The FIA FAQ on Formula One World Championship
1. What is Formula One?
It is a set of technical regulations for single-seater racing cars, which is published annually by the FIA. The regulations specify maximum and minimum dimensions, engine capacity, what is permitted technically and what is not permitted and, perhaps most important of all, a large number of safety measures to be incorporated in the car with a view to protecting the driver. A car built to these regulations is a Formula One car. Formula 3 and Formula 3000 are also FIA Formulae, but each has lower performance than Formula One.2. How are these regulations made?
The FIA has a Formula One Technical Working Group on which the technical director of each team sits. This makes recommendations to the FIA Formula One Commission on which the teams, race promoters, engine manufacturers, sponsors, tyre manufacturers and, of course, the FIA are represented. Decisions of the Formula One Commission then go to the FIA World Motor Sport Council and ultimately the FIA General Assembly for approval.3. What is the current Formula One?
In addition to a large number of regulations governing chassis design, the current formula restricts the cylinder capacity of the engine to 3 litres, prohibits supercharging and stipulates a minimum total weight of 600 kg, including the weight of the driver and his race equipment.4. On what criteria are the Formula One technical regulations based?
They address two main concerns:
This is why there are restrictions on cylinder capacity, fuel, tyre dimensions, the minimum weight and width of the car, as well as on the dimensions and positioning of the aerodynamic devices and on electronic driving aids.
Moreover, there are stipulations relating to the strength of the chassis, the protective rollbars, leak-resistant fuel tanks, fire extinguishers, harnesses, as well as head and neck protection. The positions of the fuel and oil tanks are specified and they must have special protection. Cockpit dimensions are also regulated.
All engines must be reciprocating four strokes with ten cylinders, none of which may be oval. It is obligatory for each car to have four wheels, only two of which are steered or driven.
5. Who organises the Formula One World Championship?
The FIA is the world governing body of motor sport and, as such, administers the Formula One World Championship, as well as all other international motor sport. The Formula One World Championship was created in 1950 and is the oldest of the FIA Championships. It also has the greatest media impact. It is estimated that the seventeen Grands Prix of the 2000 season attracted over 53 billion television viewers, whilst the printed press maintained a significant presence, with an average of 650 journalists and photographers from 65 countries travelling from all over the world to cover each Event.6. How far back does Formula One go?
There was no "formula" in the early era of the motor car from 1894 (the year of the first motor race in history, from Paris to Rouen) to 1900. The existing vehicles were simply raced. A differentiation was made between the cars on the basis of their method of propulsion (petrol or steam), and their number of seats. At that time, cars always had at least two seats, and it was not until the end of the 1920s that single-seater cars were used. The invention of the rear-view mirror made an important contribution to this development, since one of the mechanic's tasks was to warn the driver that someone was trying to overtake him. From 1907 to 1939, almost every possible formula was tried. Minimum weight, maximum weight, consumption and bore were each restricted in turn, but the formula most frequently used, even after 1939, was to limit the cylinder capacity of the engines. This restriction was first introduced in 1914.
Following the introduction of the first "formula" in 1904 by the FIA (which restricted maximum weight), categories were created for the smaller cars, but the name "Formula One" did not appear until 1948. The first Formula One race was at Pau on 29 March 1948 and was won by a Maserati. The FIA Formula One World Championship was created in 1950, and the first Formula One World Championship race was the British Grand Prix, at Silverstone on 13 May 1950.7. What Is The Federation Internationale De L'automobile (FIA) and why was it created?
The FIA was created in 1904. One of its first tasks was to formulate restrictions to improve the safety of racing drivers and spectators, and to guide motor sport in a direction which would benefit the development of road cars, thus setting a pattern which has been repeated throughout the long history of motor sport.
Prior to 1904, it was virtually impossible to organise international races, since there were no common regulations. The most influential automobile clubs of the time therefore decided to create an international organisation, which would draw up common regulations, applicable to all international races. This led to the birth of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (the FIA), which was thus able to guarantee competitors that the same rules would apply wherever they were racing.8. What is a Grand Prix?
The first race to be given the title "Grand Prix" was held at Le Mans in 1906. It was restricted to "big cars", which could be described as the "Formula One" cars of the period. From then on, the term Grand Prix became associated with major circuit races for cars. Top events, which were the equivalent of today's Grands Prix, were called "Grandes Epreuves" (Great Events). However, the FIA was opposed to the popular usage of the "Grand Prix" title, which it wished to reserve for events counting towards its Formula One World Championship.
