From the very early days, aviation, and Formula 1 have shared a strong, close relationship. Apart from the countless journeys required across the globe to attend the F1 Championship venues, other appointments require travel.
As a result, enjoying spending time in the air becomes ever more relevant. It’s no wonder several important figures in this sport have shared their passion for aviation over the decades.
The routine of an F1 driver has plenty of international travel, testing, and commitments with sponsors. Add press conferences and several other maxed-out schedule appointments, and time becomes a commodity. In addition, drivers also make their own personal trips to their respective countries or to simply rest and relax.
The only way to maximize time and focus is by owning a private jet. The extra perks are related to its maximum comfort, luxury, and exclusivity. Let’s find out whether your current or legendary drivers made the list of Formula One drivers that owned their own set of wings.
Lewis Hamilton, Bombardier Challenger 605
Lewis Hamilton is undoubtedly one of the best drivers in F1 history. A seven-time champion, the British driver has dominated the category and equalled Michael Schumacher’s titles. He’s also surpassed the record for most wins in the category’s history.
Hamilton has a private jet with which he travels to all the races of the Formula 1 season. The model is a Bombardier Challenger 605, launched in 2006. The aircraft has two turbines and has now been in the Briton’s possession for four years. It can reach a top speed of over 850 km/h and carry up to 19 passengers.
Interestingly, the aircraft’s registration number is G-LCDH. These are the initials of the Mercedes pilot’s full name — Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton. If you catch a glimpse of these letters, you’ll know you’re in the presence of tarmac royalty.
Michael Schumacher, Dassault Falcon 2000 EX
Michael Schumacher is still one of the two drivers with the most Formula One titles of all time, alongside Lewis Hamilton. Both were crowned champions seven times, setting several other records, including the most wins in Formula One history.
The German legend also won the most races in a single season back in 2004, with 13 out of 19 races. No wonder, Schumacher is considered by many to be the greatest Formula One driver of all time.
Unfortunately, a severe accident while skiing in the French Alps left him disabled and forced him out of Formula One racing.
Before that, he was a proud owner of a silver eight-seat Dassault Falcon 2000EX. Schumacher flew his private plane worldwide, for an astonishing average of 300 to 400 hours a year during his Formula One career. The plane had its initials “MS” stamped on the tail and M-IKEL as its identification number.
Niki Lauda, Bombardier Global 5000
Austrian Niki Lauda raced in 177 Formula One Grand Prix and won 25 of them. In 1975, 1977 and 1984, Niki was world champion and the only driver to win the category with both Ferrari and McLaren.
A three-time Formula One World Champion, he enjoyed a long history in aviation. His legacy still crosses the skies through FlyNiki, Austria’s second-largest airline, now named Niki.
Niki Lauda was amongst the very first to own a Global 5000 jet with its Global Vision flight platform. The super large jet combined superior transatlantic speed with the largest cabin in its market segment. It had high-speed Internet connectivity and unmatched entertainment options for passengers. For those flying, a head-up flight display system, and one of the widest viewing fields of any private jets available.
Before purchasing this private aircraft, the pilot already owned an earlier model, the Challenger 300. With the Global 5000, Niki Lauda proudly flew his private plane often to travel to Formula 1 races worldwide out of his base in Austria.
Nelson Piquet, Cessna 750 Citation X
Brazilian Nelson Piquet was a three-time Formula One champion in 1981, 1983 and 1987. Nelson also became vice-champion in 1980.
His Formula One career began at the German Grand Prix. He was the first champion behind the wheel of a turbo engine, a feat he achieved with a Brabham. After retiring from Formula 1, Piquet attempted to run the Indianapolis 500 for two years and raced in sports cars such as the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Nelson Piquet now owns a Cessna 750 Citation X, considered one of the fastest jets in the world. The PR-JAQ was manufactured in 1999 and is one of only five in flying condition in Brazil. There are only eighteen aircraft of this model in the country.
