Formula One regulations

Formula One regulations

The numerous Formula One regulations, made and enforced by the FIA and later the FISA, have changed dramatically since the first Formula One World Championship in 1950. This article covers the current state of F1 technical and sporting regulations, as well as the history of the technical regulations since 1950.

Current rules and regulations



An F1 car can be no more than 180 cm wide. Though there is no maximum length or height, other rules set indirect limits on these dimensions, and nearly every aspect of the car carries size regulations; consequently the various cars tend to be very close to the same size.

The car must only have four wheels mounted externally of the body work with only the front two steered and only the back two driven. There are minimum distances allowed between the wheels and the rear and front body work.

The main chassis contains a "safety cell" which includes the cockpit, a structure designed to reduce impact directly in front of the cockpit, and the fuel tank directly behind the cockpit. Additionally, the car must contain roll structures behind and ahead of the driver. The driver must be able to enter and exit the cockpit without any adjustments other than removing the steering wheel.

Onboard electrical and computer systems, once inspected at the start of the season, may not be changed without prior approval. Electronic starters and launch control are forbidden. The computers, which must contain a telemetric accident data reporting system, run a modified version of BSD.


Formula One engines must be naturally aspirated, four-stroke internal combustion petrol engines with reciprocating circular pistons and a maximum of two intake and two exhaust valves per cylinder. They must be V8 engines and have a maximum displacement of 2.4 litres.

The rules between 2000 and 2005 [] [] stated that Formula One engines may be no more than 3 litres engine displacement and must have 10 cylinders. In order to curb increasing power levels, the maximum engine displacement was reduced to 2.4 litres, and the number of cylinders to 8 for 2006. However, a concession was made in the rules to allow some teams the option of running 10 cylinder 3.0 litre engines for 2006. This rule was intended to help smaller teams unable to produce an engine and chassis to comply fully with the new regulations in time for the 2006 season. All teams using the 10 cylinder 3.0 litre engines were subject to a rev limiter to limit power.

Devices designed to pre-cool air before it enters the cylinders are not allowed, nor is the injection of any substance into the cylinders other than air and (petrol) fuel.

Variable-length intake and exhaust systems are also forbidden.

The crankshaft and camshafts must be made of steel or cast iron. The use of carbon composite materials for the cylinder block, cylinder head and pistons is not allowed.

Kinetic energy recovery (hybrid technology) is permitted beginning in 2009 provided no more than 400 kJ is used in any one lap and no more than 60 kW (80 hp) in or out is permitted. In addition to one fully charged KERS the maximum recoverable energy stored on the car may not exceed 300 kJ. [ [ 2009 F1 Technical Regulations] ]

Separate starting devices may be used to start engines in the pits and on the grid. If the engine is fitted with an anti-stall device, this must be set to cut the engine within ten seconds in the event of an accident.


Parc fermé

After weighing during each qualifying session, teams are required to take their cars to a place in the paddock, sectioned off by the FIA, known as "parc fermé"; they may not do work on the cars, other than routine maintenance, until they are released from "parc fermé" for the race the next morning.

If a team must change a car's engine between "parc fermé" and the start of the race, the car will start at the back of the grid; if they must do other significant work, body work or suspension adjustments, the car will start from the pit lane.

Race procedure

:"See Formula One racing for a detailed schedule of a complete race weekend and further race information."The pit lane opens thirty minutes before the start of a race, during which time drivers may drive around the track as much as they like, driving through the pitlane each time around in order to avoid the grid. Drivers must be in their cars and in place on the grid by time the pit lane closes at -15:00; otherwise they must start the race from the pits. Meanwhile, teams may work on their cars on the grid.

At -10:00 the grid is cleared of everyone except team mechanics, race marshals, and drivers. A team will generally want to keep its tyres off their cars and heated in their tyre-warmers for as long as possible, but they must be attached to the cars by -3:00.

Engines must be running by -1:00; at fifteen seconds to the start all personnel must be clear of the track. Two green lights signify the start of the formation lap, also known as the parade lap, during which drivers must remain in the same order (no passing) except if a car ahead has stopped due to a technical problem, or has had an accident. The cars circle the track once, usually weaving from side to side to warm up their tyres, and form up again in their starting positions on the grid.