Henceforth, it was prohibited to use the Grand Prix title for an event which did not count towards this Championship, except for very rare cases with historic justification, such as the Grand Prix de Pau, which is currently a Formula 3 event.9. How is the World Champion title awarded?
There are two titles, one for the Drivers’ World Championship and one for the Constructors’ Championship. The drivers' title has been awarded since 1950, and the constructors' since 1958. The constructors add together the points scored in every race by each car of their make (they cannot enter more than two), in the same way as the drivers accumulate the total number of points scored in each event.
In the event of two drivers having the same number of points, the title is decided on the basis of the quality of the places obtained, that is, the number of first places, followed by the number of second places, etc.10. What is the scale of points?
The number of points awarded to the winner in each race has been modified on two occasions, the most recent of which was in 1991; the first now obtains 10 points (previously nine, and only eight between 1950 and 1960). From 2003, the following seven finishers are awarded points (8 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1), while until the previous season only the following five finishers received points (6 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1). Until 1959 the driver who recorded the fastest lap was given 1 point.11. how many Grands Prix are held every year?
The 1950 Championship consisted of only 7 Grands Prix. This figure gradually increased, peaking at 17 in 1977. It was then limited to 16, but the possibility of holding a maximum of 17 events was reintroduced in 1996.
A minimum of eight events must take place for the World Champion Drivers' and Constructors' titles to be awarded. More than 600 Formula One World Championship races have been held since 1950.12. Is the Grand Prix timetable always the same?
Yes, except the actual race which is usually but not invariably at 14.00 local time. Otherwise the schedule is always:
(*) Thursday for the Monaco Grand Prix13. Can any circuit host a Grand Prix?
No. Originally, a Grand Prix could be held anywhere, but increases in car performance have forced the FIA to impose stringent conditions on the lay-out, width and length of a circuit, as well as the surface, safety provisions and facilities. Only FIA Grade 1 circuits can now host a Formula One race.14. what is a Grade 1 Circuit?
Each circuit must be homologated by the FIA following a series of inspections. The homologation criteria are less strict for circuits hosting events for slower formulae which hold Grades from 2 to 5. In addition to the initial procedure, the circuits sometimes have to carry out maintenance work or update their facilities so that their homologation may be renewed. In the past, with the exception of the Monaco Grand Prix, which is the only Formula One event to take place within a town itself, circuits tended to be very fast with long straights.
Increases in the car performance have meant that these straights have had to give way to series of bends, in order to prevent excessive speeds. Similarly, very long tracks, like the old Nürburgring (22.835 km), had to be abandoned, since the costs involved in providing the safety facilities and personnel required by the regulations together with the technical facilities necessary for television broadcasting were too great. Monaco is now the shortest circuit (3.370 km), whilst Spa is the longest (6.968 km).15. What is meant by the "constructor" of a Formula One car?
A Formula One constructor is the chassis manufacturer. This is often not the same as the engine manufacturer. In the event of winning the Constructors' World Championship, the title is awarded to the chassis manufacturer.16. What criteria must a car constructor meet to be able to participate?
A constructor who wishes to enter the Formula One World Championship must submit his entry to the FIA, and provide evidence that he both designs and makes the chassis of his car and that he has sufficient technical and financial resources to take part in the Championship. The number of constructors’ teams is now limited to 12, each with 2 cars.17. Does each constructor have to compete throughout the season?
Yes. Any constructor who fails to turn up at an event may be fined several hundred thousand dollars. A constructor may not join the championship during the season.18. Can any driver compete in a Grand Prix?
No. In order to be able to take part in a Grand Prix, a driver must hold a "Super Licence", which is awarded on the basis of his past record in junior formulae and of his having a valid contract with a Formula One team which has entered the World Championship.19. Are the teams allowed to change driver during the season?
Yes, each team may change the driver of its first car once in the season. For the second car, a maximum of three drivers may take turns, without restriction, during any one season. This excludes cases of exceptional circumstances, which are considered separately. Notification of a change of driver must be made before 16:00 on the Thursday (Wednesday for Monaco). After that deadline, a driver change may only take place with the consent of the stewards.20. Do the drivers keep the same race number throughout the season?