Interestingly, Piquet owned a different Citation X. During an inspection in the USA, corrosion was present on one of the wings, making maintenance impossible. The case went to court, and Cessna had to pay the pilot, who used the money to buy the Cessna 750 Citation X PR-JAQ.
Rubens Barrichello, Embraer Legacy 135
Rubens Gonçalves Barrichello was the longest-serving driver in the Formula 1 World Championship, from 1993 to 2011. That makes him the most experienced driver in the history of the category.
He was also president of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA), representing Formula One drivers. Barrichello drove for Scuderia Ferrari as Michael Schumacher’s teammate, enjoying great success, becoming vice-champion in 2002 and 2004.
Barrichello is still regarded as the most experienced driver on the grid. At the 2008 Turkish Grand Prix, he became the driver with the most races in Formula One. He won Brazil’s 100th F1 victory at the 2009 European Grand Prix, and, in 2011, he became the driver with the most uninterrupted seasons in Formula 1.
Rubens Barrichello bought an Embraer Legacy 135 in 2006. This private plane was the smallest model manufactured by Embraer, with a maximum capacity of 37 passengers. As a result, it’s considered a more family-friendly version.
The pilot shared with the world details about his very humble childhood, which taught him the value of all he accomplished. He confessed that owning a private plane was definitely a luxurious dream. However, it was still worth the investment, as it allowed him to spend every moment with his children, who accompanied him in several races.
Fernando Alonso, Dassault Falcon 900C
Fernando Alonso was a two-time Formula One world champion in 2005 and 2006 for Renault and runner-up in 2010, 2012 and 2013 for Ferrari. He has won two Endurance races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2019 24 Hours of Daytona.
The Spanish pilot made his Formula One debut at the 2001 Australian GP. At the Malaysian Grand Prix, he became the youngest driver to get a pole position. He was also the first Spanish driver to stand on the podium. Alonso also managed to become the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix in the Hungarian Grand Prix. He is now the sixth driver with the most wins in the category’s history.
He decided to retire after the 2018 season. However, he made an interesting return to F1 in 2021 to race for Renault once again.
The legendary driver is the proud owner of a Dassault Falcon 900, a civilian jet aircraft manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation. This private plane has three engines installed in the tail cone, and in its design, the area rule is present extensively, giving the jet a unique look.
Flying Like a Formula 1 Driver
With such busy schedules and current travel restrictions, it shouldn’t serve as a surprise to see Formula One drivers continuing to travel on private jets. Its advantages are well-known for those that value their time, convenience, and flexibility.
Today, there are very few excuses not to join the fast club and realize why Formula One drivers and other celebrities enjoy the flexibility and experience only a private plane can offer.
Contact us today and let us help get you to your destination, in the most relaxed and luxurious experience at your disposal. Who knows? Perhaps it’s time to join some of these great names and watch the next F1 race in person.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Does Lewis Hamilton Have a Private Jet?
Yes. Should you ever come across a red Bombardier Challenger 605 with a tail registration G-LCDH you’ll know it’s Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton’s private jet. For those lucky few, the Challenger 605 can carry up to 19 passengers.
How do Formula One Drivers Travel Between Races?
The machines and most of the team travel on charter flights, several trucks and even container ships across the world. However, the big names behind the wheel need to maximize their time. As a result, they’ll often fly on their own private jet, a chartered plane or even hitch a ride with the team boss.
Do Formula One Drivers Fly Commercial?
Yes, many do. Especially for Asian events or those requiring more distance covered, such as the Australian Grand Prix. As you’d expect, the teams will take up first-class and business seats. However, and as much as possible, a private jet flight is the preferred method of travel.
Do F1 Drivers Fly Together?
Not necessarily. On their little available personal time, their travel options are very much down to their needs. However, when covering a further distance during the Grand Prix Season to attend events in Asia or Oceania, drivers of the same team may take the same long-haul flight.
Does Max Verstappen Have a Private Jet?
Yes. The talented Dutchman, who is only 24, recently purchased a Dassault Falcon-900x. Sir Richard Branson was its previous owner, and it will definitely aid Formula One’s rising star to reach the pole position in fabulous style.