amazing how many drivers put all their eggs into one basket, leaving education early or doing it part-time to focus entirely on their career. You have to have a plan B and other skills to rely on if it turns out that racing isn’t for you. I have a huge amount of admiration for young racing drivers who complete their education or work alongside their racing activities until they reach a level where it’s clear that motorsport is going to be their complete and utter focus.
Work very hard when you’re not in the car. Talent is nothing without hard work and a clear understanding of the requirements outside of the car. Something that really upsets me is when I hear managers say to their drivers to simply focus on the race track and don’t worry about anything else. In my opinion, that is the worst advice to give a young driver. My team’s job is to leverage the commercial and sporting assets of a racing driver, but that can only be achieved with someone who understands that motorsport is more than just a race, master all the elements, with a support network that compliments the individual and you have a recipe for success. Let a plate stop spinning and someone will quickly overtake you, both on the track and at the office.