Formula 1 Licenses

formula 1 licenses

Formula 1 is one of the most popular auto racing competitions in the world, with some of the best drivers behind the wheel. To ensure that only the best drivers can compete, Formula 1 has created a system that requires drivers to apply for a Formula 1 Super License before getting the chance to compete. Drivers must meet a wide range of criteria to earn a spot in a Formula 1 race, and they must prove that they are, in fact, among the best drivers in the world. 

Criteria For Applicants

In order to get the best drivers in the world to compete at the highest level and ensure the safest possible races for all drivers, Formula 1 created the Super License system. Before a driver can even apply for a Super License, they must meet several requirements. First off, all drivers must be 18 years old by the first Formula 1 weekend of the season, and they must have a full valid driver’s license. From there, drivers must have already completed two seasons of single-seater racing competitions and earned an International Grade A competition license. If they meet all those requirements, then drivers must get at least 300 kilometers of test driving in a Formula 1 car and pass a test on Formula 1 sporting regulations. Finally, any applicant must have obtained at least 40 points in the Super License points system.

Super License Points System

The Formula 1 Super License Points System was instituted in 2015 after 17-year-old Max Verstappen competed without a proper driver’s license. To avoid a similar situation from ever taking place again, Formula 1 designed the Super License and the points system to make sure drivers were properly qualified to race. The points system was created to test a driver's merit in major competitions. All drivers must have competed in at least two seasons of single-seater races, and within the past three years, they must have accrued at least 40 points.

A wide variety of motorsport series from around the world distribute points to the top finishers each season. The points distributed by each series are scaled by the series' magnitude, which has left some upset, feeling a top finish in their championship should earn more Super License points. For example, the IndyCar Series awards 40 points to each of the top three finishers in the championship, 30 points to fourth place, 20 to fifth, 10 for sixth, all the way down to three points for the tenth place finisher. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the FIA Junior Karting Continental Championship awards just 2 points for the winner and a single point for the runner-up. 

Super License Penalties And Rules

One of the most important rules for the Formula 1 Super License is that drivers must reapply for their license every year, as they only last for 12 months. It is also possible for a driver to have a license suspended or even revoked during a season due to violations. For example, in 2006, driver Yuki Ide had his license revoked for causing a major accident on just the first lap of a race. This was an extreme example where the safety of the race was put at risk by the behavior of a driver, but there are other cases where less severe penalties are awarded. Notably, if a driver breaks any of the rules listed under rule 38.3 of the Formula 1 sporting regulations handbook, they may be subject to receiving penalty points against their license. For example, pit violations could be subject to a time penalty in a race, and a number of penalty points deemed appropriate by the stewards of the race. If a driver receives 12 penalty points in a year, they will be suspended for the next event. At the end of each year, all penalty points are removed from a driver's license, and they start the next year at zero. 

There is also a second type of Super License called the Free Practice Only Super License. This License allows Formula 1 teams the ability to get qualified drivers in their academies or on their reserve teams the chance to get behind the wheel. This is an opportunity for drivers to practice and work towards earning a full Super License one day.