How Long Is An F1 Race? (Fully Explained)

You might notice when watching a Formula 1 season that the lap count for each race is different. This does not mean that the distance of each race is different though. The lap count is determined by the required race distance set by the FIA, and how long an F1 race takes is always about the same.

An F1 race is 305 km long, or about 190 miles. Due to the differing track lengths for each event on the Formula 1 calendar, to reach a race distance of 305 kilometers there will be a range of lap counts. The lap counts range from 44 at Spa in Belgium, to 78 in Monaco.

Though the current rules for race distance are set in stone, over the history of Formula 1 there have been different rules and regulations introduced surrounding race distance. Below, we dive further into the intricacies and history of the lengths of Formula 1 races.

How Many Miles Is An F1 Race?

F1 races are around 190 miles in length. The exact distance an F1 race will run depends on the track’s length, as the race runs the minimum number of laps required to ensure the total race distance is no less than 305 km (just under 190 miles), with the exception of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Formula 1 has recently made a strong effort to expand its presence within the United States. The inclusion of both the Miami Grand Prix, which debuted in 2022, and the Las Vegas Grand Prix, starting in 2023, to the Formula 1 schedule are two very important steps in this plan.

Along with the still relatively new Austin Grand Prix, the United States will now be host to three events on the Formula One calendar starting in 2023.

So, we should make sure that the metric system is not the only measurement of distance we use! For fans that don’t use the metric system, 305 kilometers converts to 189.518 miles, but it is commonly referred to as a flat 190 miles. 305 kilometers or 190 miles is the minimum race distance for Formula 1 races. If it is necessary then the race can go over this distance (more on that soon).

F1 races run using the smallest number of laps that allows the total distance of the race to be at least 305 km, or about 190 miles. This means there are usually some small discrepancies between the tracks as they’re all slightly different lengths, but it keeps things as consistent as is reasonably possible. The longest race distance, at the French GP, is about 309.7km.

The only exception to this is the Monaco Grand Prix. The Monaco track is just 2.07 miles long, and the cars travel much slower around this twisty street circuit than they do elsewhere. This means the total race distance at Monaco is just 260km, or 161 miles. If it was to run to 305km it would exceed the 2-hour time limit.

Why Are F1 Races 305 KM?

2-Hour Time limit

Formula 1 races have a time limit of 2 hours now. Throughout the history of the championship there have been many changes to both the distance of the race and the amount of time allotted to the race. During the first years of the championship, from 1950-57, the time allotted for each race was set at 3 hours. The cars were slower then and needed more time to make their way around the track.

As the cars got faster and live broadcasting of the races started to become commonplace though, the race distance needed to adapt. 2 hours was decided on being the best time limit for the races to fit nicely into a broadcast schedule.

Over 2 Hours?

This 2-hour time limit is the rule, but sometimes there are extreme circumstances that cause the race to go longer than this. If a red flag needs to be thrown during a race and the race needs to be stopped for some time, then the total time of the race with the red flag time included must not exceed 3 hours. The amount of race time not including the red flag must be 2 or less hours.

Excitement

If a race is too long, then excitement from fans that are watching from home and even the ones at the track might get bored before the last lap. The draw of Formula 1 for people that aren’t experts in motorsport is the sheer excitement of the race. F1 is a grand spectacle, so finding the correct time length is very important to keeping that spectacle engaging for its entirety.

Car Reliability

Modern F1 require very specific operating conditions in order to perform at their maximum. The longer a race is run where the cars are forced to operate at their maximum potential for the entire duration, the greater the possibility grows of cars being forced to retire from a part of the car failing.

Why 305? Why Not 300?

While there have been many variations in race distance throughout the history of F1, ranging from 500 km during the 1954-57 seasons to 250 km during the 1977-83 seasons, 305 km has been chosen for now. The rule used to be 300 kilometers plus one lap. This was to ensure that each track on the schedule could hit the same minimum distance. Changing to a flat 305 km just gave the rule more formality.

