- Formula One returns from its summer break this weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix, but how does it work?
- Drivers and teams take part in Grand Prix and are awarded points based on where they finish.
- Each time has two drivers and while they are teammates, they do compete against each other.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
F1, also known as Formula One, is the pinnacle of single-seater racing and is the most popular and famous of all motorsports.
It began in 1946 in Turin, Italy and has since grown to become an international sport with races taking place on five continents — Europe, North America, Australasia, Asia, and South America.
The sport is overseen by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which sets out the rules and regulations that each team must abide by.
The FIA also provides the stewards for each race who are in charge of handing out penalties for drivers caught doing something they shouldn’t.
Teams and drivers race at Grands Prix and currently there are 10 teams competing with each team having two drivers, meaning a total of 20 drivers take to the track.
Points are awarded depending on where each driver finishes. At the end of the season, the team and driver with the most points wins the championship.
What is a race weekend?
While the actual race always takes place on a Sunday, the Grand Prix weekend typically begins on Friday when drivers are given their first taste of a track during Practice One. During the afternoon they will put in a few more laps as part of Practice Two.
Saturday is a crucial day for the teams as they have their third and final practice session before the qualifying session in the afternoon which decides where they will line up at the start of the race.
Qualifying is split into three sections: Q1, Q2 and Q3. In Q1, all drivers take to the track in an effort to set the quickest time during the 20-minute time frame. The slowest five cars are eliminated while the rest move on to Q2.
Q2 is 15 minutes long and the drivers will again try to record one of the top 10 quickest times. If they don’t, they are eliminated and do not move onto Q3. For those that do move on, they then must start the race using the same tyres they used in Q2 when setting their quickest time.
The final session is pivotal to those hoping to win the race itself as it decides who will start at the front, also known as pole position. Drivers have 10 final minutes to be the quickest
After qualifying, drivers have 24 hours before the race itself begins. They will line-up in the order determined by qualifying and from then on, whoever crosses the line first, wins.
How does the points system work?
Drivers gain points for finishing in the top 10 of the race in the following order:
- 1st — 25
- 2nd — 18
- 3rd — 15
- 4th — 12
- 5th — 10
- 6th — 8
- 7th — 6
- 8th — 4
- 9th — 2
- 10th — 1
- 11th to 20th — 0
The driver who sets the fastest individual lap of the race also receives one additional point, but only if they finish within the top 10.
If a driver does not finish (DNF) or does not start (DNS) they receive no points regardless of where they were in the race when they retired.
What do they win?
Formula One hands out two trophies come the end of the season, the World Drivers’ Championship and the World Constructors’ Championship.
The former is given to the driver who earns the most points over the season. The current champion is Lewis Hamilton who has won six of the past seven titles.
The Brit is tied with Michael Schumacher for the most titles in a career with seven championships.
The Constructors Championship is awarded to the team who scores the most points and, unlike the driver’s, it is the combined tally of both drivers that race for the team.
Current champions Mercedes have won every title since 2014.
How many races are there?
According to the FIA, the minimum number of races needed for a season is eight. In reality there is almost always more than double that number in the modern era.
The 2021 calendar sees a record number of races with drivers expected to compete at 23 races between March and December.