FAQ

If you have a Formula 1 related question that you would like to know the answer to, send it to me and I will try to find out the answer and publish it here. Of course, if you have a question and an answer that you would like to share and you have always wanted to see your name in print (well almost), send them both in and I will credit you with the FAQ.

  1. How Are Points Allocated In A Formula 1 Race?
  2. Where Can I Buy Tickets To Formula 1 Events?
  3. Which TV Network Will Be Carrying Formula 1 This Year In The United States?
  4. What Are The Qualification Rules For A Formula 1 Race? – Updated for 2014!
  5. What Was The 107% Rule?
  6. What Is A Timed Race?
  7. What Is An Official Race?
  8. What Is The Safety Car And What Does It Do? In Which Cases Is It Used And Why?

How Are Points Allocated In A Formula 1 Race?
Over the years various different approaches have been taken to the way points are scored in Formula 1 races. The most recent change came in 2010 when the number of scoring positions was increased to 10 to reflect the larger number of teams competing that year.

Also in 2010, the difference between the number of points scored for each position was increased so that winning a race would be more significant. This move followed a suggestion that the points system be done away with altogether and replaced by Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for the top three finishers in each event similar to the Olympic games.

Points are awarded to the top 10 finishers in a race as follows:

Place: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Points: 25 18 15 12 10 8 6 4 2 1

Unlike most other forms of motor racing these are the only points awarded and drivers get no extra points for qualifying on the pole or leading laps during the race.
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Where can I buy tickets to Formula 1 events?
Many people have asked me where they can buy tickets to Formula 1 races and there are many local resources such as travel agents, Web sites for the promoters or owners of the race venue, racing magazines etc. A good place to start is the Web site of the race track that you wish to attend.
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Which TV network will be carrying Formula 1 this year in the United States?
Viewers in the U.S. will again be able to see Formula One television coverage on NBC in 2014. Some events will be shown on the main NBC network channel and others will be shown on one of the NBC cable channels. The NBC Sports Group will televise all F1 races as well as qualifying and practice sessions. In 2013 NBC replaced Speed which had held F1 broadcast rights for the previous 17 years since they took over from ESPN.

F1 coverage on NBC will sound fairly familiar to U.S. viewers as they have kept the majority of the old Speed broadcast team together with Leigh Diffey (play-by-play) joining regulars David Hobbs (analyst), Steve Matchett (analyst) and Will Buxton (pit reporter). Leigh Diffey, while not Speed’s usual F1 anchor, has substituted several times for Bob Varsha over the years when he was busy with other events. Varsha, who has been the voice of Formula One in America for several decades, has decided to stay with the network.

The new F1 season begins in March 2013 and so we will have to wait a few months to see how the NBC Sports Group’s Formula One coverage compares to the previous version.

Update: In a reversal of their previous roles it appears that Bob Varsha will be substituting for Leigh Diffey when he is busy covering Indy Car events for NBC Sports so the old Speed F1 team will be back together again.
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What Are The Qualification Rules For A Formula 1 Race?
For 2014 qualification takes place in three knockout sessions of 18, 15 and 12 minutes respectively, this is a small change from the 20, 15 and 10 minute sessions of the past few years. The cars in the final qualifying session will be given an extra set of tyres to use just in that session in the hope that they will compete and not just sit it out to conserve their tyres.

The slowest six cars in each of the first two sessions are eliminated and they fill the grid from the back. The 10 fastest cars then compete for the 10 remaining grid positions in the final session. Depending on the number of entries, the number of cars eliminated in each of the first two sessions will be adjusted so that there will always be 10 cars in the final session.

Prior to 2010 when refueling during the race was banned, cars making it to the final qualifying session had to start the race with whatever fuel was left in their tank and so they had to carry enough fuel for the first part of the race. This meant that the quickest times of the day were usually set in the second period when it was usual to run with just enough fuel to complete the qualifying laps.

For 2005 and 2006 the qualification procedure was as follows:

At the start of the 2005 season the FIA moved the two-day qualifying process up a day so that, instead of qualifying on Friday and Saturday, drivers would now be qualifying on Saturday and Sunday with the final session not long before the start of the race itself.

This process was unpopular with both fans and broadcasters and so prior to the European Grand Prix qualifying was changed from two sessions to one. Each car will run a single hot lap on Saturday to qualify for the following day’s race. The cars will go out to qualify in reverse order of their finishing position in the previous race.

