is Formula One?
It is a set of technical regulations for single-seater racing cars, which
is published annually by the FIA. The regulations specify maximum and
minimum dimensions, engine capacity, what is permitted technically and
what is not permitted and, perhaps most important of all, a large number
of safety measures to be incorporated in the car with a view to protecting
the driver. A car built to these regulations is a Formula One car. Formula
3 and Formula 3000 are also FIA Formulae, but each has lower performance
than Formula One.
2. How are these regulations made?
The FIA has a Formula One Technical Working Group on which the technical
director of each team sits. This makes recommendations to the FIA Formula
One Commission on which the teams, race promoters, engine manufacturers,
sponsors, tyre manufacturers and, of course, the FIA are represented.
Decisions of the Formula One Commission then go to the FIA World Motor
Sport Council and ultimately the FIA General Assembly for approval.
3. What is the current Formula One?
In addition to a large number of regulations governing chassis design,
the current formula restricts the cylinder capacity of the engine to 3
litres, prohibits supercharging and stipulates a minimum total weight
of 600 kg, including the weight of the driver and his race equipment.
4. On what criteria are the Formula One
Technical regulations based?
They address two main concerns:
Controlling speed, in the interests
of safety, whilst at the same time preserving the technological
excellence of Formula One;
Safety in the event of an accident.
This is why there are restrictions on cylinder capacity,
fuel, tyre dimensions, the minimum weight and width of the car, as well
as on the dimensions and positioning of the aerodynamic devices and on
electronic driving aids.
Moreover, there are stipulations relating to the strength of the chassis,
the protective roll bars, leak-resistant fuel tanks, fire extinguishers,
harnesses, as well as head and neck protection. The positions of the fuel
and oil tanks are specified and they must have special protection. Cockpit
dimensions are also regulated.
All engines must be reciprocating four strokes with ten cylinders, none
of which may be oval. It is obligatory for each car to have four wheels,
only two of which are steered or driven.
5. Who organizes the Formula One World
The FIA is the world governing body of motor sport and, as such, administers
the Formula One World Championship, as well as all other international
motor sport. The Formula One World Championship was created in 1950 and
is the oldest of the FIA Championships. It also has the greatest media
impact. It is estimated that the seventeen Grand's Prix of the 2000 season
attracted over 53 billion television viewers, whilst the printed press
maintained a significant presence, with an average of 650 journalists
and photographers from 65 countries traveling from all over the world
to cover each Event.
6. How far back does Formula One go?
There was no "formula" in the early era of the motor car from 1894
(the year of the first motor race in history, from Paris to Rouen) to
1900. The existing vehicles were simply raced. A differentiation was made
between the cars on the basis of their method of propulsion (petrol or
steam), and their number of seats. At that time, cars always had at least
two seats, and it was not until the end of the 1920s that single-seater
cars were used. The invention of the rear-view mirror made an important
contribution to this development, since one of the mechanic's tasks was
to warn the driver that someone was trying to overtake him. From 1907
to 1939, almost every possible formula was tried. Minimum weight, maximum
weight, consumption and bore were each restricted in turn, but the formula
most frequently used, even after 1939, was to limit the cylinder capacity
of the engines. This restriction was first introduced in 1914.
Following the introduction of the first "formula" in 1904 by the FIA (which
restricted maximum weight), categories were created for the smaller cars,
but the name "Formula One" did not appear until 1948. The first Formula
One race was at Pau on 29 March 1948 and was won by a Maserati. The FIA
Formula One World Championship was created in 1950, and the first Formula
One World Championship race was the British Grand Prix, at Silverstone
on 13 May 1950.
7. What is the Federation Internationale
de l'Automobile (FIA) and why was it created?
The FIA was created in 1904. One of its first tasks was to formulate restrictions
to improve the safety of racing drivers and spectators, and to guide motor
sport in a direction which would benefit the development of road cars,
thus setting a pattern which has been repeated throughout the long history
of motor sport.
Prior to 1904, it was virtually impossible to organize international races,
since there were no common regulations. The most influential automobile
clubs of the time therefore decided to create an international
which would draw up common regulations, applicable to all international
races. This led to the birth of the Fédération Internationale
de l'Automobile (the FIA), which was thus able to guarantee competitors
that the same rules would apply wherever they were racing.
