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F1 Primer: The basics

Mar 12, 2013, 7:21 AM EDT

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Are you just discovering F1 for the first time? Today we’re running a series of F1 Primer articles which will cover all the key knowledge you need. Let’s start with the basics.

What sets F1 apart from other racing series is that each team has to build its own cars. While some parts such as engine and gearboxes can be sourced from manufacturers, the majority of the chassis has to be the team’s own design and construction.

This year there are 19 races which count towards the world championship. There are two titles up for grabs: the drivers’ championship and the constructors’ for teams.

Points are only awarded based on race finishing position, to the top ten drivers. Any points they score also count towards their team’s total in the constructors’ championship:

First | Second | Third | Fourth | Fifth | Sixth | Seventh | Eighth | Ninth | Tenth
25 18 15 12 10 8 6 4 2 1

Each race weekend consists of five sessions. Two 90-minute practice sessions take place on Friday (Thursday in Monaco) and a further 60-minute session on Saturday.

The serious business begins on Saturday afternoon with a three-part qualifying session to determine the grid. This runs in three parts of 20, 15 and 10 minutes named Q1, Q2 and Q3 respectively.

All 22 cars participate in Q1: the six slowest are eliminated and take places 17-22 on the grid. The process is repeated in Q2 to set places 11-16. That leaves a top-ten shoot-out for pole position and the remaining nine places.

For the race on Sunday the top ten qualifiers must start on the same tires they set their quickest Q3 time on. Two different types of dry tire are available for each race from a selection of four: hard, medium, soft and super-soft. Every driver must use the two different dry compounds at some point during the race, unless rain tires are used.

The races last for 189 miles (305km) or two hours, whichever comes first, except in Monaco where the slow track means the distance is reduced to 161 miles (260km). Drivers cannot refuel during the race.

You can read the rules and regulations in full on the website of the sport’s governing body, the FIA.

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