Formula 1 is an extremely competitive sport with fine margins. Oftentimes the drivers are separated by a few tenths of a second. We have even seen situations where cars finish side by side, or end up with the same lap times in qualifying, but can F1 actually end in a draw?
There can’t be a draw in Formula 1. Systems are put in place to ensure that a winner will be decided, whether it is in qualifying, a race, or even in the championship. If F1 drivers are tied on points, there is a countback of who has the most race wins and then second places and so on.
The FIA has a set of rules that ensures that drivers cannot finish the season tied. There is therefore no possibility of sharing the driver’s world championship trophy. Furthermore, there is no way for two drivers to win a race or get pole position either, but let’s take a closer look.
Can The F1 Championship Have Joint Winners?
There can only be one driver’s world champion in Formula 1. There have been scenarios in the past in other racing series where drivers had finished a season equal on points. It almost happened in 2021, as both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton headed into the final race on equal points.
In a scenario where two drivers finish the season equal on points, the winner will be declared as the driver who has the most wins during the season. For example, if Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were to finish equal on points in 2021, Max Verstappen would have taken the title because he had won 10 races compared to Lewis Hamilton’s 8 (before the Abu Dhabi GP).
However, the rules go even further than that. Should two drivers be equal on points and have an equal number of wins at the end of the season, the number of second place finishes will be counted. If they are still equal, the number of third place finishes will be counted. It will go all the way down until a winner has been declared.
Every Race Is Important
Essentially, the world championship could hang on to one driver having a fourth-place finish when the other doesn’t. This is another reason why each race is so crucial. Not only do the points from each race make a difference, but in a tight season, the positions could also make the difference.
However, the question is what if, after all of that, the drivers are still tied? The F1 rulebook states “If this fails to produce a result, the FIA will nominate the winner according to such criteria as it thinks fit.”
The truth is that no one really knows how the FIA would handle such a situation. The only other elements that could separate the drivers at that point are fastest laps and pole positions. However, the chances of a season being so close that even just the number of wins can’t separate the top two are very small. One thing that is for sure is that it would be an incredibly exciting season to watch!
Has There Ever Been A Tie In F1?
There has never been a tie in a Formula 1 World Championship. While there have been many occasions where two drivers have been tied during the course of a season, there has always been a winner after the final race.
Can An F1 Race End In A Tie?
A Formula 1 race cannot end in a tie. It is nearly impossible for two cars to finish at the exact same time. The timing systems on Formula 1 cars are extremely accurate, and if two cars were to be separated by so much as 0.001 of a second it will be picked up on the system.
However, if there were to be a scenario where two cars cross the finish line at the exact same time and can’t be separated by the timing screens, the driver with the fastest lap time will be given the race win.
The closest that a Formula 1 race has ever been to a tie was the 1971 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, when Peter Gethin managed to win by just 0.01 seconds over Ronnie Peterson. Another close call was the famous Ferrari formation finish at the 2002 United States Grand Prix when Rubens Barrichello won by just 0.011 seconds over teammate Michael Schumacher.
The 10 Closest Finishes In F1
The 10 closest finishes in F1 are:
- 1971 Italian GP – Peter Gethin vs Ronnie Peterson (0.01 seconds)
- 2002 United States GP – Rubens Barrichello vs Michael Schumacher (0.011 seconds)
- 1986 Spanish GP – Ayrton Senna vs Nigel Mansell (0.014 seconds)
- 1982 Austrian GP – Elio de Angelis vs Keke Rosberg (0.05)
- 1969 Italian GP – Jackie Stewart vs Jochen Rindt (0.08 seconds)
- 1961 French GP – Giancarlo Baghetti vs Dan Gurney (0.1 seconds)
- 1954 French GP – Juan Manuel Fangio vs Karl Kling (0.1 seconds)
- 2000 Canadian GP – Michael Schumacher vs Rubens Barrichello (0.174 seconds)
- 2002 Austrian GP – Michael Schumacher vs Rubens Barrichello (0.182 seconds)
- 1967 Italian GP – John Surtees vs Jack Brabham (0.2 seconds)
Despite all of these extremely close finishes, Formula 1 has never had two cars finish at the exact same time. The timing system can separate cars by millimetres and is extremely accurate, so there will always be one car that is slightly ahead of the other.
What Happens If 2 Drivers Get Pole Position In F1?
Formula 1 is an extremely competitive sport, and it’s not uncommon for two cars to set the exact same lap time. This is more common around shorter tracks such as the Red Bull Ring in Austria or in Monaco.
Drivers can sometimes set identical lap times in practice or qualifying. While it is rare, we have seen it happen a couple of times in the past few years, so it’s not impossible. The only time there has been a tie in qualifying was actually a three-way tie in 1997, when Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen all recorded a time of 1:21.072.
However, Villeneuve took pole position, Schumacher started second and Frentzen started third. This is because, in qualifying, drivers are separated by whoever set the lap first. So, if two drivers or more were to have identical lap times for pole position, the driver that finished their lap first will be the one that is awarded with pole position.
There cannot be a tie in an F1 season, as there is a countback of race wins, second places and so on to decide who wins. If there is a tie in a race, the driver who set the fastest lap wins. If two drivers set the same time in qualifying, the driver that finished their lap first starts first.