8. What is a Grand Prix?
The first race to be given the title "Grand Prix" was held at Le Mans
in 1906. It was restricted to "big cars", which could be described as
the "Formula One" cars of the period. From then on, the term Grand Prix
became associated with major circuit races for cars. Top events, which
were the equivalent of today's Grand's Prix, were called "Grandes Epreuves"
(Great Events). However, the FIA was opposed to the popular usage of the
"Grand Prix" title, which it wished to reserve for events counting towards
its Formula One World Championship. Henceforth, it was prohibited to use
the Grand Prix title for an event which did not count towards this Championship,
except for very rare cases with historic justification, such as the Grand
Prix de Pau, which is currently a Formula 3 event.
9. How is the World Champion title awarded?
There are two titles, one for the Drivers’ World Championship and one
for the Constructors’ Championship. The drivers' title has been awarded
since 1950, and the constructors' since 1958. The constructors add together
the points scored in every race by each car of their make (they cannot
enter more than two), in the same way as the drivers accumulate the total
number of points scored in each event.
In the event of two drivers having the same number of points, the title
is decided on the basis of the quality of the places obtained, that is,
the number of first places, followed by the number of second places, etc.
10. What is the scale of points?
The scale of points awarded to the first eight finishers in each race has
been modified on three occasions, the most recent of which was in 2003;
the first now obtains 10 points (1950
and 1960: eight
points, until 1991: nine points for a victory then
6 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 points), and the following
seven are awarded: 8 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1
points. Until 1959 the driver who recorded the fastest lap was given 1
11. How many Grand's Prix are held every
The 1950 Championship consisted of only 7 Grand's Prix. This figure gradually
increased, peaking at 17 in 1977. It was then limited to 16, but the possibility
of holding a maximum of 17 events was reintroduced in 1996. 2005, 19
races are held.
A minimum of eight events must take place for the World Champion Drivers'
and Constructors' titles to be awarded. More than 600 Formula One World
Championship races have been held since 1950.
12. Is the Grand prix timetable always
Yes, except the actual race which is usually but not invariably at 14.00
local time. Otherwise the schedule is always:
Free practice from 11.00 to 12.00
and from 13.00 to 14.00
Free practice from 09.00 to 09.45
and from 10.15 to 11.00
Qualifying from 13.00 to
(*) Thursday for the Monaco Grand Prix
13. Can any circuit host a Grand Prix?
No. Originally, a Grand Prix could be held anywhere, but increases in
car performance have forced the FIA to impose stringent conditions on
the lay-out, width and length of a circuit, as well as the surface, safety
provisions and facilities. Only FIA Grade 1 circuits can now host a Formula
14. What is a Grade 1 circuit?
Each circuit must be homologated by the FIA following a series of inspections.
The homologation criteria are less strict for circuits hosting events
for slower formulae which hold Grades from 2 to 5. In addition to the
initial procedure, the circuits sometimes have to carry out maintenance
work or update their facilities so that their homologation may be renewed.
In the past, with the exception of the Monaco Grand Prix, which is the
only Formula One event to take place within a town itself, circuits tended
to be very fast with long straights. Increases in the car performance
have meant that these straights have had to give way to series of bends,
in order to prevent excessive speeds. Similarly, very long tracks, like
the old Nürburgring (22.835 km), had to be abandoned, since the costs
involved in providing the safety facilities and personnel required by
the regulations together with the technical facilities necessary for television
broadcasting were too great. Monaco is now the shortest circuit (3.370
km), whilst Spa is the longest (6.968 km).
15. What is meant by the "constructor"
of a Formula One car?
A Formula One constructor is the chassis manufacturer. This is often not
the same as the engine manufacturer. In the event of winning the Constructors'
World Championship, the title is awarded to the chassis manufacturer.
16. What criteria must a car constructor
meet to be able to participate?
A constructor who wishes to enter the Formula One World Championship must
submit his entry to the FIA, and provide evidence that he both designs
and makes the chassis of his car and that he has sufficient technical
and financial resources to take part in the Championship. The number of
constructors’ teams is now limited to 12, each with 2 cars.
17. Does each constructor have to compete
throughout the season?
Yes. Any constructor who fails to turn up at an event may be fined several
hundred thousand dollars. A constructor may not join the championship
during the season.
18. Can any driver compete in a Grand
No. In order to be able to take part in a Grand Prix, a driver must hold
a "Super License", which is awarded on the basis of his past record in
junior formulae and of his having a valid contract with a Formula One
team which has entered the World Championship.
19. Are the teams allowed to change driver
during the season?
