Formula 1 Rules And Regulations

Formula 1 Rules and Regulations

Formula One

Formula 1, also known as F1, is a global sport with many countries participating in an eight to nine month long racing season. F1 racing descends from the Grand Prix, an early form of motor racing developed in early 20th-century Europe. Modern Formula 1 began in 1946 with the World Championship of Drivers in 1950. Since then, F1 has expanded overseas, even though it remains dominated by European drivers. The winner of the first World Championship of Drivers was Nino Farina of Italy. 

Popular drivers currently competing in Formula 1 include Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, and Lando Norris. The leading car manufacturers in Formula 1 are Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes.

The Circuit

formula 1 racetracks and circuits

Current circuits range from 4.3 km to 5.9 km in length, or approx. 2.7 to 3.6 miles. There is no set number of laps, but they must exceed 305 km, or approximately 190 miles in distance.

The starting lights consist of five pairs of red lights on a traffic light board to signify when the first lap begins. Each pair of lights is turned off one by one to count down the start. When the final pair of lights is turned off, the race has begun.

The Objectives

The objective of Formula 1 racing is to score the maximum number of points by placing in the top 10. Each racing team aims to score the most points between their two drivers by having both place in the top 10. Drivers and teams accumulate these points towards the season standings. At the end of the season, the driver with the most points wins the Driver’s World Championship. The team with the most points wins the Constructors’ World Championship.

Race Format and Duration

Race weekends last three days, all of which lead up to the final day: The Grand Prix, which is typically held on a Sunday. On Day 1, drivers are given two 90-minute practice sessions. During Day 2, drivers get another practice session in the morning but must also participate in qualifying sessions later that afternoon.

Qualifying Sessions

Qualifying sessions determine the starting positions for the Grand Prix. The qualifying session is divided into three segments: Q1, Q2, and Q3. Qualifying sessions last one hour total and knock out the slowest drivers in each session.

  • Q1: Lasts for 18 minutes, with 20 drivers. Knocks out five of the slowest participants. They occupy the spots 16 - 20 on the grid, 20 being the final position.
  • Q2: Lasts for 15 minutes, with 16 drivers. Knocks out another five of the slowest drivers. They occupy grid spaces 11-15.
  • Q3: Lasts for 12 minutes, with 10 drivers. This determines the top 10’s positioning on race day. The goal is to finish first and have the optimum position on the grid.

Grand Prix

Before the race begins, drivers take one trip around the track in what is called the formation lap. This lap familiarizes the drivers with the layout of the course, allows them to warm up their tires, and gives them a chance to address any vehicle issues. At the official start, drivers line up on the starting grid. The five pairs of red starting lights are illuminated, then each pair is extinguished by an interval of one second. When the final pair of red lights are turned off, the race has begun and the drivers may accelerate away from the grid and onto the track. At this time, the green starting lights will be illuminated to signal active racing. 

If there is a delayed start, the red lights will remain on, then yellow lights will illuminate to signify that the race has been suspended.

The run time is not allowed to exceed two hours, excluding race suspensions. At the two-hour mark, the driver who is in the lead once they pass the finish line is the winner, regardless of whether they reached the final lap.

The first three to finish the circuit will receive 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, respectively. They are called “podium finishers,” as they have earned a spot to stand on the podium after the race.

Formula 1 Teams and Drivers

Each team is supplied with cars and parts by the brand they’re signed to, such as Mercedes, Ferrari, or Aston Martin. Each team can have no more than four drivers during the season and must enter two drivers for each race. These drivers participate in practice, qualifying, and the race. If a team has both drivers qualify in the top 10, the chances for victory are increased. Both driver’s points are added to the final score for the team at the end of the Grand Prix. 

The drivers are a major component of Formula 1 teams, but these teams consist of managers, engineers, and mechanics as well. Managers are in charge of overseeing the entire team in terms of logistics and racing regulations. The engineers work to create the fastest and most efficient cars, and each specializes in a specific area of design. Mechanics focus on maintaining the car before, during, and after races.

Drivers are assisted by pit crews, which consist of approximately 20 people who perform tire changes and quick maintenance during the race. The pit crew’s objective is to be efficient and work very quickly so they don’t severely impact the driver’s time. In total, each Formula 1 team employs between 300 and 1,200 people.

Equipment

Open-wheel racing is a dangerous sport, so drivers must wear safety gear. They wear helmets and head and neck support (HANS) devices. Helmets are lightweight and fire-resistant. HANS devices protect the driver’s vertebrae in case of a collision. They’re made of carbon fiber and are attached to the seatbelt in the cockpit. 

Drivers wear suits specifically designed to be flame-retardant in case of a crash and combustion. There are handles on the shoulders of the suit so that the driver can strap into the seat. Drivers reach high speeds and force loads while driving, so it’s important to take precautions and ensure that they’re secure and protected. 

