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Do F1 Marshals Get Paid? Are They Volunteers?

Marshals are the unsung heroes of any racetrack. These people have to be stood at the side of the circuit ready to jump into action at any time. Marshals are extremely important and without them there would be no racing at all, which leaves many wondering if F1 marshals get paid.

F1 marshals do not get paid and they do their job for the love of the sport. Their ‘reward’ is being the closest people to the action and having free entry to see Formula 1 cars up close and personal. F1 marshals are therefore volunteers and are some of the most important people at a race weekend.

Although there are no huge requirements that you need to meet in order to marshal at an F1 event, it can be helpful to add some skills to your resume. Below, we discuss what F1 marshals do, and how you can become one.

What Are F1 Marshals?

Formula 1 marshals are the people on the side of the circuit who stand behind the catch fences. They have several important duties and responsibilities at the track during a Formula 1 weekend, from waving yellow flags to helping put out fires on the cars after an incident.

Even though these individuals are volunteers, and they are not paid for their service, they are still hugely respected members of any Formula 1 event, and they play some of the most important roles in the sport.

The marshals are the ones who clear the debris off the track if there has been a crash. They are also responsible for waving the flags to ensure that the drivers understand the current track conditions and if there may be danger up ahead. There have also been many scenarios where Formula 1 marshals have risked their lives in order to rescue a driver.

What Do F1 Marshals Do?

Trackside Marshals

There are a few different types of marshalling roles in F1, with the most obvious one at any event being the trackside marshal. These are the marshals you’ll see most often, and they are responsible for things like removing debris from the racetrack, moving damaged cars off the track, and generally just ensuring the track is clear.

Start Line/Grid Marshals

But before the race begins, or upon a restart, there are also marshals responsible for ensuring each car is in its correct grid slot. Marshals in these positions are also responsible for alerting race control if a driver stalls on the grid or has another problem, as the driver will wave their hand in the air and the marshal waves a yellow flag to prevent a dangerous situation at the race start.

Flag Marshals

Perhaps the second most common marshal you’ll see on an F1 race weekend is a flag marshal. They are responsible for waving the various flags, be it the green flag at the start of the race, yellow flags during an incident on track, or even the checkered flag at the end of the race.

Fire Marshals

You’ll also see fire marshals at an F1 event, and their job is to put out any fires on the cars if they are damaged. As F1 brakes and engines can quickly overheat if the car comes to a stop midway through a race, fire marshals need to be on the scene quickly to not only create a safer environment for those around the car, but also to minimize further costly damage to the car.

Other Marshal Roles

There are various other marshalling roles in F1, ranging from administrative tasks and ensuring cars are all lined up in the right places in the paddock, to responding to rare – but still possible – pitlane incidents.

Why Are Marshals So Important?

Marshals are some of the most important people at the racetrack during a Grand Prix. Many people overlook the importance of “the people in the orange suits” but the truth is that without them the race would not even go ahead.

This is even more impressive when you consider the fact that marshals are not being paid to work at the event. Formula 1 marshals are not just important because they sweep debris off the track in the event of a crash, but there are other crucial duties that they must fulfill.

They are often the first people to arrive on the scene in the event of a crash, so they will be able to assess the driver’s condition, and if the driver is injured they can quickly communicate to the medical teams that further action is necessary.

Marshals are also the people who are responsible for communicating with the drivers using flags, be it yellow flags to signify danger on the track, or red flags to bring the race to a halt. Flags are still used in Formula 1 as they are the most reliable way to communicate with drivers, especially if their radios and dashboard displays aren’t working.

Why Don’t F1 Marshals Get Paid?

Formula 1 marshals are volunteers and do not get paid for the time that they spend at the track. The marshals are there because of their love for the sport and they are making the most of the opportunity to get as close as possible to the cars for free, while also helping ensure that the race weekend goes smoothly.

Formula 1 does not pay marshals, and there are several reasons for this. The first is that there are simply too many of them. The average racetrack may have hundreds of marshals, with multiple being stationed at each corner and along the straights.

