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Can F1 Drivers Do Donuts? Are They Allowed?

In popular forms of motorsport in the US, such as NASCAR, it’s common to see the drivers doing donuts and burnouts after winning a race. In Formula 1 though, you don’t see it as often, especially not in the middle of the season. This can leave fans wondering if F1 drivers are allowed to do donuts.

F1 drivers are allowed to do donuts after the race, however they often don’t as it puts too much stress on the components that they need for the rest of the season. We often see drivers doing donuts at the end of the last Grand Prix of the season as they do not need to use the car again.

The strict cost cutting rules that have been put in place make it extremely unfavorable for drivers to do donuts after a race win unless it is at the end of the season. Below, we discuss in more detail why F1 drivers rarely do donuts.

Why Don’t F1 Drivers Do Donuts After A Race Win?

F1 drivers don’t do donuts after a race win because doing donuts puts unnecessary strain on the car. In a cost cap environment, and when there are limits on how many of each component a driver can use during a season, it’s simply unwise to put the car under any unnecessary stress with donuts.

The average Formula 1 calendar has around 20 races per season. However, we only see Formula 1 drivers doing donuts in one of these races – the very last one. Even when Pierre Gasly celebrated his first ever win following an incredible performance in an Alpha Tauri at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix he did not celebrate with donuts.

Compared to other forms of motorsport this seems quite strange, and you might be wondering why the drivers do not celebrate their race victories with donuts like many other racing rivers do. However, there are some very good reasons as to why the drivers will only usually do donuts after the final race of the season.

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, and these are some of the most expensive cars in the world. Costing millions of dollars, it can be incredibly expensive to damage these cars while doing donuts after a race. The cars simply are not designed for their rear wheels to be spinning excessively with lots of revs.

The components on the car are extremely sensitive and can easily be damaged when doing donuts. This might not have been much of a problem in the 1990s, when teams could swap out almost any component as often as they could afford. But in modern Formula 1 the components have to last much longer, and teams cannot always just replace them when they are worn out.

Lifespan Of The Engine

The first concern that the teams have is the lifespan of the engine. When a car is doing donuts and the wheels are spinning, the engine is constantly on the rev limit. This causes the engine to work harder, and it begins to heat up quickly. Since the car is not moving there is no air going into the inlets to cool it down either.

When the engine begins to overheat and does not get the chance to cool down, the components inside the engine begin to expand and change shape due to the extreme heat buildup inside the engine. These changes in shape and size are permanent, and the components won’t go back to their standard state.

Even when the engine cools down again the components in the engine remain somewhat “out of shape”. In the long term this can cause severe damage to the engine, and it will also cause the engine to lose performance, which means it will need to be replaced sooner rather than later in order for the car to remain competitive for the rest of the season.

Each F1 driver is only allowed to use 3 engines per season as well, so engine lifespan is more important than it was in the past. If the driver uses more than three engines, they will have to start taking engine penalties. This means that over the long-term, doing donuts after a race is simply not worth it.

Reliability Of The Engine

When the engine is overheating while doing donuts the components inside the engine are affected. However, this not only has a detrimental impact on the lifespan of the engine, but also the reliability of the engine, which could influence the following races that the team needs to compete in.

When the components change shape and expand inside the engine due to overheating, they will remain that way and won’t fully change back to their normal shape. This means that when the engine runs again at the next start up, these components are essentially grinding against one another and causing even further damage.

Eventually this will cause parts inside the engine to fail. If one of these failures happens at the wrong time, it would be a disaster for the team. An engine failure could happen while the car is leading the race or is on course for a crucial podium finish. Rather than scoring valuable points in the championship they will end up with zero points.

It also means that the team will be left with one fewer engine to complete the season with, and thus will likely need to take a grid penalty at some point in the future in order to get a new engine in the car to finish the rest of the season with.

