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What is Formula 1? Get Started With F1 Rules and more (Part 1)

·4 mins
Motorsport F1
Mordecai Kipng'etich
Mordecai Kipng’etich
Motorsport Enthusiast and Software Developer
Table of Contents
F1 For Beginners - This article is part of a series.
Part 1: This Article

It is rare for the popularity of a sport to surge as high as Formula 1 has in the recent past and many don’t understand what is happening or where to start from. Don’t worry, I’ll try to help - first of all it’s not cars going round in circles 😂.

Formula 1 is a single seater form of open-wheeled racing and is considered the pinnacle of motorsport.

By open-wheeled I mean the drivers are not in a closed space like a normal car but are exposed to the elements. The sport is very exclusive to just the few drivers and not many people get the chance to experience the cars. Lets get to the nitty-gritty.

Image of a Mercedes F1 car during a race.

Photo by Carl Jorgensen on Unsplash

To start things off, I have section off things for easier reading.

Season Layout

The season usually starts in March but before them we have a couple of weeks where teams get to unveil their new car and also their new livery design. That is followed by winter testing where the teams get to test their car before the first race.

Races are spaced two weeks apart but some are one week apart. Mid-season there is a summer break in August before the final half resume until either end of November or early December.

After the last race, there is post-season testing at the same location prior to going for the break. The cycle resumes the next year.

Race Weekend Format

The structure of a normal race weekend is as follows:

  • Thur: Team Principal’s Press Conference
  • Fri: Driver’s Press Conference, FP1 and FP2
  • Sat: FP3 and Qualifying
  • Sun: Race

FP is Free Practice, so on Friday there are two practice sessions where the teams and driver can set up their cars and get used to the track in preparation for the race. On Saturday, the team’s finalise the setup tweaks in practice before qualifying.

Quali determines where a driver starts from on race day. It takes 1 hour and is broken into 3 timed sections: Q1, Q2 and Q3. Once the clock runs out in Q1, the bottom 5 drivers with the slowest lap times are eliminated and will start the race in that order, Q2 starts with 15 driver and ends with the top 10 who proceed for the final shootout in Q3. The driver who finishes with the best lap time come end of Q3 gets pole position and start from the front during the race.

The race itself last averagely around 90 minutes as drivers fight to stand on the podium after the race. Since the tracks differ in length, the number of laps is determined by the distance covered. The distance should sum up to about 305 km, except Monaco which is 260 km.

For a sprint weekend, qualifying will be on Friday (where FP2 would be) and will set the starting order for the sprint. FP2 is on Saturday and the Sprint where quali would typically be. The sprint is 100 km long with no mandatory stop and set the starting order the race.

Teams and Drivers

Currently there are 10 teams/constructors with each having two drivers. There are customer teams and works teams who manufacture their own engines. It is common for teams to change engine manufacturer once their contract ends. Below is a list of the 2022 teams and their engines.

  • Ferrari powered: Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Haas
  • Mercedes powered: Mercedes, Aston Martin, Williams, McLaren
  • Red Bull PowerTrains powered: Red Bull, Alpha Tauri
  • Renault powered: Alpine

For the current driver list or if you’re from the future and the teams have changed, visit the Formula 1 website.

There are two championships the World Drivers Championship (WDC) and the Constructors Championship. This is based on the points the drivers score over the whole season. For the constructors championship, the points of both drivers are added up to get the teams points.

The point systems is as follows, the winner receives 25 points, second place get 18 points followed by 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1. So in short only the top 10 score points. Also, if any of those in top 10 get the fastest lap of the race, they get an extra point.

Driver Market

The drivers can change teams once their contract ends or if another teams buys them out before their contract ends. A driver can have a one-year contract or a multi-year contract.

Most of the teams usually confirm their driver lineup for the next year by mid-season. Red Bull are in a position where they can move a driver from their main team to the sister team if they deem it so. That’s all you need to know of the driver market.

That’s Part 1 done, click here for the final part. It contains the remaining sections: rules and regulations, tyre compounds, penalties, flags and a glossary.

Till next time, find me on Twitter and enjoy F1.

F1 For Beginners - This article is part of a series.
Part 1: This Article