Yes, provided they stay with the same team, as the numbers are attributed to the constructors, not the drivers. The only exception is the reigning World Champion, who is always allocated number 1 (even if he changes team), and his teammate who is given number 2.21. Is the number of laps during the practice sessions free?
For qualifying practice only, a maximum of 12 laps is allowed and any driver running over the maximum of 12 laps will have all his qualifying times cancelled. However, at the discretion of the Stewards, he may be allowed to start the race from the back of the grid.22. How do drivers qualify for a race?
Qualifying practice is on Saturday, from 1 pm to 2 pm. In order to qualify, a driver must set a time within 107% of the fastest time.23. What is the warm-up?
The warm-up is a free practice session which takes place on the morning of the race and lasts for half an hour. Only drivers who have qualified may take part in it. It begins four and a half hours before the start of the race.
The warm-up enables the teams to test the cars in their race configuration.24. Can the drivers change cars during the event?
Each two-car team may use a maximum of two cars during free practice, and a maximum of three cars for qualifying practice, provided that all the cars have been checked by the Scrutineers and are of the same make (chassis and engine).
However, no change of car is permitted once the green light signalling the start of the formation lap which precedes the actual race start has been shown.
Nevertheless, if the race has to be stopped before two laps have been completed by the leader, the starting procedure is repeated and starts again from the T-15 point (see 60 below). Once again car changes are permitted until the green light is shown.25. How is the starting grid arranged?
The starting grid consists of two cars per row in staggered formation, with an interval of eight metres between each row. The driver who set the fastest time will start from the front in the so-called "pole position", and the others will line up on the grid in the order of the times they have achieved. In the event of a tie, the driver who achieved the time first is given priority.26. Do the constructors design special cars for the qualifying session?
Special cars as such are not built for qualifying, but special engines, special set-ups and significant modifications are made for qualifying practice.27. How long does a Grand Prix last?
The distance of a Grand Prix is the least number of laps which exceeds 305 km, but no race may last for more than two hours. On certain slower circuits (such as Monaco), in the event of rain, the Clerk of the Course is sometimes obliged to stop the race after two hours.28. Does a Grand Prix always start, rain or shine?
Yes, a Formula One Grand Prix takes place in all weather conditions, and the tyre manufacturers have developed special treaded tyres, which help to avoid the risk of aquaplaning. Nevertheless, the Race Director has the power to stop the race, if this becomes necessary for safety reasons. Apart from grip, the greatest problem in the event of rain is visibility, which is significantly reduced due to the spray thrown up by the cars' tyres. In order to help counteract this problem, the cars are equipped with a red light at the rear which must be illuminated at all times when the car is running on wet-weather tyres.29. How powerful are Formula One engines?
Even though the constructors never divulge exact details of their engine power, the maximum is known to exceed eight hundred horsepower in some cases. Manufacturers of engines claim that maximum power is not always the most important factor. Having power available at lower engine speeds is often of equal importance, especially in slow corners.30. What speeds do Formula One cars reach?
The Grand Prix with the highest average speed in history was the 1971 Italian Grand Prix, won by Peter Gethin in a BRM at an average speed of 242.615 km/h (150.754 mph) on the Monza circuit which at the time did not have any chicanes (interestingly, a recent computer simulation suggested that current Formula One cars would achieve an average speed of well over 300 km/h - 190 mph - on the original circuit). In 2000, the fastest Grand Prix was the German, won by Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) at an average of 215.340 km/h (133.806 mph). The highest straight line speed recorded during a Grand Prix in the 2000 season was set by David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), at 361.8 km/h (221.1 mph), during the Italian Grand Prix.31. Are the cars currently used faster than the cars of the "turbo" era?
If a 1.5-litre turbocharged car were produced today, as was the case up until 1988, it would be a great deal faster than the contemporary 3-litre cars. However, contemporary cars benefit from significant technological progress, allowing them to exceed the speeds of the 1988 turbocharged models, despite the fact that these were able to rely on over 1200 horsepower in qualifying.32. Can a Formula One car race without suspension?
No. The regulations stipulate genuine suspension. For example, the fitting of rubber blocks is not sufficient. However, the current cars have very little suspension travel, in order to restrict changes in trim which would influence the effectiveness of the aerodynamic devices.33. Why do the regulations require the cars to have flat lower surfaces?
