Updated: May 29
Photo cred: Jamey Price
A Guide to Formula One Racing
By: Megan Conroy
Editor: Gabrielle Nordstrom
Formula One (F1) is one of the most popular and prestigious motorsport events in the world. This high-speed racing competition, which began in 1950, attracts millions of fans from around the globe. If you’re looking to be one of those passionate fans, here’s a breakdown of Formula One teams and drivers, rules, race weekends, and some tips from fans.
Formula One is composed of 10 teams with two drivers each.
2023 Teams & Drivers by Current Standings
Red Bull: Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez (224 points)
Aston Martin: Lance Stroll & Fernando Alonso (102 points)
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton & George Russel (96 points)
Ferrari: Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz (78 points)
McLaren: Lando Norris & Oscar Piastri (14 points)
Alpine: Pierre Gasly & Estaban Ocon (14 points)
Haas: Kevin Magnussen & Nico Hulkenberg (8 points)
Alfa Romeo: Zhou Guanyu & Valterri Bottos (6 points)
AlphaTauri: Nick De Vries & Yuki Tsunoda (2 points)
Williams: Alexander Albon & Logan Sargeant (1 point)
Point System & Rules
The primary goal of Formula One (F1) racing is for each driver to finish each Grand Prix race within the top 10 positions. The top 10 finishers in each race earn points, with the first driver to cross the checkered flag after completing the designated number of laps receiving 25 points. The second place finisher earns 18 points, while the third place finisher gets 15 points. After the podium positions, the fourth place finisher receives 12 points, fifth place gets 10, sixth place gets eight, seventh place gets six, eighth place gets four, ninth place gets two, and the tenth place finisher gets one point.
Drivers who finish outside the top 10 positions, from 11th to 20th place, do not receive any points. At the end of the F1 season, the driver who has accumulated the most points across all races is crowned the Driver's World Champion, while the team who has amassed the highest number of points across all its drivers throughout the season is awarded the Constructors' World Championship.
Flags play an important role in Formula One races, as they are used to convey various messages to the drivers. For instance, a red flag indicates the race has been suspended due to an incident or unsafe track conditions.
When a yellow flag is waved, it signifies the presence of a hazard on the track, and drivers must slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary. In some cases, a safety car may be deployed to help clear debris from the track.
A green flag signals the race has resumed after a caution period or a safety car period.
A black flag indicates a driver has violated a rule, and they must immediately enter the pit lane for a penalty or retire from the race. Sometimes, a black flag with an orange circle is shown, indicating a driver must make repairs to their car before continuing.
The checkered flag is waved at the end of the race to signify the race is over.
Penalties are given for various reasons. Typically, they are given in the form of time with a five or 10 second delay. A driver can be penalized for starting the race too early, causing an unnecessary accident, blocking another driver unfairly, speeding in the pit lane, and other sport violations. A driver may not use more than their allowed number of power units or make an unscheduled gearbox change and will receive a decent penalty for these infractions. Serious violations may require reprimands, and after five, will result in a 10 grid position penalty.
Photo by Jamey Price
Grand Prix Weekends
The 2023 season began on March 3rd in Bahrain where Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, and Fernando Alonso took podium positions. Two weeks later, on March 19th, Sergio Perez took first, Max Verstappen took second, and Fernando Alonso took third. The third race of the season was in Australia at the beginning of April, and the fourth was the Azerbaijan Grand Prix where new sprints were introduced.
The most significant events in the F1 season are undoubtedly the Grand Prix weekends, which usually take place over three days. The action kicks off on Friday with two 90 minute practice sessions, during which drivers have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the track and fine-tune their cars.
On Saturday, the focus shifts to the qualifying sessions, which are critical in determining the grid positions for the upcoming race. The qualifying process comprises three sessions, known as Q1, Q2, and Q3.
During Q1, all twenty drivers are given 18 minutes to set a time. The five drivers with the slowest times are then eliminated and will start the race in positions 16 to 20 on the grid. The remaining 15 drivers move on to Q2, where they have 15 minutes to set a time. Once again, the five slowest drivers are eliminated, and they will start the race in positions 11 to 15.
The final session, Q3, is reserved for the top 10 drivers from Q2, who compete for the top 10 grid positions. The drivers are given 12 minutes to set their fastest lap time, and their performance in this session will determine their starting position for the race.
Overall, the qualifying sessions are a crucial part of the F1 weekend, as they play a significant role in shaping the outcome of the race.
A few races in the 2023 season include a sprint session, in addition to the traditional race. These sessions are shorter than the main race and take place on a different day, usually Saturday. The sprint sessions are designed to be more intense and fast-paced, with the aim of creating an exciting and unpredictable spectacle for the fans.
Sunday marks the day of the actual race. After the drivers have secured their grid positions from the qualifying sessions, they line up on the grid for the start of the race. A series of red lights are illuminated on the starting grid, which extinguish one by one in one second intervals until the green light signals the start of the race.
The race typically spans over two hours, although it cannot exceed this duration, unless there is a suspension due to safety or other issues. During this time, the drivers compete fiercely, maneuvering their cars around the track to try to gain an advantage over their competitors. The top three drivers will receive maximum points and a podium position.
Photo by Jamey Price Cred:https://www.caranddriver.com/photos/g39966628/photographer-jamey-price-miami-f1-grand-prix-gallery/?slide=42
Tips from fans of F1
I asked some fellow Girls Club members what they would recommend for people trying to get into F1. Here’s what they had to say:
Watch Drive to Survive, the Netflix documentary details F1 seasons from 2018 to current
Make time on weekends to watch the pre-race interviews, typically an hour or two prior to the race
Listen to F1 podcasts and look up interviews on YouTube of your favorite drivers or teams
F1 seems complicated, but most things are when you’re just getting started. Don’t be intimidated by the facets of the sport. Anyone and everyone can watch F1 racing, regardless of what longtime fans of the sport have to say.
The season continues later in May and throughout the rest of the year. To keep up with the season, use this graphic!
Graphic by Callista Carreriro