Cliff Notes To The Formula 1


The quick F1 basics for the non-fan amongst fans

Sure Formula one (F1) started in 1950, but it was only recently that your local, intentionally started to show the races on all their screens. Here are a few of the basics to get acquainted with this ultimate test of man and machine. Or at least to hold you over until you can sneak off to Google the latest stats.


Travelling across five continents, this zenith of motor racing pushes driver and car to their limits in the quest for speed. ‘Formula’ denotes the distinctive set of rules governing the cars, teams and racers. With the fastest and most advanced cars in international motorsport, ‘One’ refers to the governing body’s – FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) – recognition of the championship’s status as the highest level.


This is an hour-long, three-part process that gives the fastest driver pole or prime positions on the starting grid. First qualifying session (Q1) is 20minutes long to determine the six slowest drivers who’ll be at the back of the starting grid (17-22nd spots). Q2 which is 15minutes determine 11-16th spots. Q3, also known as the ‘Shootout’, takes the 10 fastest cars for 10 minutes to determine their position on the grid based on their best lap times.


F1 races are monitored by a panel of race stewards and give out penalties to infractions such as unnecessary collision, jumping the start, corner cutting, speeding in the pit lane or passing under caution. Punishments include “Drive-Through” penalties, where a driver must drive through the pit lane before directly re-joining the race. If it’s a time penalty such as a five or 10 seconds penalty, they must stop at their garage in the pit lane and wait that number of seconds before re-joining the race.


At the end of each race, the top 10 finishers will get points that go towards their overall tally. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place get 25, 18 and 15 points respectively, while tenth place gets only 1 point. Since 2012, there have been a maximum of 20 Grand Prix (GP) annually, with some of the most anticipated being the Canadian, Japanese, British, Monaco and Belgian GP. At the end of the season, the driver with the highest cumulative points wins the championship title.

Teams & Drivers

Currently, there are 10 teams in F1, which are permitted to compete with two cars each. These teams include Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, Force India, Williams, Toro Rosso, Haas, Renault, McLaren and Sauber. According to Forbes, Ferrari remains the dominant team, valued at $1.33 billion, followed by Mercedes ($685 million), McLaren ($655 million) and Red Bull ($630 million). Drivers change teams frequently, for example, headline changes in 2017 include Valtteri Bottas joining Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes after Nico Rosberg retired. Nico Hulkenberg moved to Renault and Felipe Massa reversed his retirement decision and is with Williams. When in doubt, look out for Sebastian Vettel – who is the industry’s current top earner. Followed by Fernando Alonso (McLaren) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

2017 Season Changes

This year, the cars are physically harder to drive but also faster. Areas of interest were the tyres and bodywork which got wider to increase the grip and down force. The heaviest the car can be is 702kg, and with tyres, it should come to 722kg. When it comes to power units, a rule change has prevented drivers from stockpiling power unit elements.
For more information, head over to the website to view the full spectrum of rules and regulations.

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