For 2003 and 2004 the qualification procedure was as follows:

After Ferrari ran away with all of the titles in 2002 the qualification process was completely revised for the 2003 season.

Qualifying is now a two-day process split over the Friday and Saturday before each race day. Each car gets a single hot lap on an empty track each day with the grid from Friday inverted for Saturday so that the fastest car from the first day of qualifying gets to run last on the second day when the track is presumably at its best.

After the second and final qualification round no further work is allowed on the cars before the race begins apart from checking the tyre pressures and positioning cooling devices to prevent overheating. As cars must now start the race on the same tyres and fuel load as they qualified with most cars will now be qualifying with full fuel cells and will be slower than last year. Lightweight suspension parts and over-revving qualifying engines will also be a thing of the past unless a team wants to risk running the whole race that way.

Like many other changes to be phased in this year the idea of the new qualification rules is to level the playing field for the less affluent teams by making it harder for the better financed teams to take advantage of their larger budgets and resources. While the weak global economy and shrinking viewing figures make some changes inevitable there is still a feeling that this is the first step in the NASCAR-ization of Formula 1 which has always been about maximum technology for those that can afford it and never mind the cost.

The 107% rule was abandoned after the 2002 season and so any car that enters will be able to start no matter how badly they qualify.

Prior to 2003 the qualification procedure was as follows:

Qualifying for a F1 race takes place on the day before the race during a single timed 60 minute session. Each driver is allowed a maximum of 12 laps to post their best time which will decide the grid position for the following days’ race.

In the past when there were more entrants than starting positions the slowest drivers would be eliminated from the grid but in recent years the field has been reduced by rising costs and it got to a point where if you arrived you were guaranteed a place on the grid no matter how slow your qualifying speed was.

This led to the introduction of the 107% rule which eliminates any driver who is outside 107% of the fastest qualifying time – apart from a few times when exemptions have been made for a special case such as bad weather during the qualifying period or the field being too small. In theory this rule should make all of the starters fairly competitive and keep the slowest cars off of the track. In practice, however, there are several teams who can manage a couple of hot laps to get onto the back of the grid but who quickly fade during the race causing hold-ups and accidents as the much faster race leaders struggle to get around them so that they can get on with the race.
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What Is A Timed Race?
As well as its scheduled distance each Formula 1 race has a maximum allowed running time of 2 hours (this is also true of most IndyCar races but the time limit is extended for longer events). Normally races finish well within this time but if accidents or bad weather cause a race to be run at a slower pace than usual and there is not enough time to run the full number of laps, the race will be declared a timed race and the first time that the race leader crosses the Start/Finish line after the 2 hour limit the race will be over.

As long as the race has reached at least 75% of the full race distance it is an “Official” race and championship points will be awarded as usual.
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What Is An Official Race?
A Formula 1 race is “Official” once it has reached 75% of the full race distance. After that, if the race is stopped or shortened due to the 2 hour rule, it will still count for full championship points.

As long as at least two laps have been completed, a race which ends before the 75% point will count for half points towards the championship. No points at all will be awarded if the race leader has not completed at least two laps.
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What Is The Safety Car And What Does It Do? In Which Cases Is It Used And Why?
The safety car, which has been used in F1 for the last few years, is the same as the pace car which is used in most forms of American motorsport.

When there is a hazard on the track which the stewards feel is too serious to just show a local yellow flag around the incident, but which is not serious enough to show a red flag and stop the race entirely, they can declare a full-course yellow (all the corner workers around the track wave their yellow caution flags) and bring out the safety car.

The safety car pulls onto the track in front of the race leader and drives around at a safe pace until the hazard has been removed. As it is an infraction to pass the safety car — or any other car in a caution period — this also keeps all the other cars behind at a safe speed. Any cars between the safety car and the race leader can be waved by and they can catch up with the back of the pack.

Apart from accidents and breakdowns in dangerous places, the safety car is also used in heavy rain when the stewards think it is unsafe to allow the drivers to choose their own speed.

A lot of drivers dislike the safety car as it allows all of the cars in the field to bunch up and can erase a lead which a driver may have taken many laps to create.

In the USA where close racing is the ideal and a large lead is not encouraged the pace car has sometimes been brought out for almost no reason by the organizers just to bunch up the field and create the excitement of the last lap shoot-out that NASCAR is so fond of. “Debris on the track” is the most familiar reason for one of these questionable uses of the pace car.
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