It became evident that significant downforce could be achieved by fitting inverted aeroplane wings underneath the car. In order to reduce downforce (the so-called "ground effect"), and thus reduce cornering speed, the FIA made it obligatory for each car to have a flat bottom between the rear wheel centre line and the rear of the front wheels. The constructors have nevertheless managed to optimise the behaviour of the aerofoils and aerodynamic extractors situated behind the gear box, to such an extent that a current Formula One car is capable of sustaining lateral accelerations of up to 5G, whereas a good road car achieves about 1G.34. Are Formula One cars fitted with a starter?
A starter has not been obligatory for several years, teams normally choose not to fit one in order to save weight . They are permitted to use a portable starter in front of their pits and on the starting grid, but if a driver stalls on the circuit during the race, he has to retire, even if the car restarts once the marshals have pushed it away from a dangerous position.
However, all cars are fitted with sophisticated electronically controlled anti-stall systems.35. Do Formula One cars have automatic gearboxes?
Yes, in some cases as they are allowed from the 2001 Spanish Grand Prix.36. How many gear ratios do Formula One cars have?
The rapid changes possible with semi-automatic gearboxes mean that most transmissions are fitted with seven gears, the maximum permitted by the Technical Regulations. A reverse gear is also compulsory but may not be used in the pit-lane.37. Do Formula One cars have better brakes than series produced cars?
The brakes on series-produced cars are derived from the disc brakes which were first used in racing. All Formula One cars are equipped with brakes with callipers made from light alloy while the discs and pads tend to be made from synthetic materials, e.g. carbon. Their resistance to heat is much greater than that of series-produced brakes (which is why, in certain conditions, the insides of the wheels appear completely incandescent) and they weigh significantly less. Their braking power is very high: at the end of a straight, at maximum speed (around 340 km/h - 212.5 mph), a Formula One car can brake at less than 100 metres in order to take a slow corner.38. Is a special type of fuel used in Formula One?
No. Unleaded very low sulphur ("green") fuel is used. It already complies with the EEC standards which will come into force in 2005 for everyday use.
At one time, the fuel used in Formula One consisted of a mixture of hydrocarbons, and was a very special fuel, which bore little resemblance to commercial petrol.
The FIA introduced regulations, with the dual aim of steering the oil companies' research in the right direction, so that it would benefit the ordinary motor car, and of significantly reducing pollution. The fuel used by Formula One cars is in general not yet available from petrol pumps. However, the oil companies are now using fuels which could be commercialised, and which probably will be in the future. Thus Formula One serves as a laboratory, which will ultimately be of benefit to the ordinary motor car (see also question 42).39. How many tyres are permitted per car at each Grand Prix?
The regulations stipulate that each driver may use a maximum of 40 dry-weather tyres (12 of which may not be used after the first day of practice) and 28 wet-weather tyres throughout the duration of the event. Moreover, each driver may use a maximum of two rubber specifications for his dry-weather tyres during free practice, but he must then choose the rubber specification he wishes to use for the rest of the event before the start of qualifying practice. Every single tyre used at a Grand Prix incorporates an FIA-supplied bar-code so that the scrutineers can check that no driver exceeds the maximum number of tyres allowed.40. How is the type of rubber selected?
A hard or softer type of rubber is selected on the basis of the driver's style, the design of the car, the atmospheric temperature and the lay-out of the circuit. In general, the slower the circuit and the cooler the temperature, the softer the rubber, allowing greater grip. On the other hand, high speeds, together with a highly abrasive track wear the tyres down more quickly. The team and the driver must therefore strike a balance between various options, i.e. whether to mount harder tyres which may grip less well but permit fewer pit-stops, or whether to use softer tyres which will have to be changed several times during the race. A judicious choice sometimes enables one of the slower cars to win a Grand Prix. Tyre changes have become a part of the Formula One racing, and the better trained teams usually manage to change all four tyres and refuel in the space of 5 to 10 seconds, depending on the quantity of fuel they want to put in the tank.41. Are the cars checked during the event?
The day before practice begins, the scrutineers carry out a tour of the garages, checking that all the cars comply with the regulations. In addition to this, spot checks are carried out and all the cars, which finish the race, are checked in the parc fermé once they have crossed the finish line. Any car which does not comply with the technical regulations is normally excluded. However, the final decision rests with the Stewards.42. How are the fuel checks carried out?