If, for some reason, a car cannot start the race (engine failure during qualifying or practice, suspension fails, etc), the car can still join the race, but will take a 10-position penalty at the start. For example, if the car qualifies in 3rd, but has to change an engine at any point during the race weekend prior to the actual race, the car will start from 13th position. For strategy's sake, teams will sometimes opt to start a car affected in this way from the pit lane. This means they start at the tail end of the grid; however, they can not only change an engine, but also start the race on a full load of fuel and with fresh tyres.

The race is started by five red lights, controlled by FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting. The lights illuminate one at a time, left to right, in one-second intervals, and then go out simultaneously after an interval of between four and seven seconds. When the lights go out, the race begins. Should the start need to be aborted for any reason, all five red lights will come on as normal, but instead of going out, the three orange lights will flash. All engines are stopped and the start resumes from the five minute point. If a single driver raises his hand to indicate that he can't start, the marshall for that row will wave a yellow flag, then after a few seconds, both the red and orange lights will extinguish and the green lights will come on to indicate another formation lap. [ [ FIA Sporting Regulations - Race start procedure] ]


The Driver's and Constructor's Championships are decided by points, which are awarded according to the place in which a driver classifies at each grand prix. To receive points a racer need not finish the race, but at least 90% of the winner's race distance must be completed. Therefore, it is possible for a driver to receive some points even though he retired before the end of the race. In that case the scoring is based on the distance completed in comparison to other drivers. It is also possible for the lower points not to be awarded (as at the 2005 United States Grand Prix) because insufficient drivers completed 90% of the winner's distance. The system was revised in 2003, and as of 2008 points are allocated as follows:

For scoring systems prior to 2003, refer to the List of Formula One World Championship pointscoring systems.

Drivers finishing lower than eighth place receive no points.

If the race had for some reason to be abandoned before 75% of the planned distance (rounded up to the nearest lap) had been completed, then the points awarded are halved: 5, 4, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.5, 1, 0.5.

Points are awarded equally to the driver and his constructor; for example, if a driver for one team comes second, eight points are added to his season total; if his teammate finished third in the same race, he adds six to his total and the team adds fourteen (the sum of the drivers' points) to its total. The championships are awarded to whichever driver and constructor have the most points at the end of the season. In case of a tie, the FIA compares the number of times each driver has finished in each position. The championship goes to whichever had the greater number of wins; if they have the same number of wins, it goes to the driver with the greater number of second places, and so on. For example, if Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost are tied at the end of a season, and Prost had six wins and three second place finishes, but Senna had six wins and four second place finishes (even if he had fewer third places than Prost, etc.), Senna would be champion.


Race marshals, armed with a set of flags to give various messages to drivers, are positioned at numerous points around the track during every race. Flags have different meanings depending on their colour; the colours (with Pantone values as specified by the FIA) signify as follows:

Flags, whose specifications and usage are prescribed by [ Appendix H] (PDF) of the FIA's International Sporting Code, must measure at least 60 cm by 80 cm, excepting the red and chequered flags, which must measure at least 80 cm by 100 cm.


Penalties may be imposed on drivers for numerous offenses, including starting prematurely, speeding in the pitlane, causing an accident, blocking unfairly, or ignoring flags of any color. There are four types of penalty which a driver may incur for violation of on-track rules:

* The drive-through penalty requires the driver to enter the pitlane, drive through it while obeying its speed limit, and exit without stopping.
* The ten-second (or stop-go) penalty requires the driver to enter the pitlane, stop at his pit for ten seconds, and exit again. Team mechanics may not work on the driver's car at any time while the driver is serving the penalty.
* A more extreme penalty may be imposed for more severe infractions: adding ten places to the driver's grid position at the next grand prix, e.g. if he qualified in pole position he would start the race eleventh from the front.
* The most severe penalty in common use is a black flag, which may be imposed for ignoring penalties or for technical irregularities of any sort; it signifies that the driver has been disqualified from the race and his results for that race will not count toward the championship.
* If the black flag is not considered sufficient for the offense that the driver has committed, they may be banned for a number of races after the event.
* The most extreme punishment of all (used for seriously endangering the life of another driver) is to be excluded from the drivers world championship that year. Such cases may, of course, also be taken to court.

