Fans of F1 will have noticed the many acronyms used to describe the state of the race, whether it be before the cars have lined up on the grid, or after the race has finished. This may leave newer fans wondering what exactly they mean and how they affect a race.
DNS, DNF, DNQ and DSQ in F1:
- DNS stands for Did Not Start
- DNF stands for Did Not Finish
- DNQ stands for Did Not Qualify
- DSQ stands for Disqualified
DNS, DNF, DNQ and DSQ are all incredibly important in Formula 1 as they decide not only who is eligible to start the race, but also who is deemed to be “classified” and therefore eligible to collect their points towards the Drivers’ Championship come the end of the race.
There are multiple reasons a driver will end up not finishing or race, and on some occasions not even starting it, from mechanical reasons to a driver’s conduct on the track. In this article we will discuss the meanings of all these acronyms, as well as Hans Heyer’s infamous F1 race.
What Does DNS Mean In F1?
DNS in F1 means “Did Not Start.” The main cause of a DNS is mechanical issues involving the car pre-race. This could be from issues caused in the previous day’s qualifying sessions. It is an incredibly frustrating occurrence for drivers as it wipes out all the hard work and preparation they put in.
In 2021 Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was an unfortunate victim of a DNS after mechanical issues with his car left him unable to race at his home Grand Prix in Monaco. It was especially difficult for him to take as he had secured pole position in the race and hadn’t previously managed to reach the finishing line at a Monaco Grand Prix.
Another example of a DNS was Yuki Tsunoda’s failure to start at the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to a drivetrain issue. Tsunoda’s car had lost power leaving him unable to set a qualifying lap time. Mick Schumacher also failed to start the race after being pulled out of the starting grid by his team after a heavy crash during qualifying, meaning only 18 drivers took part in the race.
What Does DNF Mean In F1?
DNF in F1 stands for “Did Not Finish.” This is a very common sight in Formula 1, mainly because of the fragility of the cars, meaning that if a driver hits a wall or makes heavy contact with another driver, there is very little chance that they will be able to finish the race.
While damage to the car may be the main reason for DNFs, they can also be caused by mechanical issues such as engine failure or electrical issues. Some of these damage related issues or mechanical errors could well be sorted out in the pits, but in many cases the driver won’t be able to make it that far because of the damage that their car has sustained.
Over the years, F1 has seen various freak incidents that cause drivers to not be able to finish a race. At the 2007 French Grand Prix at Magny Cours, Spyker driver Christijan Albers rushed out of the pits too early, taking the fuel hose with him. By the time Albers had realized his mistake, it was too late, and he was forced to retire early from the race.
The Finer Details Of A DNF
It would be fair to assume that anyone who doesn’t finish the race would be classified as a DNF. However, this is not the case for F1. If a driver manages to complete at least 90% of the race they will be considered to have finished it, even if they retire with 10% of the race left. The same rule applies to back markers who may be a multiple laps behind those out in front.
If you have been lapped, you will still finish the race at the same time as everyone else, even if you are yet to complete the race fully. They will still be classified as having finished the race, but if they finished two laps behind for example, they would have a +2 next to their finishing time on the leaderboard.
DNFs On The Leaderboard
If a driver has failed to complete 90% of the race, they will be sent to the bottom of the race leaderboard. If there have been multiple DNFs, the drivers will be ranked on how long they were in the race before bowing out. If a driver crashes on the 30th lap, they will be ranked above someone who crashed on the 15th lap.
As far as points scoring goes, only drivers that are considered “classified” will be able to earn points. To be classified the driver must have completed 90% of the race, meaning that if a driver runs out of fuel before the finish line, depending on how the rest of the field has gone, they can still be in the mix for a podium finish, although this is very unlikely.
What Does DNQ Mean In F1?
DNQ in F1 means “Did Not Qualify.” This means that the driver was knocked out during qualification. This is a knockout system that normally takes place on the Saturday of race weekend, and if drivers fail to set a fast enough time, they will not qualify for the race on Sunday.
There are three stages to F1 qualification, named Q1, Q2 and Q3. Q1 involves all 20 cars, with the slowest five being eliminated. Q2 then knocks out the next five slowest drivers, with Q3 giving drivers 12 minutes to set their fastest qualifying time, deciding the final grid order.
It was this qualifying system that led to the reintroduction of the 107% rule, a rule which means that every driver must set a lap time within 107% of the time of the fastest driver. Should a driver fail to do this, they will be at risk of a DNQ.
