Karting is the starting point for almost all racing drivers. Even Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton honed their racing skills in karts. To pursue a racing career, the single most essential aspect one should have is, the ability to drive fast. By fast, I don't mean the top speed; any kid can take a Ferrari to 200 kph. By fast, I mean the ability to lap a circuit in the lowest possible time and if you're assuming here that the highest top speed will make you the fastest driver, you're wrong. To lap a circuit in the lowest possible time, the driver has to know what racing lines to take, when to apply the throttle, how much steering input to give, how to balance the car by using the weight transfer etc. All this is taught in great measure by karts. The karts are very basic which ensures that you get unadulterated feedback from them. They don't have power steering so whatever the input you give to the steering, gets transferred to the wheels at the exact rate and amount. Too much or too little, it'll end up in a mistake. The karts sit so low that body roll is nearly absent when cornering (due to a very low centre of gravity). When there's no body roll, the driver experiences g-forces--just like what's experienced by F1 drivers (you might have seen the drivers' heads shaking and moving around in F1 cars. This is due to the aforementioned g-forces), albeit in a subdued magnitude. Even a small mistake by the kart driver and it'll immediately show up in his lap times.
They've no suspension, so just like F1 drivers, the kart driver will be bouncing all the way around. The tyres are specially made and are of a stickier compound and are really wide. This gives the karts hell a lot of grip. All this teaches the driver, the essential basics of racing. If someone is good at karts, you can say they've the basics to move towards F1. If they struggle in karts, they may well pack up their idea of racing.
Michael Schumacher regularly does karting to keep him race fit. I hope this fact hammers home the significance of karting.
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