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F1 Rules and Championships


For much of the sport's history, qualifying sessions differed little from practice sessions; drivers would have one or more entire sessions in which to attempt to set their fastest time, sometimes within a limited number of attempts, with the grid order determined by each driver's best single lap, fastest (on pole position) to slowest. Grids were limited to the fastest 26 cars, and in some seasons drivers had to lap within 107% of the pole sitter's time to qualify for the race; the 107% rule was re-introduced in 2011. Other formats have included Friday pre-qualifying, and sessions in which each driver was allowed only one qualifying lap, run separately in a predetermined order.

The race begins with a warm-up lap, after which the cars assemble on the starting grid in the order they qualified. This lap is often referred to as the formation lap, as the cars lap in formation with no overtaking (although a driver who makes a mistake may regain lost ground provided he has not fallen to the back of the field). The warm-up lap allows drivers to check the condition of the track and their car, gives the tyres a chance to warm up, and to increase traction, and also gives the pit crews time to clear themselves and their equipment from the grid.

Once all the cars have formed on the grid, a light system above the track indicates the start of the race: five red lights are illuminated at intervals of one second; they are all then extinguished simultaneously after an unspecified time (typically less than 3 seconds) to signal the start of the race. The start procedure may be abandoned if a driver stalls on the grid, signalled by raising his arm. If this happens the procedure restarts: a new formation lap begins with the offending car removed from the grid. The race may also be restarted in the event of a serious accident or dangerous conditions, with the original start voided. The race may be started from behind the Safety Car if officials feel a racing start would be excessively dangerous, such as extremely heavy rainfall. There is no formation lap when races start behind the Safety Car.

Under normal circumstances the winner of the race is the first driver to cross the finish line having completed a set number of laps, which added together should give a distance of approximately 305 km (190 mi) (260 km (160 mi) for Monaco). Race officials may end the race early (putting out a red flag) due to unsafe conditions such as extreme rainfall, and it must finish within two hours, although races are only likely to last this long in the case of extreme weather.

Throughout the race drivers may make pit stops to change tyres and repair damage (from 1994 to 2009 inclusive they could also refuel).

Various systems for awarding championship points have been used since 1950. As of 2010, the top ten cars are awarded points, the winner receiving 25 points. The total number of points won at each race are added up, and the driver and constructor with the most points at the end of the season are World Champions. If both a team's cars finish in the points, they both receive Constructors Championship points. Nevertheless, the Drivers and Constructors Championships often have different results.

To receive points, a driver must be classified. Strictly speaking, in order to be classified, a driver need not finish the race, but complete at least 90% of the winner's race distance. Therefore, it is possible for a driver to receive some points even if he retired before the end of the race.



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