Yes, each team may change the driver of its first car once in the season.
For the second car, a maximum of three drivers may take turns, without
restriction, during any one season. This excludes cases of exceptional
circumstances, which are considered separately. Notification of a change
of driver must be made before 16:00 on the Thursday (Wednesday for Monaco).
After that deadline, a driver change may only take place with the consent
of the stewards.
20. Do the drivers keep the same race
number throughout the season?
Yes, provided they stay with the same team, as the numbers are attributed
to the constructors, not the drivers. The only exception is the reigning
World Champion, who is always allocated number 1 (even if he changes team),
and his team mate who is given number 2.
21. Is the number of laps during the
practice sessions free?
For qualifying practice only, a maximum of 12 laps is allowed and any
driver running over the maximum of 12 laps will have all his qualifying
times cancelled. However, at the discretion of the Stewards, he may be
allowed to start the race from the back of the grid.
22. How do drivers qualify for a race?
Qualifying practice is on Saturday, from 1 pm to 2 pm. In order to qualify,
a driver must set a time within 107% of the fastest time.
23. What is the warm-up?
The warm-up is a free practice session which takes place on the morning
of the race and lasts for half an hour. Only drivers who have qualified
may take part in it. It begins four and a half hours before the start
of the race.
The warm-up enables the teams to test the cars in their race configuration.
24. Can the drivers change cars during
Each two-car team may use a maximum of two cars during free practice,
and a maximum of three cars for qualifying practice, provided that all
the cars have been checked by the Scrutineers and are of the same make
(chassis and engine).
However, no change of car is permitted after the 15 second signal preceding
the start of the formation lap.
Nevertheless, if the race has to be stopped before two laps have been
completed by the leader, the starting procedure is repeated from the T-15
point (see 60 below). Once again car changes are permitted until the 15
second signal which precedes the start of the new formation lap.
25. How is the starting grid arranged?
The starting grid consists of two cars per row in staggered formation,
with an interval of eight meters between each row. The driver who set
the fastest time will start from the front in the so-called "pole position",
and the others will line up on the grid in the order of the times they
have achieved. In the event of a tie, the driver who achieved the time
first is given priority.
26. Do the constructors design special
cars for the qualifying session?
Special cars as such are not built for qualifying, but special engines,
special set-ups and significant modifications are made for qualifying
27. How long does a Grand Prix last?
The distance of a Grand Prix is the least number of laps which exceeds
305 km, but no race may last for more than two hours. On certain slower
circuits (such as Monaco), in the event of rain, the Clerk of the Course
is sometimes obliged to stop the race after two hours.
28. Does a Grand Prix always start, rain
Yes, a Formula One Grand Prix takes place in all weather conditions, and
the tyre manufacturers have developed special treaded tyres, which help
to avoid the risk of aquaplaning. Nevertheless, the Race Director has
the power to stop the race, if this becomes necessary for safety reasons.
Apart from grip, the greatest problem in the event of rain is visibility,
which is significantly reduced due to the spray thrown up by the cars'
tyres. In order to help counteract this problem, the cars are equipped
with a red light at the rear which must be illuminated at all times when
the car is running on wet-weather tyres.
29. How powerful are Formula One engines?
Even though the constructors never divulge exact details of their engine
power, the maximum is known to exceed eight hundred horsepower in some
cases. Manufacturers of engines claim that maximum power is not always
the most important factor. Having power available at lower engine speeds
is often of equal importance, especially in slow corners.
30. What speeds do Formula One cars reach?
The Grand Prix with the highest average speed in history was the 1971
Italian Grand Prix, won by Peter Gethin in a BRM at an average speed of
242.615 kph (150.754 mph) on the Monza circuit which at the time did not
have any chicanes (interestingly, a recent computer simulation suggested
that current Formula One cars would achieve an average speed of well over
300 kph - 190 mph - on the original circuit). In 2000, the fastest Grand
Prix was the German, won by Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) at an average
of 215.340 kph (133.806 mph). The highest straight line speed recorded
during a Grand Prix in the 2000 season was set by David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes),
at 361.8 kph (221.1 mph), during the Italian Grand Prix.
31. Are the cars currently used faster
than the cars of the "turbo" era?
