Formula 1 grand prix explained

The Formula 1 race on Sunday, also known as the Grand Prix, is the main event of the Grand Prix race weekend. It is a full-length race that determines the winner of the weekend and contributes to the drivers' and constructors' championship standings.

Race length

The race typically lasts around two hours and is held on a dedicated race track of the F1 calendar. The length of the race depends on the length of the specific circuit and is defined as the number of laps beyond 300 km plus one. Except the Monaco grand prix, as the average speed on that circuit is so low that the race would take too long.


The starting order, also referred to as the grid, for the race is determined by the qualifying session that takes place on the Saturday of the race weekend. Or by the result of the sprint race, if that applies to a specific weekend.

The race

Before the race starts, there is the parade lap, during which the drivers take their cars around the track to check the car's setup and wave to the crowds.
All the cars then line-up on their grid positions and the start sequence commences. Five lights go on in sequence and they will remain on for a random amount of time, so the drivers have to pay close attention. And then they go off, which is the actual start of the race and the run for the first corner for all the drivers. The race is an exciting and unpredictable event, with a wide range of strategies and tactics being employed by drivers and teams to secure the best possible result. It is the culmination of a weekend of intense competition.

During the race, drivers aim to finish in the highest possible position. Points are awarded to the top finishers based on their finishing position.

Pit stops

During the race, the drivers must make at least one pit stop to change their tires (and in the past refuel their cars). During a normal race (not declared wet), the driver must use at least 2 compounds. The compounds are set for the weekend. There are always three compounds: soft, medium and hard. Which brings a trade-off between speed and durability. In the event of rain, there are two more compounds: the intermediates and the full wets. They may also make limited adjustments to the car's setup to optimize its performance. The team's strategists must carefully plan the timing of these pit stops in order to maximize the team's chances of success.


During a race penalties can be given to a driver for behavior on track or not adhering to the rules. These can range from a time penalty like 5 or 10 seconds, which needs to be served during any pit stop or will be added to the final results. There can also be more heavy penalties like a drive-through of the pit, or even a stop-and-go penalty, typically 10 seconds, where the driver has to go into the pits and wait for 10 seconds, this needs to be served within 3 laps of the penalty given.

Fastest lap

All lap times throughout the grand prix are registered and the driver with the fastest lap is given the fastest lap award. This used to be more of an honorary award. However, under the current points system, this awards an additional point if the driver is classified in the top ten. This can give teams a reason to pit their driver in the final moments of the race to bring home an additional point, generating excitement to the end of the GP.


After the race, all drivers return to the pit. The top three finishers are interviewed right after the race. Upon which the podium ceremony starts and the top three are celebrated with their awards and champagne. A selected member of the winning constructor is also on the podium to receive the constructor award and join in the celebration.

Date last modified: 2024-05-31 23:01:09 - 2 weeks ago



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