At the start of the season, each team entered in the Championship must provide a sample of 10 litres of each petrol it wishes to use. Each sample is analysed by a specialised laboratory, to check that it is in conformity with the Technical Regulations and is a genuine commercial fuel (see also question 38).
If the sample is approved, a so-called "fingerprint" of the fuel is taken by the FIA. At the events, the FIA Technical Delegate carries out spot checks, taking samples of petrol from the cars during the practice sessions or after the race. Using gas chromatography and a device for measuring the density of the fuel, the samples are analysed instantaneously, to see on site whether their fingerprint is identical to the reference fingerprint previously approved by the FIA.
A team may change the petrol it uses several times during the season, but it must have submitted a sample to the FIA and receive approval in each case.43. Are such things as abs brakes, stability control or four wheel steering allowed in Formula One?
No, as a general rule driving aids of this kind are prohibited.44. But these are commonplace on road cars?
Yes, but Formula One is a contest between drivers. Although the cars are built to the extremes of technology, it is felt the drivers should exploit them with minimal aid from on-board computers. Otherwise much of the skill of the drivers would become unnecessary and the sport would lose its human aspect.45. How can the FIA check? how can prohibited electronic functions be detected?
On site, at each Grand Prix, the FIA has an electronic laboratory as well as sophisticated equipment and a team of experts who, at any time (even on the starting grid), may check whether a car's electronics conceal electronic driving aids prohibited by the regulations. The electronics of a modern Formula One car comprise up to 500,000 lines of source code (software). Obviously, it would be impossible to carry out an in-depth check of such an electronic program, for example on the grid just before the start of the Grand Prix. Therefore, the procedure is similar to that used for the petrol.
The teams provide the FIA with their electronic programme, and the FIA checks it in detail before the start of the season. Once the programme is approved, the FIA keeps an "imprint" (an electronic "genetic code" of the car); at the events, the FIA team assigned to check the electronic programmes makes sure that the programmes installed in the cars do not differ in any way from the approved version. If need be, they may examine in detail only the lines which do not correspond to those of the approved code, and check whether or not they contain one or more parameters in breach of the regulations. The FIA team also installs an electronic lock in each team’s electronic boxes to prevent an unauthorised programme being loaded and back this up with a physical seal to prevent anyone opening the box during the event.
Once again, if anything is not in conformity, the Technical Delegate makes a report to the Stewards of the Meeting who can impose a penalty, including exclusion.46. What role does the technical delegate play?
The FIA Technical Delegate is the "policeman" and heads the team of scrutineers responsible for checking that the cars comply with the Technical Regulations. If he finds that a car does not comply, he submits a report to the Stewards, but does not have the power to disqualify or penalise a car himself.47. Who are the stewards and what are their powers?
The three Stewards are the judges, or the referees, of an event. They examine the reports submitted by the various officials and, once they have heard the explanations and defence of all the parties concerned, decide on any sanctions. In order to ensure sporting equity, the Stewards vary from one event to another; two of them are nominated by the FIA from amongst holders of the Stewards' super licence. The third Steward is designated by the National Sporting Authority of the country in which the event takes place.
The Stewards appointed by the FIA are of a different nationality from the country of the event. They may impose the sanctions set out in the International Sporting Code and, if they deem it necessary, they may request that a team or driver be summoned before the World Motor Sport Council.48. What types of sanctions may be imposed?
The sanctions set out in the International Sporting Code range from a reprimand to disqualification (a life ban), and include fines, exclusion, suspension for one or more races, and even the withdrawal of Championship points.
For any faults committed during qualifying practice, whether of a sporting or technical nature, the Stewards may also cancel all the driver's times. Nevertheless, the Stewards have the power to authorise a driver who is penalised in this manner to start from the back of the grid.49. What is a "time penalty"?
During the race, the Stewards may also impose a time penalty (sometimes called a "stop-go") on a driver. In this case, the driver must go to at his pit and remain there for the duration of the penalty, usually 10 seconds. In reality, this penalty involves a far greater loss of time, because of the time taken to return to the pit and to leave it again. Depending on the circuit, this can result in a total time loss of up to 40 seconds.
If the time penalty is imposed during the last five laps of a race, 25 seconds will be added to the race time of the driver concerned, instead of a stop-go.50. Are the stewards' decisions final?