If a 1.5-litre turbocharged car were produced today, as was the case up
until 1988, it would be a great deal faster than the contemporary 3-litre
cars. However, contemporary cars benefit from significant technological
progress, allowing them to exceed the speeds of the 1988 turbocharged
models, despite the fact that these were able to rely on over 1200 horsepower
32. Can a Formula One car race without
No. The regulations stipulate genuine suspension. For example, the fitting
of rubber blocks is not sufficient. However, the current cars have very
little suspension travel, in order to restrict changes in trim which would
influence the effectiveness of the aerodynamic devices.
33. Why do the regulations require the
cars to have flat lower surfaces?
It became evident that significant down force could be achieved by fitting
inverted aero plane wings underneath the car. In order to reduce down
(the so-called "ground effect"), and thus reduce cornering speed, the
FIA made it obligatory for each car to have a flat lower surface between
the rear wheel centre line and the rear of the front wheels. The constructors
have nevertheless managed to optimize the behavior of the aero foils and
aerodynamic extractors situated behind the gear box, to such an extent
that a current Formula One car is capable of sustaining lateral accelerations
of up to 5G, whereas a good road car achieves about 1G.
34. Are Formula One cars fitted with
A starter has not been obligatory for several years, teams normally choose
not to fit one in order to save weight . They are permitted to use a portable
starter in front of their pits and on the starting grid, but if a driver
stalls on the circuit during the race, he has to retire, even if the car
restarts once the marshals have pushed it away from a dangerous position.
However, all cars are fitted with sophisticated electronically controlled
35. Do Formula One cars have automatic
Yes, in some cases as they are allowed from the 2001 Spanish Grand Prix.
36. How many gear ratios do Formula One
The rapid changes possible with semi-automatic gearboxes mean that most
transmissions are fitted with seven gears, the maximum permitted by the
Technical Regulations. A reverse gear is also compulsory but may not be
used in the pit-lane.
37. Do Formula One cars have better brakes
than series produced cars?
The brakes on series-produced cars are derived from the disc brakes which
were first used in racing. All Formula One cars are equipped with brakes
with calipers made from light alloy while the discs and pads tend to
be made from synthetic materials, e.g. carbon. Their resistance to heat
is much greater than that of series-produced brakes (which is why, in
certain conditions, the insides of the wheels appear completely incandescent)
and they weigh significantly less. Their braking power is very high: at
the end of a straight, at maximum speed (around 340 kph - 212.5 mph),
a Formula One car can brake at less than 100 meters in order to take a
38. Is a special type of fuel used in
No. Unleaded very low sulphur ("green") fuel is used. It already complies
with the EEC standards which will come into force in 2005 for everyday
At one time, the fuel used in Formula One consisted of a mixture of hydrocarbons,
and was a very special fuel, which bore little resemblance to commercial
The FIA introduced regulations, with the dual aim of steering the oil
companies' research in the right direction, so that it would benefit the
ordinary motor car, and of significantly reducing pollution. The fuel
used by Formula One cars is in general not yet available from petrol pumps.
However, the oil companies are now using fuels which could be
and which probably will be in the future. Thus Formula One serves as a
laboratory, which will ultimately be of benefit to the ordinary motor
car (see also question 42).
39. How many tyres are permitted per
car at each grand prix?
The regulations stipulate that each driver may use a maximum of 40 dry-weather
tyres (12 of which may not be used after the first day of practice) and
28 wet-weather tyres throughout the duration of the event. Moreover, each
driver may use a maximum of two rubber specifications for his dry-weather
tyres during free practice, but he must then choose the rubber specification
he wishes to use for the rest of the event before the start of qualifying
practice. Every single tyre used at a Grand Prix incorporates an FIA-supplied
bar-code so that the scrutineers can check that no driver exceeds the
maximum number of tyres allowed.
40. How is the type of rubber selected?
A hard or softer type of rubber is selected on the basis of the driver's
style, the design of the car, the atmospheric temperature and the lay-out
of the circuit. In general, the slower the circuit and the cooler the
temperature, the softer the rubber, allowing greater grip. On the other
hand, high speeds, together with a highly abrasive track wear the tyres
down more quickly. The team and the driver must therefore strike a balance
between various options, i.e. whether to mount harder tyres which may
grip less well but permit fewer pit-stops, or whether to use softer tyres
which will have to be changed several times during the race. A judicious
choice sometimes enables one of the slower cars to win a Grand Prix. Tyre
changes have become a part of the Formula One racing, and the better trained
teams usually manage to change all four tyres and refuel in the space
of 5 to 10 seconds, depending on the quantity of fuel they want to put
in the tank.