Lance Stroll and Brendon Hartley both failed to set 107% times at the 2018 British Grand Prix but were allowed to race because of their satisfactory lap times in the Friday practice session. Wet sessions are exempt from the 107% rule because of their unpredictability.
What Does DSQ Mean In F1?
DSQ in F1 means the driver was disqualified. A driver can be disqualified for several reasons, with the most common being when they are judged to have driven dangerously. Drivers can also be disqualified if they finish the race without enough fuel in their tank. DSQ is rarely seen in modern F1.
Disqualification has different implications on drivers, depending on when it was during the race weekend that they were disqualified. If a driver is disqualified, they will still be able to take part in the race on the Sunday, albeit from the very back of the field.
An example of this was when Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2021, for an irregularity on his car’s rear wing. This meant that he started the race from the back of the field for the sprint race, despite qualifying in pole.
If a driver is disqualified during a race, they will be shown a black flag and be forced to return to the pits as soon as possible. This means that their racing is over for the weekend, and they will be unable to earn any points. Black flags are a rare sight in F1, with the last being waved in 2007 after Massa and Fisichella left the pit lane when the red lights were still showing.
One of the more unbelievable sightings of a black flag was during the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix, when British driver Al Pease was disqualified for being too slow, and a danger to other drivers. At the time the flag was raised, he had completed 22 laps compared to the other drivers’ 46.
What Does NC Mean In F1?
NC in F1 means “Not Classified” and is handed out to those who fail to complete at least 90% of the race. Those who are deemed as NC will be unable to earn any points for that race weekend. It is very uncommon for a race to finish with a full set of classified drivers.
There have currently only been seven races in Formula 1 history that have finished without any DNFs, with the most recent being the Austrian Grand Prix in 2019, where Max Verstappen ended up the victor.
One of these races was the 2005 United States Grand Prix, where there were only 6 cars starting on the grid. This was due to a string of incidents involving the failure of Michelin tires that had taken place around that time. The remaining six cars were all using Bridgestone tires for the race. This damaged the relationship between F1 and the USA for quite some time.
In 2013, the McLaren team became the first team in F1 history to finish a season having both drivers finish every race as classified.
The Story Of Hans Heyer’s DNQ, DNF And DSQ
Hans Heyer was a racing driver born in 1943. Heyer began his racing journey in the Netherlands as he was too young to race in his home country of Germany. After a successful karting career, Heyer moved into the world of touring cars, becoming European champion in 1974, and German Champion in both the 1975 and 1976 season. Heyer became a favorite among German racing fans.
However, Heyer isn’t remembered for his exciting and successful touring car stint, but instead for the fact he is the only Formula 1 driver in history to be credited with a DNQ, a DNF and a DSQ, all in the same race.
Heyer’s most infamous moment came at the German Grand Prix in 1977, where he would be a stand-in driver for the Penske-Ford Cosworth team. The Penske car was slow compared to its competition, and Heyer could only manage the fourth slowest lap time in qualifying. Qualifying was different back in ’77, with the only the top 24 fastest drivers out of 30 qualifying for Sunday’s race.
So, it would be a DNQ and a race-free Sunday for Heyer, or so everyone thought. A crash before the first corner between Clay Regazzoni and Alan Jones left marshals and fans distracted. While everyone had their back turned, Hans Heyer, in full racing attire, climbed into his car and headed for the track.
Heyer had the bonus of knowing a lot of the marshals at the Hockenheim circuit very well, and when he ventured out onto the track, they supposedly didn’t notice, but that excuse does seem a little far-fetched. It was on lap 10 where Heyer’s F1 dream came to an end, with gearbox issues forcing an early retirement, granting him his first (and last) F1 DNF.
It was only upon reentry into the pits that race officials clocked that he had been out there for a solid nine laps, causing the German crowd to erupt into cheers every time he passed. He was subsequently disqualified from the race.
This meant he would become the first, and most likely the last driver to be credited with a DNQ, DNF and a DSQ all in the same race. Heyer unsurprisingly never raced in a Formula 1 car again and bowed out of the sport with just the one, infamous F1 race to his name.
DNS, DNF, DNQ and DSQ each describe a classification of a driver’s race classification in an F1 race. They have a huge bearing on how the race shapes up as they determine who is eligible to race, and who is deemed classified and therefore able to collect points at the end of the race.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.