Time penalties are, of course, final, but otherwise, a competitor who feels that he has been unfairly penalised by a Stewards' decision may appeal against this decision before the FIA International Court of Appeal. He must declare his intention to do so within one hour of being notified of the Stewards' decision. Similarly, the FIA has the right to refer a decision of the Stewards to the International Court of Appeal, if it believes that the Stewards have misjudged or inappropriately penalised the matter.51. What is the International Court of Appeal?
It is the final and highest recourse, and is, in a way, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's very own "Supreme Court”. The International Court of Appeal is independent of the Sport, and its fifteen members, who have a three-year mandate, are elected by the FIA General Assembly of 123 countries from amongst eminent judges and lawyers (some of whom are Supreme Court judges in their own country). In order for the International Court of Appeal to be able to convene, at least three judges must be present, none of whom may be of the same nationality as any of the parties concerned.52. What are the duties of the clerk of the course and the race director?
The Clerk of the Course, who is nominated by the National Sporting Authority from among holders of an FIA Super Licence, is responsible for the co-ordination of all the officials and track marshals at the Grand Prix. Nevertheless, the Clerk of the Course must work closely with, and under the authority of, the Race Director, who is nominated by the FIA. The same Race Director officiates at all the Grands Prix in the Championship.
The Race Director also acts as Safety Delegate and Official Starter. It is normally the Clerk of the Course who waves the traditional chequered flag at the end of the race.53. How is the race started?
If a driver is delayed during the formation lap and cannot reach the grid and stop before the last light is illuminated, he must start from the pit lane.
Any car which is temporarily delayed during the formation lap can regain its position provided it does so before the "pole position" car has taken up its position on the grid (see question 55 below).54. How are false starts detected?
Each position on the grid is equipped with electronic sensors. These transmit a signal to a central unit located in the control tower if any car moves before the start signal has been given. The Stewards will usually inflict a time penalty on a driver who jumps the start.55. What happens if a driver stalls on the starting grid?
There are three distinct scenarios:
If more than one driver is stationary and unable to start the formation lap when the remaining cars have crossed the line (normally as a result of mechanical problems or a stalled engine), they must all start from the back of the grid (provided, of course, their mechanics are able to rectify the problem in time) in the order they left to start their formation lap.57. Are there special starting procedures in the event of rain?
In the event of rain, the regulations provide for different possibilities, depending on the circumstances:
If weather conditions have improved at the end of the ten-minute period, a "10" board with a green background will be shown, indicating that the start of the formation lap will be given 10 minutes later.
If however, the weather conditions have not improved within ten minutes, the "10" board with the red background is shown again, indicating a further delay of ten minutes. This procedure may be repeated several times, but it is not necessary to wait for the end of the 10 minutes to show the green board.58. Can the race be stopped?
Yes, the FIA Race Director may interrupt the race at any time in the interests of safety, and particularly if the circuit is blocked. This is done by ordering red flags to be shown around the entire the track.59. What procedures apply when the race is stopped?
In the event of this happening, there are three possibilities, depending on the number of laps completed by the race leader:
In case A, typically when a major accident occurs during the start, the first start is considered null and void and the new start is given twenty minutes later. In case B, the race is considered to be in two parts. Provided the safety conditions permit, there is a second start twenty minutes later, with the grid determined by the classification of the penultimate lap before the signal to stop the race (red flag) was given. If a second start cannot be given, the classification of the race will be that of the penultimate lap preceding the signal to stop the race and only half the points will be awarded.
In case C, the race will be considered as finished, and all the points will be awarded on the basis of the classification of the penultimate lap preceding the signal to stop the race.60. Is the race stopped in case of rain?
No, normally the race is not stopped if it starts to rain. It is up to the drivers and teams to decide whether they want to stop at their pit to change tyres or continue with the dry-weather tyres.
However, if the conditions are such that driving at racing speed would constitute a serious danger, the Race Director may order the use of the Safety Car (in which case the normal Safety Car procedure would apply - see 57 above and 62 to 64 below). If the conditions are so extreme that to carry on driving would be dangerous even behind the Safety Car, the race would be stopped.61. When is the Safety Car used?
The purpose of the Safety Car is to neutralise the race in the event of an accident or other incident which exposes competitors or officials to immediate physical danger. It may also be used in the event of a very heavy and sudden shower (see 57 above). The Safety Car slows the racing cars so that they do not endanger emergency teams working on or near the track, and are not at risk from slow moving vehicles, such as ambulances.62. What is the Safety Car procedure?