For the drive-through and stop-go penalties, a driver has three laps from the time his team hears of the penalty to enter the pits; if he does not pit within three laps, he will be black-flagged. If he incurs a penalty within the last five laps of the race, he need not pit at all; instead, twenty-five seconds will be added to his total race time.


; 1950–1951: Naturally aspirated engines of 4500 cc or supercharged engines of 1500 cc allowed. No weight limit.; 1952–1953: Formula One regulations unchanged from 1951. However, the World Championship was run to Formula Two rules; naturally aspirated engines of 2000 cc or supercharged engines of 500 cc allowed. No weight limit.; 1954–1960: Naturally aspirated engines of 2500 cc or supercharged engines of 750 cc allowed. No weight limit.:; 1957:: Aviation fuel with an octane rating of 130.; 1961–1965: Naturally aspirated engines of 1500 cc allowed. 450 kg minimum weight.; 1966–1985: Naturally aspirated engines of 3000 cc or supercharged engines of 1500 cc allowed. 500 kg minimum weight.:; 1969:: Wings were banned for the Grand Prix weekend in Monaco. By end of year fixed wings no higher than the engine allowed.:; 1970:: 530 kg minimum weight.:; 1972:: 550 kg minimum weight – maximum 12 cylinders (when?).:; 1976:: Airboxes restricted.:; 1981:: 585 kg minimum weight; sliding skirts banned.:; 1982:: Six-wheels cars banned.:; 1983:: Wing-cars banned.:; 1984:: Refueling during the race was banned. Maximum fuel tank size allowed is 220 litres during the race, chilling of fuel is permitted.:; 1985:: Fuel regulations adjusted, no more than 220 litres in the tank, chilling forbidden.; 1986: Only supercharged engines of 1500 cc allowed. Fuel restricted to 195 litres during the race.; 1987-1988: Naturally aspirated engines of 3500 cc or supercharged engines of 1500 cc allowed.:; 1987:: The FIA introduced pop-off valves (4.0 bar, 400 kPa) for supercharged engine and fuel restriction to 195 litres, 3500 cc atmospheric allowed with no fuel restriction, no refuelling during the race.:; 1988:: Turbo boost restricted to 2.5 bar (250 kPa). Fuel restricted to 150 litres during the race.; 1989–1994: 3500 cc atmospheric engines only, maximum 12 cylinders.:; 1990:: Front wing endplates restricted.:; 1993:: Maximum car width reduced to 200 cm, tyres reduced in width to 15".:; 1994:: Refuelling permitted again with the use of a standardised refuelling rig; active/reactive suspension systems banned; Electronic driver aids (traction control, launch control) banned.:: After San Marino tragedy, restrictions imposed on the front and rear wings, the size and shape of the rear diffuser, and a wooden "plank" introduced on the underside of the car to raise the ride hight; from the Canadian event forward, airboxes 'notched' to reduce power.; 1995–2005: 3000 cc atmospheric engines only.:; 1995:: The fuel used must be identical in composition to a sample (chemical fingerprint) which is submitted in advance to the racing authorities for approval.:; 1996:: 107% qualifying rule introduced.:; 1998:: Grooved tyres introduced (3 grooves front, 4 grooves rear). Track (width) of cars narrowed from 2 m to 1.8 m. Side-mounted "X-Wings" banned.:; 1999:: Front tyre grooves increased from 3 grooves to 4 grooves.:; 2000:: Engines restricted to 10 cylinders with a maximum of five valves per cylinder. [ [ Microsoft Word - 15-01-2000-WMSC.doc ] ] :; 2001:: Front wing raised to be minimum of 15 cm(?) from ground. :; 2001:: (29th April, Spanish Grand Prix): Launch and Traction control allowed again.:; 2002:: Two-way telemetry (which allows the pit crew to change the configuration of the car during the race) introduced.:; 2003:: Two-way telemetry banned. "Parc fermé" introduced. Points system changed: points awarded to the top eight finishers (10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). Team orders banned. Qualifiying system changed.:; 2004:: One-engine-per-weekend rule introduced. Replacement of an engine results in a 10 place grid penalty. Launch control banned. Minimum area of rear wing endplates and engine cover bodywork introduced to aid better value for sponsor advertisements.:; 2005:: One engine must last two race weekends. One set of tyres for both qualifying and race; replacements due to damage (must be as worn down as those already on the car); refuelling may not take place in the same pit stop as a tyre change. Front wing raised 50 mm, rear wing brought forward and reduced in size, bodywork in front of rear wheels reduced. Minimum area of rear wing endplates increased again.; 2006-2008: Atmospheric engines of 2400 cc capacity with 8 cylinders only. [ [ ITV Report on engine change agreements] ] :;2006::Tyre changing reintroduced. Qualifying changed to one hour 'knock out' system::: Qualifying consists of two 15 minute sessions, followed by one 20 minute session. 