The Private Jets Of Formula One

Aviation and Formula One have had a strong relationship since the beginning. Several key figures in the sport have shared their love for aircraft over the decades. As drivers gear up for the French Grand Prix later this month, we thought we’d look at some of the private jets they fly in.

Gulfstream G650
From small business jets to large-capacity aircraft, celebrities around the world choose to hold their own private planes to hop between cities. Photo: Getty Images

A history together

A familiar Formula One name in aviation is Andreas Nikolaus ‘Niki’ Lauda. The former racing driver and entrepreneur was an influential force across the board before his passing two years ago. Along with the founding of various aviation enterprises, he was a fan of private jets. An aircraft that the legend acquired was the first Bombardier Global 7500 delivered to Europe. Other jets that he owned and flew included a Global 6000, Global 5000, and Challenger 300.

Nonetheless, Lauda wasn’t alone in his affection for private jets. Drivers across Formula One have tried their hand at holding their own units even up until recent times.

Niki Lauda Airbus A320
Niki Lauda was no stranger to breaking ground in both aviation and racing over the decades. Photo: Getty Images

Before selling his private jet in favor of a more sustainable approach, Lewis Hamilton flew a Bombardier CL-600-2B16 Challenger 605. This plane was registered as G-LCDH, standing for Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton, when flying with the seven-time world champion.

It was well-publicized in 2017 that Hamilton was given a £3.3 million (~$4.65 million) VAT refund on the £15.5 million (~$21.85 million) jet when the plane was imported into the Isle of Man in 2013. This move was revealed part of the infamous Paradise Papers documents.

The jet is registered to TAG Aviation has been sold to LaudaMotion Executive, which is now going by the name of SPARFELL.

Bombardier Challenger 605
The Bombardier Challenger 605 – the same type that Lewis Hamilton owned before changing his stance on travel habits. Photo: Getty Images

Across the industry

At the end of last year, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen purchased a Dassault Falcon-900EX. M-VGAL was bought from none other than Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and the flights are now conducted by Dutch private jet company Exxaero. According to GlobalAir.com, this trijet has a maximum range of 4,725 NM and a maximum speed of 482 kts (893 kph).

Dassault Falcon 900EX
With over 500 units produced, Dassault Falcon 900 is a French-built corporate plane that conducted its first flight back in September 1984. Photo: Getty Images

Even if drivers don’t have their own fleet of jets, their racing teams often take care of things. For instance, Scuderia Ferrari partners with global business aviation powerhouse VistaJet to transport racers on their missions.

“In an industry where speed and efficiency are fundamental, VistaJet is supporting the team with travel between races throughout the 2021 Formula 1 season. This will allow the Scuderia Ferrari team to further utilize time off track and arrive in optimum condition,” VistaJet states.

“With often only days between Grands Prix, the team faces challenging timelines. VistaJet places the utmost importance on service and operational excellence. On its owned fleet of over 70 aircraft, VistaJet has completed over 190,300 flights globally, safely flying over 472,000 passengers to more than 1,900 airports worldwide.”

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From top to bottom

Even the bosses themselves get involved. According to Air Charter Service, Daniel Ricciardo shared that his most exciting air journey was when businessman Dietrich Mateschitz flew him back from a Grand Prix in a Cessna Citation Bravo aircraft. Mateschitz piloted the aircraft himself while Ricciardo enjoyed the luxuries on board!

Speaking of bosses, former Formula One Group chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is also the owner of private jet aircraft. He holds a Dassault Falcon 7X private jet with registration N-999BE. This trijet was first delivered in 2008 and can serve up to 16 passengers to a range of up to 5,950 NM.

Notably, the price of one of these jets is approximately $40 million. According to Superyacht Fan, the likes of Prince Albert of Monaco and Microsoft’s Charles Simonyi have owned the type.

Falcon 7X
Performing its first flight in 2005, the Dassault Falcon 7X has been promoted to allow business travelers and VIPs to fly across oceans on long distances due to its high range. Photo: Getty Images

Billionaires across different industries naturally opt to hold their own private jets. For example, Chelsea Football Club Owner and oil magnate Roman Abramovich flies around in his own Boeing 767 mansion.

Aviation’s broader role

Nonetheless, not all drivers opt to fly privately. Several have been spotted flying on business and first class seats on commercial aircraft. For long-haul trips to the likes of Shangai, Singapore, and Tokyo, this approach is often the most viable option.

G550 backside
Sometimes private jets aren’t the most suitable choice when heading overseas for F1 drivers. Photo: Getty Images

Jets also play a crucial part in this ground sport in a wider sense. DHL has been teaming 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 materials to the race locations. Per season, 800 tons of freight, which includes team, broadcasting, and media equipment are moved by air, sea, and road by the company.

DHL Air Boeing 757 Cargo Plane At Thessaloniki Airport
As one of the largest cargo firms in the world, DHL has partnered with several sports institutions over the years, including Manchester United and Formula One. Photo: Getty Images

Altogether, with such busy schedules and now, travel restrictions, it won’t be a surprise to see F1 drivers continue to hit the skies in their own private jets in the near future. However, with sustainability at the forefront of industries this decade, more racers may follow the likes of Hamilton. Overall, there could be more drivers flying charters or commercially down the track.

What are your thoughts about the private jets of Formula One drivers? Are there any other jets that racers have driven over the decades that you have been a fan of? Also, how do you feel the habits will shift over the next few years? Let us know what you think of the planes and their services in the comment section.

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