Gearbox Damage

One of the components that is most affected by donuts is the gearbox. Just like the engines, Formula 1 teams have to ensure that their gearboxes last a specific amount of time as well. A Formula 1 gearbox must last at least six Grands Prix weekends, and teams are limited to just three of each of some of the main gearbox components (some are limited to four).

Depending on how the driver delivers the power to the wheels, the gearbox can take a massive amount of strain when the car is doing burnouts or donuts. If the gearbox is damaged and needs to be replaced too early, then the driver will have to take a five-place grid penalty at the next event.

The gearbox on a Formula 1 car already takes a lot of strain just by doing laps around a circuit, so putting it under further strain by essentially drifting round in circles is not a good idea. A gearbox replacement will make the driver’s life more difficult in the next race, starting further back on the grid.

Why Do F1 Drivers Do Donuts At The End Of The Season?

The only time we are likely to see Formula 1 drivers doing donuts is at the end of the season. This is because the car will be retired at the end of the season and won’t be used again, so it doesn’t matter (as much) if the components on the car break while the driver is doing donuts.

The only exception to this is if the driver wins the championship before the last race of the season. We often see drivers celebrating by doing donuts in their car, and this is because they can afford to take grid penalties if parts need to be replaced. After all, they have already won the world championship.

At the final race of the season, it’s not uncommon for a bunch of drivers, including any that are retiring at the end of the year, to do donuts after the final race, even if they have not won the race or the championship. This is simply because it is a crowd pleaser and the spectators enjoy watching a Formula 1 car doing donuts.

But teams still are rarely keen on drivers doing donuts at all. After all, even if the car doesn’t have to race the following week, the mechanics do still need to deal with any damage to the car. As cars are often used at some point in the future for the young driver tests, they’d prefer to have minimal repair work to do anyway!

Can Donuts Damage The Car?

Donuts can cause a severe amount of damage to the car, especially if they are not done correctly. The driver must be careful on the throttle, and they must also carefully balance the clutch bite point to control the power.

However, even if the driver is careful when doing donuts, they can still be damaging to the car. While doing donuts the engine will constantly be close to the rev limiter, which may cause the engine to overheat when the driver is doing donuts for too long, especially after it has just been running for a full race.

At the end of the day, these cars are built for performance. The parts are high quality, but they are not exactly durable. The cars were not designed to do donuts, but instead they were designed to go around a racetrack as fast as possible!

Can F1 Drivers Do Burnouts After A Win?

Formula 1 drivers are allowed to do donuts after a win. We see it happen most often at the last race of the season. This is when the cars won’t be used again and there is much less risk involved in “breaking” the car in order to do donuts and entertain the crowd.

We have also seen drivers doing donuts after winning their home race as well. Silverstone has great run off areas and British drivers love to use these areas to celebrate their victory with some donuts and entertain their home crowd at the same time.

There are risks to doing this though, and in the majority of cases the driver will need to get approval from their team if they want to celebrate their victory with donuts. Some teams are more lenient with it, but others are strictly against their drivers doing donuts midway through the season.

Rules About Doing Donuts After The Race

Technically there are no rules against the drivers doing donuts in their cars after the race. Many people believe that the FIA are extremely strict on donuts and do not allow the drivers to do donuts after the race is over.

However, the FIA rules state that the drivers are allowed to ‘perform an act of celebration’ as long as it is done in a safe manner. The drivers cannot endanger the lives of other drivers, marshals, or fans on or around the track.

The other rule that drivers need to adhere to is that their car must return to pit lane under its own power, and it cannot be left on the circuit. Sebastian Vettel broke this rule at the 2013 Indian Grand Prix after winning his fourth world championship.

Vettel drove his Red Bull back to the main straight and did some donuts in front of the crowd. He then got out of the car to further celebrate his victory and world championship. However, his car was left on the circuit. Vettel was fined and reprimanded for breaching the rules.

Final Thoughts

Formula 1 drivers are allowed to do donuts after a race. However, it is rare for us to see this during the season. The cars are not designed to do donuts, and they can do a lot of damage to the car, which is very undesirable when teams must deal with budget caps and component limits.