41. Are the cars checked during the event?
The day before practice begins, the scrutineers carry out a tour of the
garages, checking that all the cars comply with the regulations. In addition
to this, spot checks are carried out and all the cars, which finish the
race, are checked in the parc fermé once they have crossed the
finish line. Any car which does not comply with the technical regulations
is normally excluded. However, the final decision rests with the Stewards.
42. How are the fuel checks carried out?
At the start of the season, each team entered in the Championship must
provide a sample of 10 litres of each petrol it wishes to use. Each sample
is analyzed by a specialized laboratory, to check that it is in conformity
with the Technical Regulations and is a genuine commercial fuel (see also
If the sample is approved, a so-called "fingerprint" of the fuel is taken
by the FIA. At the events, the FIA Technical Delegate carries out spot
checks, taking samples of petrol from the cars during the practice sessions
or after the race. Using gas chromatography and a device for measuring
the density of the fuel, the samples are analyzed instantaneously, to
see on site whether their fingerprint is identical to the reference fingerprint
previously approved by the FIA.
A team may change the petrol it uses several times during the season,
but it must have submitted a sample to the FIA and receive approval in
43. Are such things as ABS brakes, stability
control or four wheel steering allowed in Formula One?
No, as a general rule driving aids of this kind are prohibited.
44. But these are commonplace on road
Yes, but Formula One is a contest between drivers. Although the cars are
built to the extremes of technology, it is felt the drivers should exploit
them with minimal aid from on-board computers. Otherwise much of the skill
of the drivers would become unnecessary and the sport would lose its human
45. How can the FIA check? How can prohibited
electronic functions be detected?
On site, at each Grand Prix, the FIA has an electronic laboratory as well
as sophisticated equipment and a team of experts who, at any time (even
on the starting grid), may check whether a car's electronics conceal electronic
driving aids prohibited by the regulations.
The electronics of a modern Formula One car comprise up to 500,000 lines
of source code (software). Obviously, it would be impossible to carry
out an in-depth check of such an electronic program, for example on the
grid just before the start of the Grand Prix. Therefore, the procedure
is similar to that used for the petrol. The teams provide the FIA with
their electronic program, and the FIA checks it in detail before the
start of the season. Once the program is approved, the FIA keeps an
"imprint" (an electronic "genetic code" of the car); at the events, the
FIA team assigned to check the electronic programs makes sure that the
programs installed in the cars do not differ in any way from the approved
version. If need be, they may examine in detail only the lines which do
not correspond to those of the approved code, and check whether or not
they contain one or more parameters in breach of the regulations. The
FIA team also installs an electronic lock in each team’s electronic boxes
to prevent an unauthorized program being loaded and back this up with
a physical seal to prevent anyone opening the box during the event.
Once again, if anything is not in conformity, the Technical Delegate makes
a report to the Stewards of the Meeting who can impose a penalty, including
46. What role does the technical delegate
The FIA Technical Delegate is the "policeman" and heads the team of scrutineers
responsible for checking that the cars comply with the Technical Regulations.
If he finds that a car does not comply, he submits a report to the Stewards,
but does not have the power to disqualify or penalize a car himself.
47. Who are the stewards and what are
The three Stewards are the judges, or the referees, of an event. They
examine the reports submitted by the various officials and, once they
have heard the explanations and defense of all the parties concerned,
decide on any sanctions. In order to ensure sporting equity, the Stewards
vary from one event to another; two of them are nominated by the FIA from
amongst holders of the Stewards' super license. The third Steward is designated
by the National Sporting Authority of the country in which the event takes
place. The Stewards appointed by the FIA are of a different nationality
from the country of the event.
They may impose the sanctions set out in the International Sporting Code
and, if they deem it necessary, they may request that a team or driver
be summoned before the World Motor Sport Council.
48. What types of sanctions may be imposed?
The sanctions set out in the International Sporting Code range from a
reprimand to disqualification (a life ban), and include fines, exclusion,
suspension for one or more races, and even the withdrawal of Championship
For any faults committed during qualifying practice, whether of a sporting
or technical nature, the Stewards may also cancel all the driver's times.
Nevertheless, the Stewards have the power to authorize a driver who is
penalized in this manner to start from the back of the grid.
49. What is a "time penalty"?
During the race, the Stewards may also impose a time penalty (sometimes
called a "stop-go") on a driver. In this case, the driver must go to at
his pit and remain there for the duration of the penalty, usually 10 seconds.
