Formula 1 is one of the most popular spectator sports on the planet, with 20 elite drivers battling it out at over 200 mph for the chance to be crowned that season’s world champion. But many fans may wonder just how the F1 points system works.
The F1 points system awards the first 10 cars across the finish line with points ranging from 25 points for first place, down to one point for finishing tenth. Over a season these points are accumulated and the driver with the most points wins the World Drivers’ Championship (WDC).
Over the years, F1 has undergone drastic changes, especially regarding points allocation, and it can be a little confusing. In the article below, we’ll discuss how the F1 points system works, the history of the points system, and the ways points are awarded for different races.
Points are awarded to F1 drivers that finish between first and tenth in a race, with positions 11 to 20 receiving zero points. There is also an extra point up for grabs to the driver and team that records the fastest lap in a race, provided they finish in one of the top ten positions.
Two sets of points are used in F1. There are points allocated to drivers depending on their finishing position in each race, and there are points for constructors (the owners, manufacturers, or businesses that own and run the team), which is determined through the points scored by the drivers of a particular constructor’s vehicles.
Each constructor has two F1 cars, and the points scored by the two vehicles combined are allocated to the constructor. At the end of an F1 season, the total points accrued by both of their vehicles over all of the races are tallied for the World Constructors’ Championship (WCC).
How Points Are Awarded
Assuming a race is completed, the points system used for each race remains the same. There are alterations to the points awarded if races are not completed due to adverse weather, or in the case of driver accidents that are deemed too serious to allow a race to continue.
Formula 1 points are awarded in the following order, from 1st position down to 10th place:
- 25 points
- 18 points
- 15 points
- 12 points
- 10 points
- 8 points
- 6 points
- 4 points
- 2 points
- 1 point
Winning The Championship
The driver that records the fastest lap in the race and finishes in the top 10 also accrues an extra point towards both his own season’s point tally and the tally of his constructor as well. The points accumulate over the season and the driver with the most points is crowned world champion.
In the unlikely event of a tie in F1, where two drivers finish an F1 season with the same points total, the driver with the most wins is awarded the championship. If the two drivers have the same number of wins, then the criterion for winning becomes the most second place finishes, then third place finishes, and so on until a winner is crowned.
Before 1991, the F1 points system was complex, with a driver’s points being based on their best results from a set number of races from the first half of the season. Then there was another set of races in the second half, which would be collated to discover where a driver’s final position would be.
F1 has had some of the greatest race car drivers the world has ever known, yet many of them don’t show up on any lists of drivers with the most points in F1. Drivers like Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, while being true masters of their craft, simply don’t have the points tally of modern drivers.
This is because F1 overhauled its points system numerous times in the past, for reasons ranging from increasing spectator interest by boosting the points system, to changing entirely how a championship was run. There were many changes until 1991.
From 1991 onwards, points were allocated based on a race-by-race result for the entire season. This was very similar to today’s F1 point system, although the number of points scored for a win was much lower than the 25 points a driver scores for a first-place finish today.
From 1991 to 2002, only the first six cars to finish would score any points: 10 points for a win, six for second place, four for third, three for fourth, two for fifth, and one point for sixth. No additional points were awarded for the fastest lap during this era of F1 where some of the greatest drivers in modern F1 made their names.
From 2003 to 2009, the points system slowly began to evolve yet again. The general format remained the same, where points from every race were vital for each driver and constructor, butto reinvigorate the sport, eight places now scored points instead of six.
For a win, the points remained at 10, second place received eight, third place scored six, fourth place scored five, fifth place received four, sixth place had three points, seventh place scored two points, and finally, one point was allocated for eighth place.
By then, the modern F1 points system had almost taken form. The competition was fierce, and extra places meant drivers would still try to push themselves and their machines to the very limit, as points were up for grabs further down the field.
After 2009, the points system as we know it today was put into place, although from 2019 onwards the additional point for the fastest lap was introduced for any driver finishing within the top ten in a race. The increase in points awarded, coupled with the extra places available to score points from, all pushed F1 towards being more competitive across the grid.
