The Need for Speed in the Skies: Formula 1 Drivers and Their Private Jets

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The Need for Speed in the Skies: Formula 1 Drivers and Their Private Jets

max verstappen jet

Traveling fast often becomes a way of life – be that on the ground or in the air. If adding to that, you travel away from home and all over the world for the better part of the year, it makes sense that you would want as efficient a means of transportation as possible. As such, it comes as no surprise that over the years, several Formula One drivers have opted for private jets. With environmental concerns ever more important, ownership is less than it once was, however. Plenty of drivers will charter aircraft to head to races – but currently, only two drivers are known to own private jets.


Max Verstappen’s Dassault Falcon 900EX

One of the most famous jets out there belongs to the current Formula One world champion – Max Verstappen. The Red Bull Racing number one driver owns a Dassault Falcon 900EX operated by Dutch private jet charter company Exxaero.

This trijet, registered as PH-DTF, has a maximum range of 4,725 nautical miles and a top speed of 893 kph. He bought it from none other than Virgin boss Richard Branson in 2020, reportedly spending €13 million ($14 million).

Verstappen regularly offers other drivers, including Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, a lift to and from the races. As many of the F1 drivers live in Monaco, it makes for convenient ride-sharing.


Fernando Alonso’s Dassault Falco 900C

According to, Spanish driver Fernando Alonso is the only other driver to currently own a private jet. Alonso is the oldest driver in the championship currently, having left twice to keep coming back. He also owns a three-engine Dassault Falcon 900 aircraft (with registration EC-JNZ).

While these two may be the only drivers to have their own jet currently, many more will use private jets to get to races. Chartering as you go is becoming increasingly popular with VIPs and celebrities – not just for cost benefits but to help with environmental impact and image.


Sir Lewis Hamilton’s Commitment to Sustainability

Meanwhile, seven-time world champion and Mercedes driver Sir Lewis Hamilton used to own a Bombardier Challenger 605, registered as G-LCDH (Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton). However, the recently knighted Hamilton sold the burgundy bird back in 2019 to better live up to his own sustainability standards. Hamilton’s dog, a bulldog named Roscoe (he used to have two, but Coco sadly passed away in 2020), still apparently flies private from time to time, according to the pup’s social media accounts.


Michael Schumacher and his legendary M-IKEL

Another legend with the same number of titles as Sir Lewis, Michael Schumacher, also had a private jet. Before his tragic skiing accident in the French Alps, the German driver owned a silver eight-seat Dassault Falcon 2000EX. Reportedly, it flew for an astonishing 300 to 400 hours per year while he was still driving. It was registered as M-IKEL and had the initials MS stamped on its tail. His wife sold the jet a few years ago.


Niki Lauda: Racing Legend and Aviation Enthusiast

A familiar Formula One/aviation name is Andreas Nikolaus ‘Niki’ Lauda. Before his passing in 2019, the former racing driver and entrepreneur was an influential force across the board. Along with the founding of various aviation enterprises, he was also a fan of private jets. The racing legend was one of the first people in the world to own a Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft but also owned other jets (including a Global 6000).


Transporting the Cars: Jets in Formula 1

Jets also play a crucial part in this ground sport in the broader sense. DHL has been teaming up with Formula One for approximately four decades to ensure cars and parts are smoothly delivered across the continents. The shipping specialist uses its planes based in Munich and London to fly 1,400 tons of equipment from one GP to the next.

The worlds of aviation and Formula 1 share a unique bond, characterized by a mutual fascination with speed, precision, and technological innovation. While one conquers the skies and the other dominates the racetracks, there are remarkable parallels between these two high-performance industries that have long inspired and influenced one another.

dhl jet

Shared Pursuit of Speed

Both aviation and Formula 1 are fueled by an unquenchable thirst for speed. In aviation, it’s about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in terms of aircraft velocity. In Formula 1, it’s about achieving maximum acceleration and top speeds on the racetrack. The relentless quest for speed has led to the development of cutting-edge technologies, from aerodynamic advancements to engine innovations, in both domains.


Aerodynamic Principles

Aerodynamics play a crucial role in both aviation and Formula 1. In aviation, engineers meticulously design aircraft to reduce drag, increase lift, and optimize fuel efficiency. In Formula 1, aerodynamics are equally pivotal, with teams investing heavily in wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics to enhance the downforce and minimize air resistance on their racing cars. The sleek, streamlined designs in both fields are a testament to the shared appreciation for the art and science of aerodynamics.


Technological Advancements

Innovation is the lifeblood of both aviation and Formula 1. Breakthroughs in materials, propulsion systems, and onboard electronics have transformed both industries over the years. The aviation industry’s adoption of composite materials, for example, has influenced Formula 1 car construction, leading to lighter and more rigid chassis. Similarly, Formula 1’s advancements in energy recovery systems (ERS) have found applications in hybrid aviation engines, contributing to greater fuel efficiency in the skies.


Safety Enhancements

Safety is paramount in both aviation and Formula 1. Tragic incidents in the history of aviation have led to rigorous safety standards and continuous improvements in aircraft design and operations. Formula 1, too, has seen its fair share of safety innovations, from the introduction of the HANS device to improved helmet design. The exchange of safety knowledge and technology between these industries has undoubtedly saved lives.


Data Analytics and Simulation

Both aviation and Formula 1 harness the power of data analytics and simulation to optimize performance. Flight data recorders, known as “black boxes” in aviation, are akin to the data acquisition systems onboard Formula 1 cars, collecting critical information for analysis after each flight or race. Predictive maintenance, used extensively in aviation, has also found its way into Formula 1, allowing teams to anticipate mechanical failures and improve reliability.


Human Endurance and Training

Pilots and Formula 1 drivers are elite athletes who undergo rigorous training to withstand extreme G-forces. The physical and mental demands of their professions necessitate peak fitness and endurance. The training regimens, nutrition programs, and dedication to peak performance in both aviation and Formula 1 inspire a shared commitment to excellence.


Spectacle and Innovation

Both industries understand the importance of captivating audiences. Airshows and aerobatic displays showcase the elegance and precision of aviation, while Formula 1 races provide heart-pounding excitement on the track. The pursuit of spectacle drives technological innovation and pushes the boundaries of what is possible in each field.

In conclusion, the symbiotic relationship between aviation and Formula 1 is a testament to the shared passion for speed, innovation, and excellence. As aviation continues to inspire Formula 1 and vice versa, we can expect to witness even greater technological advancements and a deeper appreciation for the art of pushing the limits of what humans and machines can achieve, both on the ground and in the sky. These two worlds, seemingly different, are forever connected by their shared pursuit of pushing the boundaries of human achievement.

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