In reality, this penalty involves a far greater loss of time, because
of the time taken to return to the pit and to leave it again. Depending
on the circuit, this can result in a total time loss of up to 40 seconds.
If the time penalty is imposed during the last five laps of a race, 25
seconds will be added to the race time of the driver concerned, instead
of a stop-go.
50. Are the stewards' decisions final?
Time penalties are, of course, final, but otherwise, a competitor who
feels that he has been unfairly penalized by a Stewards' decision may
appeal against this decision before the FIA International Court of Appeal.
He must declare his intention to do so within one hour of being notified
of the Stewards' decision. Similarly, the FIA has the right to refer a
decision of the Stewards to the International Court of Appeal, if it believes
that the Stewards have misjudged or inappropriately penalized the matter.
51. What is the International court of
It is the final and highest recourse, and is, in a way, the Fédération
Internationale de l'Automobile's very own "Supreme Court". The International
Court of Appeal is independent of the Sport, and its fifteen members,
who have a three-year mandate, are elected by the FIA General Assembly
of 123 countries from amongst eminent judges and lawyers (some of whom
are Supreme Court judges in their own country). In order for the International
Court of Appeal to be able to convene, at least three judges must be present,
none of whom may be of the same nationality as any of the parties concerned.
52. What are the duties of the Clerk
of the Course and the Race Director?
The Clerk of the Course, who is nominated by the National Sporting Authority
from among holders of an FIA Super License, is responsible for the co-ordination
of all the officials and track marshals at the Grand Prix. Nevertheless,
the Clerk of the Course must work closely with, and under the authority
of, the Race Director, who is nominated by the FIA. The same Race Director
officiates at all the Grand's Prix in the Championship.
The Race Director also acts as Safety Delegate and Official Starter. It
is normally the Clerk of the Course who waves the traditional chequered
flag at the end of the race.
53. How is the race started?
Half an hour before the start of
the formation lap, the cars may leave the pit lane. The drivers
may cover more than one lap if they wish, but to do this they must
pass through the pit lane at greatly reduced speed. They come to
a standstill on the starting grid with their engines stopped.
Fifteen minutes before the start,
the pit lane exit is closed and any driver who is not yet on the
track has to start from the pit lane exit, after all the other competitors
have gone past at the start of the race.
Five minutes before the start, access
to the grid is closed and any driver who is delayed on the circuit
has to start from the pit lane exit. His vacant position is not
filled on the grid.
One minute before the start, engines
Fifteen seconds before the start,
all mechanics must have left the grid.
When the green lights come on, the
drivers begin the formation lap. When they come back to the grid,
they keep their engines running.
Once all the cars have come to a
halt in their starting positions, the starter activates the automatic
pre-programmed final start procedure: five lights turn red one after
the other at one-second intervals until all five lights are lit.
The start signal is the extinction of all the lights at once. This
occurs between 0.2 and 3 seconds after the last red light has been
lit. This lapse of time is pre-programmed by the starter at each
race, but kept secret.
If a driver is delayed during the formation lap and cannot reach the grid
and stop before the last light is illuminated, he must start from the
Any car which is temporarily delayed during the formation lap can regain
its position provided it does so before the "pole position" car has taken
up its position on the grid (see question 55 below).
54. How are false starts detected?
Each position on the grid is equipped with electronic sensors. These transmit
a signal to a central unit located in the control tower if any car moves
before the start signal has been given. The Stewards will usually inflict
a time penalty on a driver who jumps the start.
55. What happens if a driver stalls on
the starting grid?
There are three distinct scenarios:
If a driver stalls whilst the green
lights are on (indicating the start of the formation lap), his mechanics
are allowed to push the car to start it as soon as all the competitors
have left the grid. He is not permitted to overtake during the formation
lap and must start from the back of the grid. However, a driver
who has difficulty starting his car but who manages to leave before
the last car has crossed the start/finish line is allowed to overtake
during the formation lap and take up his original position on the
If a driver stalls on the grid after
the formation lap, but before the race has started (i.e. before
all the lights are extinguished), he must raise his arm to notify
the starter, who turns on the flashing yellow lights. The start
is aborted and the procedure begins again from the "5-minute" board.
In order to compensate for the additional formation lap, the race
is reduced by one lap. The driver responsible for the false start
must then start from the back of the grid.
If a driver stalls after the race
has started, so that it is too late for the starting procedure to
be interrupted, the marshals will push his car to the pit lane once
all the competitors have left the grid. If the driver is then able
to start his engine, he may rejoin the race. Otherwise, he is pushed
back to his pit where his mechanics will take over.