The Clerk of the Course (under the direction of the FIA Race Director) dispatches the Safety Car. When the Safety Car is in use, and as soon as it leaves the pit lane, a waved yellow flag together with the "SC" board is shown at all the track marshals' posts. Overtaking is prohibited, the cars must reduce their speed and line up behind the Safety Car in the order they were on the track when the signal was shown. Once the cars are lined up behind the Safety Car in race order and as soon as circuit (or weather) conditions permit, it will extinguish its revolving lights and return to the pit lane to indicate that the race will start again when the cars next cross the line.63. Do the laps covered behind the Safety Car count?
Yes, all the laps covered behind the Safety Car count as part of the total distance of the race.64. May a car stop at its pit whilst the Safety Car is on the track?
Yes, but it may only rejoin the track when the green light is on in the pit lane. It will be on at all times except when the Safety Car and the line of cars following it are about to pass or are passing the pit exit.
A car rejoining the track must proceed at reduced speed until it reaches the end of the line of cars behind the Safety Car. It may not overtake.
Thus, a car which makes a pit stop in such circumstances will lose its position and rejoin the race at the back of the field, (but not necessarily in last place since there might be cars in the field which are one or more laps behind the car which made the pit stop).65. Is refuelling allowed during the race?
Yes, but it must be carried out with the refuelling equipment specified by the FIA. The system is based on aviation equipment and complies with all the other safety requirements laid down by the FIA. Refuelling is not obligatory.66. Are there any speed limits?
Strange though it may seem, yes, but only in the pit lane, where the speed limit is 60 km/h (37.5 mph) during practice and 80 km/h (50 mph) during the race (except Monaco – 60 km/h at all times).
Electronic devices check the speed of the cars along the whole of the pit lane. If a competitor exceeds the limit during the race, he is usually penalised with a time penalty (see 49 above); during practice, he is usually fined US$250 for each km/h over the limit. However, as in everyday life, the severity of the punishment is proportional to the seriousness of the offence, and also takes repeat offences into account.
To avoid this, all the teams have equipped their cars with speed limiters which the driver activates (usually by pressing a button on the steering wheel) as soon as he enters the pit lane.67. In what conditions are the cars weighed?
The Scrutineers may weigh the cars at any time, to make sure that they never weigh less than 600 kg, including driver. A weighing device is located at the entrance to the pit lane to enable these checks to be carried out. During qualifying practice, a computer programme selects at random the cars which are to be checked. When a car is chosen, a red light comes on and the driver returning to his pit must proceed to the weighing area. If the weight of the car is less than the minimum required by the Technical Regulations, the driver could be excluded from the event, but he has the right to request that the car be weighed a second time. To avoid cheating, any car which breaks down on the circuit also has to pass in front of the computer which decides whether the car must be weighed in the same conditions. At the end of the race, all the cars are directed to the parc fermé where they are weighed; the drivers are also weighed before proceeding to the podium or to their motorhome. An under-weight car will usually be excluded from the classification.68. What are the flag signals?
In addition to the red flag, "stopping the race", and the chequered flag, "end of the race", there are other flags, each having a specific meaning.
The blue flag during the race tells a driver he is about to be lapped and to let the other car overtake, on pain of a time penalty for obstruction.
The yellow flag indicates danger, and overtaking is prohibited. One waved yellow flag means slow down; two waved at the same post means slow down and prepare to stop if necessary.
The green flag indicates the end of the danger and the ban on overtaking.
A flag with vertical red and yellow stripes warns the competitors that the track is slippery (usually oil), and a black flag with an orange disc accompanied by the number of a car warns the driver that his car has a mechanical problem and that he must go to his pit. A flag with a white triangle and a black triangle accompanied by the number of a car is a warning for unsporting behaviour.
The black flag, accompanied by the number of a car, summons the driver of such car to immediately return to his pit. This procedure is mostly used to notify a competitor of his exclusion from the race.69. Does the chequered flag always signal the finish?
Yes, even if the chequered flag is waved too early, the race still ends when this signal is given. However, if the flag is waved too late the classification is that obtained at the end of the scheduled number of laps. Only cars which have covered 90% of the distance will be classified.
A driver does not necessarily have to still be on the track to be classified, but if a car takes more than twice as long to complete its last lap as the fastest lap time achieved by the winner, this lap will not be taken into account.70. Is private testing on circuits permitted?
Private testing is currently forbidden:
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