5 minute breaks between each session. Clocks are frozen after sessions 1 and 2 (any timed laps not finished before session ends will not count). The last session differs in that any timed laps started before the end of the 20 minute session will count even if time has run out after the lap was started. ::* Session 1: All 22 cars on track, unlimited laps and any fuel load permitted. Once 15 minutes are up, the slowest 6 cars are locked into their position in the order they qualified (P17–P22).::* Session 2: 16 remaining cars on track, unlimited laps and any fuel load permitted. Once 15 minutes are up, the slowest 6 cars are locked into their position in the order they qualified (P11–P16).::* Session 3: 10 remaining cars on track, unlimited laps. Drivers must start session with intended fuel load for the next day's race. Any fuel burned for the session is replenished by the FIA once the session is over (based on number of laps completed). This tokk on the nickname of "Tiger Tokens". Drivers from P11–P22 may start race on any fuel load they wish.:: As of Race 11 (French Grand Prix 14th - 16th July) the clocks are kept running at the end of sessions 1 and 2 and drivers are permitted to complete their lap. The 3rd session is reduced to 15 minutes.:; 2007:: Single tyre supplier (merely coincidental in 2007, but will be a rule in 2008). Drivers must use at least one set of each of the two specifications of dry tyres during the race, unless wet tyres have been used. The softer of the available tyres is visibly marked (initially this was just a white spot on the sidewall, but from round 2 onwards it became a white stripe in the groove to aid visibility). Red, yellow and blue cockpit lights fitted to indicate track conditions to drivers. On board cameras are red for primary driver, yellow for second driver. Engines are homologated - development is not permitted since the end of the 2006 season. 19,000 rpm rev limit. New safety car rules prevent immediate pitting, and allow lapped cars to overtake and rejoin the back of the queue. [ [ F1 Regulations - Formula 1 Rules and Regulations for the 2007 Formula 1 Season ] ] :;2008:: Bridgestone will be the official tyre supplier for the 2008-2010 seasons under an FIA contract, although for 2008 the tyres themselves will be identical in specification to those supplied for the 2007 season. [cite news | first = | last = | author = | coauthors =| url = | title =Bridgestone wins tyre deal | work = | publisher | pages = | page = | date =2006-07-06 | accessdate = | language = ] A standard Electronic Control Unit (ECU) supplied by McLaren Electronic Systems (badged as Microsoft) is mandated; [ [ F1 | Formula 1 - Bridgestone wins tyre deal - ITV Sport ] ] as a result, traction control will be banned. [ [ F1 | Formula 1 - Traction control banned from 2008 - ITV Sport ] ] Long life gearboxes are required to be used for four consecutive Events, with a five grid position penalty for any substitution (although gear ratios may be changed once per Event to suit each circuit). Engines continue to be those which were homologated for the start of the 2007 season with a required life of two consecutive Events and a 19,000 rpm rev limit. Cars now must start the race carrying the amount of fuel with which they finished the qualifying session (in previous years teams could top up fuel according to an agreed formula).


* cite web
title=FIA International Sporting Code & Appendices, 2006
publisher=Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile
accessdaymonth=20 December

* cite web
title=FIA Formula One World Championship Regulations, 2006
publisher=Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile
accessdaymonth=20 December

* cite web
title=2008 Formula One Technical Regulations
publisher=Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile
accessdaymonth=21 December

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