What procedure is
followed if more than one driver is unable to start of the formation lap?
If more than one driver is stationary and unable to start the formation
lap when the remaining cars have crossed the line (normally as a result
of mechanical problems or a stalled engine), they must all start from
the back of the grid (provided, of course, their mechanics are able to
rectify the problem in time) in the order they left to start their formation
57. Are there special starting procedures
in the event of rain?
In the event of rain, the regulations provide for different possibilities,
depending on the circumstances:
If the rain is such that, in the
opinion of the Race Director, it would be dangerous to start the
race with the normal procedure, it is possible to start behind the
Safety Car. In this case, the revolving yellow lights on the Safety
Car, which is positioned at the front of the starting grid, are
switched on no later than the one-minute signal. This indicates
to the drivers that the race will be started behind the Safety Car.
When the green lights are switched on, the Safety Car leaves the
grid followed by all the other cars. The race starts immediately,
and there is no formation lap. Overtaking is permitted only after
the Safety Car has returned into the pit lane (see 62). Prior to
this, overtaking is only permitted in order to pass a car, which
remains, on the grid, or in order to retain a grid position provided
the car overtaking left the grid before the last car crossed the
If it starts to rain after the 5-minute
signal but before the start of the race, the procedure may be interrupted
and recommenced at the 15-minute point.
If the start of the race is imminent
and a particularly heavy shower begins, and the volume of water
on the track is such that it cannot be negotiated safely, the procedure
may be interrupted by the Race Director, who will order a "10" board
with a red background to be shown. This indicates that the start
has been aborted and that there will be a delay of at least 10 minutes
before the procedure is resumed.
If weather conditions have improved
at the end of the ten-minute period, a "10" board with a green background
will be shown, indicating that the start of the formation lap will
be given 10 minutes later.
If however, the weather conditions
have not improved within ten minutes, the "10" board with the red
background is shown again, indicating a further delay of ten minutes.
This procedure may be repeated several times, but it is not necessary
to wait for the end of the 10 minutes to show the green board.
Can the race be stopped?
Yes, the FIA Race Director may interrupt the race at any time in the interests
of safety, and particularly if the circuit is blocked. This is done by
ordering red flags to be shown around the entire the track.
59. What procedures apply when the race
In the event of this happening, there are three possibilities, depending
on the number of laps completed by the race leader:
Less than two laps completed
Two or more laps completed, but less
than 75% of the total distance of the race
75% or more of the total race distance
In case A, typically when a major accident occurs during the start,
the first start is considered null and void and the new start is given
twenty minutes later. In case B, the race is considered to be in
two parts. Provided the safety conditions permit, there is a second start
twenty minutes later, with the grid determined by the classification of
the penultimate lap before the signal to stop the race (red flag) was
given. If a second start cannot be given, the classification of the race
will be that of the penultimate lap preceding the signal to stop the race
and only half the points will be awarded.
In case C, the race will be considered as finished, and all the
points will be awarded on the basis of the classification of the penultimate
lap preceding the signal to stop the race.
60. Is the race stopped in case of rain?
No, normally the race is not stopped if it starts to rain. It is up to
the drivers and teams to decide whether they want to stop at their pit
to change tyres or continue with the dry-weather tyres.
However, if the conditions are such that driving at racing speed would
constitute a serious danger, the Race Director may order the use of the
Safety Car (in which case the normal Safety Car procedure would apply
- see 57 above and 62 to 64 below). If the conditions are so extreme that
to carry on driving would be dangerous even behind the Safety Car, the
race would be stopped.
61. When is the safety car used?
The purpose of the Safety Car is to neutralize the race in the event of
an accident or other incident which exposes competitors or officials to
immediate physical danger. It may also be used in the event of a very
heavy and sudden shower (see 57 above). The Safety Car slows the racing
cars so that they do not endanger emergency teams working on or near the
track, and are not at risk from slow moving vehicles, such as ambulances.
62. What is the safety car procedure?
The Clerk of the Course (under the direction of the FIA Race Director)
dispatches the Safety Car. When the Safety Car is in use, and as soon
as it leaves the pit lane, a waved yellow flag together with the "SC"
board is shown at all the track marshals' posts. Overtaking is prohibited,
the cars must reduce their speed and line up behind the Safety Car in
the order they were on the track when the signal was shown. Once the cars
are lined up behind the Safety Car in race order and as soon as circuit
(or weather) conditions permit, it will extinguish its revolving lights
and return to the pit lane to indicate that the race will start again
when the cars next cross the line.