Marshals also are not paid as they should not be there to make some quick cash. These people are responsible for the safety of the drivers and ensuring that the event runs as smoothly as possible. For that to happen you need people who are passionate about the sport, and not just there to make money. Since marshals aren’t paid, there’s no reason for someone to do it unless they love the sport.

What About Marshals In Other Motorsports?

Marshals across all forms of motorsport are usually volunteers and are not paid for the time they spend at the track. All marshals provide their services purely out of their passion and love for motorsport, which is why they are the best individuals for the job that needs to be done.

Marshals are just as important in other forms of motorsport as they are in Formula 1, even at the amateur level. Every branch of motorsport, all the way down to karting, will have marshals at the track whenever there are drivers out on track.

Whether it’s waving flags, helping drivers, or cleaning up debris, marshals will be at the track doing their duties with pride and a huge amount of motivation. Marshals do not expect to be paid, and simply free entry to an event at which they have an important role is enough motivation for many of them to volunteer.

How To Become An F1 Marshal

You do not need any qualifications to become an F1 marshal. However, as Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, they won’t just take anyone who wants to be a marshal and put them on a Formula 1 circuit, as you will need past marshalling experience.

In order to volunteer as a Formula 1 marshal, you must be at least 18 years of age. On top of that, you also need to have at least one year of marshalling experience. You can gain experience at your local karting circuit or amateur racing circuit during race weekends, where you often won’t need to have any experience to become a marshal.

This requirement is in place as F1 does not want to have inexperienced marshals who are still learning to be put on the biggest event that the track will be hosting. With Formula 1 drivers’ and other marshals’ lives at risk, you need to at least have some experience to handle the high-pressure situations in which you may find yourself.

Helpful Qualifications

As mentioned earlier, you don’t need any qualifications to become a Formula 1 marshal. However, there are only a select number of volunteers that can be used at the circuit. Many people would love to be a marshal at an F1 event, but it could quickly become too crowded for each marshal to be able to do their job effectively.

There are some qualifications that can help you to get an edge over other applicants who are volunteering to marshal at an F1 Grand Prix. The first of those is a basic first aid course. There are medical teams at the circuit, but if you are trained in first aid it can only be an advantage to you in terms of your application to become an F1 marshal.

The second kind of qualification that you could use to help if you want to volunteer at a Formula 1 event would be some form of firefighting/fire prevention qualification or experience. Each marshal post will have a dedicated fire marshal, since there is always the risk of a fire breaking out if a car is damaged.

Having any relevant experience regardless of the type of marshal you want to become can only be useful.

Networking

There’s usually a massive number of volunteers who would love to marshal at a Formula 1 weekend. It’s free entry to what is usually an extremely expensive event, and on top of that, you get to be as close to the action as possible.

If you have friends who have done marshalling at a Formula 1 event before it will be much easier to stand out above the crowd and work your way into the event. They would also be able to help you gain the necessary experience to become a Formula 1 marshal. It’s not guaranteed to help, but building a solid network is good practice for applying for any job.

The Risks Of Becoming An F1 Marshal

There’s always a risk to becoming a marshal. You might be close to the action, and as exciting as that can be, it’s also extremely dangerous. Formula 1 cars travel incredibly fast and situations can very quickly go from bad to worse.

Cars that have been in a crash often bring debris with them. It’s not uncommon to see wings, pieces of carbon fiber, or even entire wheels flying off the car at high speeds. There’s always a risk – although much smaller nowadays with F1’s high safety standards – that marshals can be in the firing line during an accident.

The ERS systems that are used to generate hybrid power on modern Formula 1 cars are also something marshals need to be aware of. This is why F1 marshals often wear rubber gloves and boots when touching the car, as when a car is live it could give you a nasty electric shock if the ERS is still live. However, all of these risks are minimized with the training F1 marshals go through.

Final Thoughts

F1 marshals do not get paid as they are volunteers. They do what they do out of a love for the sport, and while they get to watch an F1 race up close for free, they have many key responsibilities, from clearing the track of debris to helping drivers after a crash.