Flags

During Formula 1 races and practice sessions, race officials wave flags of different colors to send signals to the drivers. These are the main types of flags used in F1 and their meanings:

  • Red: Race or session suspended
  • Yellow: Hazard or dangerous conditions on the track
  • Green: Full-speed racing may resume
  • Blue: Driver must move aside for a faster driver to overtake
  • Black: Driver disqualified
  • Black and white checkered: End of the race or session; the driver in the lead when this flag is waved is the winner

Fouls and Penalties

Drivers and teams are penalized for breaking the rules. If drivers start too early, cause an avoidable accident, unfairly block another driver, speed in the pit lane, or commit other violations of the sporting regulations, they receive penalties. 

Driver Infringements

The most common types of penalties are time penalties and drive-through penalties. Time penalties require the driver to return to their pit and wait either five or 10 seconds (during which no work may be done) before returning to the race.

Time penalties are imposed for pitting when not allowed, such as under a safety car. A drive-through penalty calls for the drivers to drive through the pit lane at reduced speed before rejoining the race. 

In the case of more serious infractions, stewards may assess harsher penalties, such as grid penalties, stricter time penalties, points on a driver’s license, or driver suspension.

The stewards may also reprimand drivers, and, after five reprimands concerning driving infringements, they will automatically receive a 10-position grid penalty at the next race. 

Stewards work hard to determine whether a rule has been broken and which driver or team is to blame before assessing penalties.

Drivers drive with a Super License, which accrues points just like a normal driver’s license. If a driver receives 12 points, they will have their Super License suspended for 12 months, or an entire season.

Technical Infringements

Along with driving infringements, there are also technical infringements that result in a penalty. If a driver uses more than their allocated number of power units, or if they have an unscheduled gearbox change, they will receive a penalty. 

If a driver uses additional restricted number components, a ten-place grid penalty will be given for the first offense. After that, a five-place penalty is imposed for each additional component.

Scoring and winning

Driver points are awarded based upon drivers’ finishing positions in each Grand Prix. These points are used to determine the winner of the Drivers’ Championship at the end of the season. First place is awarded 25 points, second is awarded 18 points, and third is awarded 15 points. During a race weekend, drivers participate in practice and qualifying sessions, which are used to determine their starting positions in the Grand Prix. 

Scoring:

  • 1st : 25 points
  • 2nd : 18 points
  • 3rd : 15 points
  • 4th : 12 points
  • 5th : 10 points
  • 6th : 8 points
  • 7th : 6 points
  • 8th : 4 points
  • 9th : 2 points
  • 10th : 1 point

Drivers (and their teams) can also earn an extra point for the fastest lap if they finish in the top 10.

Rules of Formula 1

Drivers and teams must adhere to the rules of F1, including the code of sportsmanship; cheating results in penalties or suspension.

Drivers must wear helmets, shoes, gloves, HANS devices, and race suits specifically designed for F1 races.

F1 race circuits are between approximately three and seven miles.

Teams may use no more than four total drivers in races throughout the season.

The race must last no longer than two hours, unless there is a race suspension. In the case of a suspension, extra time equal to the length of the suspension is added to the maximum race time, up to a total of three hours. 

Vehicles must be fully fueled at the beginning of a race; pit crews are no longer allowed to refuel during a race.

After two hours of green-flag racing, if the allotted race distance has not yet been completed, first place is awarded to the driver in the lead.

If there is a tie for the Drivers’ Championship, the driver with the highest number of race wins is awarded first place.

Drivers receive no points if fewer than two laps of green flag racing are able to be completed during the race.

If more than two laps but less than 75% of the race is completed due to race suspension, and the race cannot be resumed, the top drivers receive reduced points based on how much of the race has been completed.

A Formula 1 car must meet a minimum weight. This weight includes all components of the car, the driver, their race suit, helmet, and HANS device. Drivers are not allowed to leave the race until they have been weighed as part of the post-race parc fermé inspection.

Race weekends are three-day events consisting of two days of free practice, qualifying, and sprint sessions, followed by the Grand Prix on the third day, usually a Sunday.

FAQ

What is Formula 1?

Formula 1 is the highest division of open-wheel racing in the world. Ten teams compete to win races during 23 weekends across the series’s eight-month schedule. Each team features two drivers in every race. Racers take part in qualifying sessions that determine their starting position during the race. The top 10 finishers are awarded points toward the Drivers’ Championship.

What is a drive-through penalty in Formula 1?

A drive-through penalty in Formula 1 is a penalty assessed to a driver in which they are required to drive through the pit lane at a decreased speed before rejoining the race. Although the driver is not required to stop while in the pit lane, they are required to adhere to the pit lane speed limit, which is much slower than the racing pace.

What is the minimum distance of a Grand Prix race?

The minimum distance of a Formula 1 race is 305 kilometers, or approximately 190 miles. This means that each race can be a different number of laps since tracks vary in lap distance. The one exception to this rule is the Monaco Grand Prix, which runs approximately 160 miles.

How many cars are in a Formula 1 race?

There are 20 cars in each Formula 1 race. There are ten racing teams in Formula 1 that feature two drivers in each race. However, sometimes there are situations such as crashes or disqualifications that don’t allow all 20 cars to finish the race. Thus, while 20 cars start every race, fewer than 20 may end up crossing the finish line. Competitions may be canceled if fewer than 12 cars are ready to compete.