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. Honda’s superspeedway oval aero kit set to be revealed Thursday at IMS

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:44 PM EDT

    HondaSStease Getty Images

    Honda set to take the wraps off its superspeedway oval challenger this Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  2. Ten with Townsend: Long Beach and Barber debrief

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:37 PM EDT

    DixonGRbarber Getty Images

    NBCSN’s Townsend Bell looks back at the instant classic that was Barber, for MotorSportsTalk.

  3. Beyond RHR, Munoz and Andretti both score second straight top-10 at Barber

    Apr 27, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Munoz, Andretti end sixth and 10th, adding to RHR’s fifth place, to give Andretti Autosport a triple top-10 at Barber.

  4. Williams reports 34m Euro loss for 2014; bullish on future finances

    Apr 27, 2015, 10:43 AM EDT

    Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas AP

    Williams has a down financial year in 2014 but should be much better off in 2015.

  5. Power recovers to fourth at Barber after early drive-through for contact with Sato

    Apr 27, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    PowerBarber2 AP

    Power ends P4 at Barber despite drive-through penalty early in the race.

  6. WATCH: Indy Lights races from Barber at midnight ET

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Watch the pair of Indy Lights races from Barber at midnight ET.

  7. Relief, gratitude define the day where Newgarden finally gets first win (VIDEO)

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Newgarden rolls out the thank you mat after scoring his elusive first IndyCar victory.

  8. Ryan Hunter-Reay disappointed, but relieved after Barber performance

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT

    Ryan Hunter-Reay not satisfied with first top-five finish of 2015.

  9. Montoya, Castroneves still 1-2 in IndyCar points; Newgarden jumps to P4

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:42 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Penske pair still 1-2 after tough afternoon in Barber.

  10. Graham Rahal can’t close deal in runner-up finish at Barber

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:10 PM EDT

    GrahamBarberWin

    Graham Rahal comes up short in best performance in a year.

  11. Josef Newgarden scores his first IndyCar win at Barber

    Apr 26, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Newgarden scores first career win at Barber.

  12. IndyCar: Graham Rahal is halfway leader at Barber

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:43 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    We’re halfway at Barber, with Graham Rahal the leader at Lap 45 and pit stops underway.

  13. Button records new personal best in London Marathon

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Virgin Money London Marathon Getty Images

    Button joined by wife Jessica and Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon at the event on Sunday.

  14. WRC: Kris Meeke claims maiden win at Rally Argentina

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Meeke 264 Getty Images

    Meeke becomes the first British driver to win in the WRC in 13 years.

  15. SPOILER: Indy Lights race two from Barber Motorsports Park

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Results from the Indy Lights’ series second race at Barber Motorsports Park

  16. WATCH LIVE: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    BarberRibbon15 AP

    Watch the fourth round of the IndyCar season, from Barber Motorsports Park, at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

  17. WSR: Vaxiviere claims last gasp win at Motorland Aragon

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    © Renault Sport © Renault Sport

    Lotus youngster beats Nyck de Vries in a truncated second race of the Formula Renault 3.5 season.

  18. What to watch for: IndyCar at Barber (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    BarberW2W4 AP

    What to watch for ahead of Round 4 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

  19. MotoGP: Marquez fractures finger in dirt bike accident

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Marc Marquez AP

    Marquez undergoes minor surgery on his left hand, and is in doubt for next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.