Formula 1 is one of the most competitive sports in the world. In order to determine which team and driver wins the coveted Formula 1 World Championship, a fairly simple points system is used. But aside from earning points, many fans might wonder if F1 teams and drivers can have points deducted too.
F1 points can be deducted from both teams and drivers if the FIA deems it suitable. While we have never seen a driver have points deducted, we have seen teams lose points, and we have seen multiple cases of drivers being disqualified from races and even the world championship.
Over the years, the F1 points system has been subject to many changes. However, with the current system in place, it’s fairly straightforward. We outline this points system below, before considering in more detail the circumstances under which F1 teams and drivers can have points deducted.
How Do Teams And Drivers Earn Points In F1?
The Formula 1 World Championship is ultimately decided based on which driver has earned the most points. Earning points, aside from winning races of course, is what motivates F1 drivers and teams to perform at their best all season long. The points system is extremely important as it is used to decide which team and driver wins the championship at the end of the season.
The Current F1 Points System
The current points system allows teams and drivers to earn point based on where they finish in each race. Drivers receive 25 points for a win, 18 points for a second place finish, and 15 points for a third place finish. The top three drivers take part in the podium celebrations.
The rest of the top 10 drivers in each race also score points, with the points being awarded as follows: 4th place earns 12 points, 5th place earns 10 points, 6th place earns 8 points, 7th place earns 6 points, 8th place earns 4 points, 9th place earns 2 points, and 10th place earns 1 point. If a driver finishes in the top 10, they can also get an extra point for having the fastest lap.
There is a big difference in points between finishing 8th and finishing 5th, which is why it’s so important for drivers and teams to try and finish the race as high as possible, even if they can’t get on the podium. A single position change can affect the number of points you get in a race and therefore your final result at the end of the season.
How Do F1 Teams Receive Points?
Points aren’t just handed out to the drivers for the drivers’ world championship. Formula 1 is very much a team sport, and therefore the teams also score points in a separate championship, which is known as the constructors’ championship. The constructors’ championship is where the prize money lies at the end of the season, so it’s very important for all of the teams.
Each team receives the combination of points that their drivers scored during a Grand Prix. For example, if one driver wins a Grand Prix, receiving 25 points, with their teammate finishing third, earning himself 15 points, the team earns 40 points for that specific race, which is added to the team’s total in the constructors’ championship.
Points In Sprint Races
Sprint races were introduced into Formula 1 in 2021, and they were fairly controversial. While many fans found them to be entertaining, others found them to be somewhat boring. Plus, it puts added pressure on teams that are already dealing with a budget cap, and more running time on the same number of engines puts more strain on the reliability of the cars.
However, regardless of how sprint races are viewed, the FIA added some extra incentive for drivers (and teams) in the sprint race. The top three drivers in the sprint race would all earn world championship points for both themselves and their teams.
Finishing first would earn a driver pole position for Sunday’s race and an extra three points. Finishing in second would give a driver two points, and finishing third in the sprint race would give a driver one point. It might not seem like much, but in a close title fight these points can make a huge difference.
However, for the 2022 season, the sprint race point system was expanded. The top 8 drivers in a sprint race now earn points, with first place getting 8 all the way down to eighth place receiving one point.
What Motivates F1 Teams To Perform Well?
Realistically, not all F1 teams have a chance of winning the constructors’ championship, and most of the drivers don’t have a shot at the WDC either. So, what would motivate a team towards the back of the grid to continue improving their car and beat the other teams around them if the title is out of reach?
A simple monetary solution has been put in place to ensure that all teams have something to fight for, whether it’s first place or second place, fifth place or tenth place. Each team in the championship wins prize money based on where they finish in the constructors’ championship.
This is why any world championship points are crucial for Formula 1 teams, especially those at the back. Williams, for example, finished last in both 2019 and 2020. In 2020, just 4 points would have lifted them off the bottom. In 2021, they scored 23 points, less than one race win’s worth, but this put them in 8th place.
The difference in prize money between each position in the constructors’ championship is measured in the millions of dollars, so at the back of the grid, every single point counts. But the same is true at the front, where the competition is fierce for the top spot – and even more money.
Having points deducted would have serious financial consequences for teams in the following season. Earning more prize money allows the teams to develop their cars to perform better in the upcoming season. With less money, there’s usually less valuable development, so every point counts!
Can F1 Teams Have Points Deducted?
F1 teams can have points deducted from their overall points tally in the constructors’ championship. The reasons for this vary, and it only happens rarely, but in most cases, it is related to cheating or exploiting loopholes in the rules.
2020 Racing Point Incident
The 2020 season saw Racing Point, now Aston Martin, have points deducted. This came down to a breach in the sporting regulations related to the design of their car. Several fans and Formula 1 teams claimed that the RP20 had identical brake ducts to the 2019 championship winning Mercedes. As such, the car was given the nickname of “Pink Mercedes” by many in the Formula 1 community.
In August 2020, the FIA found Racing Point guilty of copying Mercedes’ rear brake ducts and punished the team with a €400,000 (about $450,000) fine and a deduction of 15 points. However, Racing Point remained determined that they had not copied Mercedes even after their punishment. The drivers were not punished for this incident, and their points tallies, and wallets, remained untouched.
The implications of the 15 point deduction were worth more than the $450,000 fine. Racing Point finished the season in fourth place with 195 points, just 7 points behind McLaren. There is no doubt that the 15 points they lost were worth millions of dollars come the end of the season!
Spygate In 2007
Aside from points deductions, F1 teams may also be excluded from the championship entirely. We saw this happen to McLaren in 2007 in what was possibly the biggest Formula 1 scandal of the decade. McLaren were fined $100 million and disqualified from the constructors’ championship due to espionage allegations, with information from Ferrari having fallen into McLaren’s hands.
Can F1 Drivers Have Points Deducted?
F1 drivers can have points deducted should the FIA deem it necessary. However, there don’t seem to be any documented cases of this happening in F1. Drivers have been disqualified from races and championships in the past, but there are no instances of point deductions.
Just before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the FIA sent out a warning to the title contenders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had already collided multiple times in the same season. The drivers were told that points can be deducted from their total due to unethical or reckless driving, but this fortunately did not happen.
F1 points can be deducted from a team or driver should the FIA feel the need to do so. It’s rare for this to happen, but we have seen it in the past. We have also seen teams and drivers being excluded from the world championship standings entirely, but this is very rare.