63. Do the laps covered behind the safety
Yes, all the laps covered behind the Safety Car count as part of the total
distance of the race.
64. May a car stop at its pit whilst
the safety car is on the track?
Yes, but it may only rejoin the track when the green light is on in the
pit lane. It will be on at all times except when the Safety Car and the
line of cars following it are about to pass or are passing the pit exit.
A car rejoining the track must proceed at reduced speed until it reaches
the end of the line of cars behind the Safety Car. It may not overtake.
Thus, a car which makes a pit stop in such circumstances will lose its
position and rejoin the race at the back of the field, (but not necessarily
in last place since there might be cars in the field which are one or
more laps behind the car which made the pit stop).
65. Is refueling allowed during the
Yes, but it must be carried out with the refueling equipment specified
by the FIA. The system is based on aviation equipment and complies with
all the other safety requirements laid down by the FIA. Refueling is
66. Are there any speed limits?
Strange though it may seem, yes, but only in the pit lane, where the speed
limit is 60 kph (37.5 mph) during practice and 80 kph (50 mph) during
the race (except Monaco – 60 kph at all times).
Electronic devices check the speed of the cars along the whole of the
pit lane. If a competitor exceeds the limit during the race, he is usually
penalized with a time penalty (see 49 above); during practice, he is usually
fined US$250 for each kph over the limit. However, as in everyday life,
the severity of the punishment is proportional to the seriousness of the
offence, and also takes repeat offences into account.
To avoid this, all the teams have equipped their cars with speed limiters
which the driver activates (usually by pressing a button on the steering
wheel) as soon as he enters the pit lane.
67. In what conditions are the cars weighed?
The Scrutineers may weigh the cars at any time, to make sure that they
never weigh less than 600 kg, including driver. A weighing device is located
at the entrance to the pit lane to enable these checks to be carried out.
During qualifying practice, a computer program selects at random the
cars which are to be checked. When a car is chosen, a red light comes
on and the driver returning to his pit must proceed to the weighing area.
If the weight of the car is less than the minimum required by the Technical
Regulations, the driver could be excluded from the event, but he has the
right to request that the car be weighed a second time. To avoid cheating,
any car which breaks down on the circuit also has to pass in front of
the computer which decides whether the car must be weighed in the same
conditions. At the end of the race, all the cars are directed to the parc
fermé where they are weighed; the drivers are also weighed before
proceeding to the podium or to their motor home. An under-weight car will
usually be excluded from the classification.
68. What are the flag signals?
In addition to the red flag, "stopping the race", and the chequered
flag, "end of the race", there are other flags, each having a specific
The blue flag during the race tells a driver he is about to be
lapped and to let the other car overtake, on pain of a time penalty for
The yellow flag indicates danger, and overtaking is prohibited.
One waved yellow flag means slow down; two waved at the same post
means slow down and prepare to stop if necessary.
The green flag indicates the end of the danger and the ban on overtaking.
A flag with vertical red and yellow stripes warns the competitors
that the track is slippery (usually oil), and a black flag with an
orange disc accompanied by the number of a car warns the driver that
his car has a mechanical problem and that he must go to his pit.
A flag with a white triangle and a black triangle accompanied by
the number of a car is a warning for unsporting behavior.
The black flag, accompanied by the number of a car, summons the
driver of such car to immediately return to his pit. This procedure is
mostly used to notify a competitor of his exclusion from the race.
69. Does the chequered flag always signal
Yes, even if the chequered flag is waved too early, the race still ends
when this signal is given. However, if the flag is waved too late the
classification is that obtained at the end of the scheduled number of
laps. Only cars which have covered 90% of the distance will be classified.
A driver does not necessarily have to still be on the track to be classified,
but if a car takes more than twice as long to complete its last lap as
the fastest lap time achieved by the winner, this lap will not be taken
70. Is private testing on circuits permitted?
Private testing is currently forbidden:
on any circuit which appears on the
Formula One World Championship calendar, except for Monza, Barcelona,
Silverstone and Magny Cours.
during the period between the last
event and the end of December.
during a two week period in August.
on all circuits during the week preceding
and the day after an event (except for a shakedown test of no more
than 50 km).
on any circuit which has not been
approved for Formula One.
Source : FIA