How Long Are F1 Race Tracks?

F1 race tracks range from 3.3 to 7 km long. Some have similar distances to others, but they are not required to be a certain length by the FIA. The length of the track is primarily determined by the space that the track needs to fit into and the personal design philosophies of the track designers.

For the 2022 season, the racetracks span from 7 kilometers at the longest down to less than 3.5 kilometers at the shortest. The track boasting just over 7 kilometers, at 7.004 km, is Spa-Francorchamps, where the Belgian Grand Prix is held. The shortest track is arguably one of the most famous tracks in the world, the Circuit de Monaco.

The Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore is a great example of a racetrack that fits almost perfectly in between Monaco and Spa in terms of track length. The circuit has a length of 5.063 km (3.146 miles). The majority of tracks on the F1 calendar are between 4 and 6 kilometers in length.

How Long Does An F1 Race Take?

Most F1 races take around 1 hour and 30 minutes. The maximum length of time an F1 race can take is 2 hours. Lap counts are calculated to ensure that the race can be finished in 2 hours or less. However, sometimes there are issues that can cause a race to take longer than expected.

Formula 1 races don’t get canceled due to bad weather very often. The cars are equipped to handle wet conditions. The more likely scenario is that the race will be postponed if there is bad weather in the area and then resumed when it improves enough for safe racing. Races might start a couple of hours late due to a postponement, which can cause problems with broadcast scheduling.

Safety Cars

If an incident occurs during a race and a car is stuck on or near the track, a safety car might be deployed to regulate all of the cars on the track while track crews work to clear the incident. When a safety car is out on track, the cars go much slower.

While it’s unlikely that a safety car will be used for very many laps, these laps can add to the total race time, pushing it closer to the 2-hour limit.If there are many safety car periods within one race, it can quickly add up. However, the race clock does not stop behind a safety car or virtual safety car, so the 2-hour limit still applies.

Red Flags

Red flags can be the cause of the longest race delays that can occur, and they do cause the race clock to stop. Red flags are used when there is a crash on the track that will take a while to clear or when there is exceptionally bad weather. When there is a red flag, all of the cars must make their way to the pit lane.

The pit lane exit will be closed, and all cars will be parked until the red flag period ends. Red flags are only brought out for serious incidents, extremely bad weather, or when there is an issue that requires no cars on the track to fix (broken drain covers for example, or excessive debris). This means they can last a long time, and this can begin to eat into the 3-hour maximum event time limit.

How Many Laps Are There In An F1 Race?

The lap count for each F1 race is calculated to meet the requirements of both the 305-kilometer race distance and the 2-hour time limit. This means that the lap counts at each Formula 1 event can vary. Some tracks on are half the size of some of the other ones, and this affects the lap count.

The race with the lowest lap count is the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, at 44 laps. The Monaco Grand Prix has the most with a total of 78 laps.

A Happy Medium

If we take a look at the Singapore Grand Prix again, we find that the lap count corresponds with the length of the circuit. Just as the Marina Bay Street Circuit is right in the middle of Monaco and Spa in terms of lap distance, it is also right in the middle of them in terms of lap count. Exactly 17 laps separates it from each of them, with there being 61 laps at the Singapore GP.

2022 F1 Race Lap Counts

• Bahrain Grand Prix – 57 laps
• Saudi Arabia Grand Prix – 50 laps
• Australian Grand Prix – 58 laps
• Italian Grand Prix (Imola) – 63 laps
• US Grand Prix (Miami) – 57 laps
• Spanish Grand Prix – 66 laps
• Monaco Grand Prix – 78 laps
• Azerbaijan Grand Prix – 51 laps
• Canadian Grand Prix – 70 laps
• British Grand Prix – 52 laps
• Austrian Grand Prix – 71 laps
• French Grand Prix – 53 laps
• Hungarian Grand Prix – 70 laps
• Belgian Grand Prix – 44 laps
• Dutch Grand Prix – 72 laps
• Italian Grand Prix (Monza) – 53 laps
• Singapore Grand Prix – 61 laps
• Japanese Grand Prix – 53 laps
• US Grand Prix (Austin) – 56 laps
• Mexican Grand Prix – 71 laps
• São Paulo Grand Prix – 71 laps
• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – 58 laps

Why Are F1 Races So Short?