The top 8 finishers of an F1 Sprint race receive points towards their season’s tally. Drivers are awarded 8 points for first place, 7 points for second, 6 points for third, 5 for fourth, 4 for fifth, 3 points for sixth, 2 for seventh, and 1 point for eighth. Previously, only the top 3 scored points.
F1 Sprint races are a new addition to the racing calendar. In the 2021 season, three races were selected to test the new format, and for 2022 there are three races selected for Sprint races once again: one in Italy, one in Austria, and one at the Sao Paolo Grand Prix in Brazil.
Sprint races were introduced to spice up the qualifying sessions for F1, to increase interest, bring in new fans, and increase spectator numbers before the race on Sunday. A 100km dash that will last around 25-30 minutes, Sprint races see who gets the pole position for that weekend’s Grand Prix.
How Sprint Races Work
The Friday qualifying race determines the grid positions for the Sprint race, which is run the following day. This extra day of racing, in whatever guise, is an extra day of competition that organizers hope will boost interest from TV sponsors and fans alike.
The finishing position of each driver in the Sprint race on Saturday determines their final grid position for the F1 Grand Prix on Sunday. Because of this, the sprint is a vital part of a driver’s weekend. A high finish in the Sprint gives drivers a better chance to win on Sunday.
The Future Of Sprint Races
With another season of Sprint races confirmed, there are three more opportunities for drivers to collect vital extra points. There had been talks of increasing the Sprint races from three to a potential six for the 2022 season, although this has now been shelved due to constructors balking at the additional costs they incur for the extra racing.
At times, it’s inevitable that races must be cut short for anything from particularly bad weather to a big accident during a race. This leads to a different type of scoring system, depending on how many laps of the race have been completed.
From 1980 until the end of the 2021 F1 season, the points system for an incomplete race was straightforward. The points awarded would be split into three sections:
- For a race that has had less than two full laps, zero points were awarded to any driver.
- In any race that had more than two laps completed but had less than 75% of the remaining laps completed, half the points were awarded. A driver finishing second in a race that was 60% complete would be awarded nine points rather than 18, for example, and so half points were also an inevitable consequence.
- For a race that ran for at least 75% of its length but had to be cut short, full points were awarded to each driver finishing in the top ten.
For the 2022 F1 season and beyond, the points system for shortened races became a little more confusing. There are now five different scenarios where points are awarded or not, and the number of drivers awarded points also changes, depending on the number of laps completed.
The new points system was introduced as a result of the Belgian Grand Prix in 2021. With heavy rain dooming the race on Sunday, a few laps behind the safety car were all that fans got to see. With the obligatory laps technically completed to award half points, fans, teams, and drivers were not happy, and demanded changes to be made to the seemingly flawed system.
For the 2022 F1 season, the points system for a shortened race is as follows.
A race with less than two completed laps results in zero points awarded.
A race having more than two laps completed, but less than 25% of the total race, results in only the first five places being awarded points, beginning with six points for the winner down to one for fifth place.
A race having between 25%-50% completed results in the top nine places being awarded points:
- 1st place – 13 points
- 2nd place – 10 points
- 3rd place – 8 points
- 4th place – 6 points
- 5th place – 5 points
- 6th place – 4 points
- 7th place – 3 points
- 8th place – 2 points
- 9th place – 1 point
A race that has been 50%-75% completed results in all ten places being awarded points:
- 1st place – 19 points
- 2nd place – 14 points
- 3rd place – 12 points
- 4th place – 10 points
- 5th place – 8 points
- 6th place – 6 points
- 7th place – 4 points
- 8th place – 3 points
- 9th place – 2 points
- 10th place – 1 point
A race having more than 75% of the laps completed results in full points being awarded as per any normal F1 race.
The F1 points system works by awarding the first 10 drivers to finish a race a set number of points, which accumulate throughout the season. Drivers who finish outside the top 10 don’t receive any points. The driver with the most points at the end of the season wins the F1 Drivers’ Championship.
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