Q: “Could Joe Average, with enough training, get the same lap times as a pro F1 driver, or is that out of reach for the normal human?”
A: There are exceptions to every rule, but I’d say that it’s unlikely unless that “normal human” began training at a young age. Just like with athletes in every other sport, the training needs to have happened over a long period of time. There is research that shows that if an athlete hasn’t built certain skills by the age of 14-16, it’s very difficult to develop them to the world class level. In fact, there is a book called Why Michael Couldn’t Hit, about Michael Jordan’s time spent playing major league baseball. While he’s an incredible athlete, he didn’t hit enough baseballs before the age of 16 to build the necessary mental programming to play at the top level of the game. At least that’s the conclusion of that author, and some research backs it up.
Of course, it’s also a lot more than just a single (or a few) lap times that make the best F1 drivers the best. The ability to sense what the car is doing, translate that into language that engineers can use to develop the car, is critical. A mind that can process tons of information in milliseconds to consider race strategy, and/or how to adapt their driving to the conditions. A body that is perfectly designed (not too tall, very strong, etc.) and developed for the job. And on and on…
Again, there are always exceptions to the rule, but it’s unlikely.
But there are other levels/types of motorsport that are more achievable for a “normal human.”