Skip to content

F1 Primer: The basics

Mar 12, 2013, 7:21 AM EDT

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

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.

F1 Primer

Latest Posts
  1. Mark Miles: “We are not going to have a five-month season” in 2016

    Jul 1, 2015, 5:53 PM EDT

    Mark Miles Mark Miles

    The CEO of IndyCar discussed the challenges of putting together an extended series schedule.

  2. Here are your British Grand Prix air times on CNBC, NBCSN, Live Extra

    Jul 1, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    BritishGPtv Getty Images

    TV times across the board for this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

  3. Miles: After “two-sided pancake” Fontana race, IndyCar may crack down against stakeholder comments

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:59 PM EDT

    will power fontana 2015 getty Getty Images

    Could penalties be coming to drivers who speak out about IndyCar’s on-track product? Mark Miles flips some pancakes on the possibility.

  4. IndyCar issues penalties and fines following MAVTV 500 at Fontana

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:03 PM EDT

    California Speedway Getty Images

    Will Power fined, put on probation after shoving safety official during Saturday’s race.

  5. NHRA shakeup: Tom Compton retires as president, Peter Clifford named successor

    Jul 1, 2015, 2:42 PM EDT

    tom compton retires from nhra -- getty Getty Images

    In a surprise move, the NHRA announced Wednesday that president Tom Compton has retired after 15 years as the sanctioning body’s chief executive officer

  6. Pikes Peak International Hill Climb results under review

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    RHYS MILLEN RHYS MILLEN

    The provisional winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is Rhys Millen.

  7. Ed Carpenter: driver criticism of IndyCar ‘confusing for fans’

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    The CFH Racing co-owner says IndyCar will never grow if “we’re tearing it apart from the inside out.”

  8. Hawksworth: “I wouldn’t say it was crazy; it was exciting”

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    HawkTMS Getty Images

    One of A.J. Foyt’s young drivers makes some wiser points beyond his years about Saturday’s race in Fontana.

  9. Royal Purple, Manpower to Horsepower program to be featured in Red Bull GRC this week

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT

    Photo: Manpower to Horsepower Photo: Manpower to Horsepower

    Feature on Manpower to Horsepower to air during Red Bull GRC show this Sunday on NBC.

  10. F1 and classic machinery at Goodwood, 2015, in photos

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT

    McLaren Formula One driver and 2009 World champion Jenson Button prepares to drive the ex Ayrton Senna McLaren MP4. Photo; Getty Images Getty Images

    A selection of images from the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

  11. Red Bull GRC: SH Rallycross premieres patriotic HAUS livery for MCAS

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Photo: SH Rallycross Photo: SH Rallycross

    SH Rallycross’ HAUS livery for Red Bull GRC this weekend screams red, white and blue.

  12. Graham Rahal’s Fontana win was long overdue, and a long time coming

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    RahalWinGroup Getty Images

    Given how well they’ve run this year, it was really only a matter of time until Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing won a race.

  13. Report: Filippi, Brabham set for IndyCar oval tests

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Josef Newgarden, Luca Filippi AP

    Luca Filippi and Matthew Brabham set for oval tests this Wednesday at Iowa Speedway.

  14. Young drivers star in mixed, primarily wet conditions at Watkins Glen

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    BurkettWG Getty Images

    This weekend’s miserable conditions at Watkins Glen offered a lot of young drivers a chance to shine.

  15. Report: Roger Penske intends to keep his ‘four aces’ in IndyCar

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT

    roger penske 2015 getty Getty Images

    The 2015 season is the first time Roger Penske has captained four teams on the IndyCar circuit. And it appears it will be full steam ahead with four teams going forward.

  16. Mario Andretti gets Jay Leno up to speed — and then some

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:53 PM EDT

    jay leno mario andretti getty 2015 Getty Images

    Comedian and former late-night talk show host Jay Leno has spent his career making millions laugh. But recently, the joke was on Leno, so to speak – but in a good way.

  17. Racing legend Parnelli Jones featured in upcoming Indy 500 film

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT

    parnelli jones Getty Images

    If you’re a big fan of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, put this on your bucket list for next year.

  18. NHRA: Antron Brown looks to make Top Fuel fireworks this weekend

    Jun 29, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    Antron Brown Getty Images

    With five races coming up in the next six weeks, Top Fuel driver Antron Brown knows how crucial this stretch of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season will be.