When you compare Formula 1 to some of the other racing series out there, the length of the races might seem to be very short. Especially compared to the World Endurance Championship, which regulates races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Formula 1 races a fraction of the distance.

Fan Engagement

Formula 1 is constantly trying to grow its fanbase. This is increasingly evident by the addition of some new tracks to the F1 calendar (especially in the US) and by the Netflix series Drive to Survive. This series chronicles the story of each season of F1 since 2018, and it has done a lot to help F1’s popularity.

This push towards being a mainstream, worldwide sport fits perfectly with relatively short race distances. Two hours is a reasonable amount of time to expect people to stay engaged with something. Some casual fans of the sport might even still think that the races are too long!

The Nature Of Formula 1 Cars

F1 cars are designed to do one thing – go fast. The relatively short race distance takes some of the pressure of F1 teams when it comes to reliability. A Formula 1 car would not fare well against the WEC LMP1 cars in a full-length endurance race. They are made for different conditions.

The focus on performance rather than endurance creates a wonderful space for motorsport creativity in Formula 1. The sprint style of racing that Formula 1 employs fits a niche that the motorsport world needs.

Which Is The Shortest F1 Race?

The shortest F1 race is the Monaco Grand Prix. Even though the Monaco Grand Prix is still the shortest race on the Formula 1 calendar, the old iteration of the track was even shorter. The Monaco GP that was run in 1929-79 was the shortest F1 race. The track measured in at just 3.1 km (1.9 miles).

The current iteration of the track is slightly longer, reaching 3.337 km (2.074 miles). Because of the slower speeds at the track, it does not reach the minimum race distance that is required for the other tracks.

The race length for the Monaco GP is just 260.286 km (161.734 miles). The Circuit de Monaco is narrow and packed with corners, so the cars naturally go much slower around this track than at others. If it was 305 km, a two-hour race would not be possible.

Shortest F1 Race In History

The shortest F1 race in history by duration was the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. The 3-and-a-half-minute ‘race’ was only 2 laps behind the safety car, after heavy rain eliminated any chance of a proper race going ahead.

We don’t have to look very far back in time to find the shortest F1 race that has been held, as it occurred in 202 at the Belgian Grand Prix.Due to extremely heavy rain, the race was delayed multiple times.

The race ended up beginning after being delayed for over three hours, but it did not last long. The official time for the race ended up landing at 3 minutes and 27 seconds. The drivers were still awarded half points for the positions that they were in when the ‘race’ was ended.

The Race That Never Was

Due to the long delays from the heavy rain, the race never actually started – at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, the race started from the pit lane and behind the safety car. The field of cars followed the safety car around the track for two laps. At the end of the two laps the safety car led the pack back into the pits and the race was deemed complete.

The reason the race director did this was to meet the requirement to still award points to the drivers. In 2021, to award full points to drivers, 75% of the race distance must have been completed. To award half points though, the race only had to last 2 laps. So, two official laps were logged behind the safety car and then the race was ended.

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix understandably did not go down well with fans, teams, and even the drivers. For this reason, F1’s points system changed for 2022 onwards, with more elaborate – but necessary – requirements in place when it comes to awarding points for races that don’t go the full distance, in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

What Is The Longest F1 Race?

The longest F1 race by distance is from a race that is no longer on the F1 calendar but is still present on the IndyCar calendar – the Indianapolis 500. This race was part of the F1 calendar during 1951-60. It was 200 laps covering 804.672 km (500 miles).

The longest non-Indianapolis 500 race in F1 history was the 1951 French Grand Prix at the Circuit Reims-Gueux. 77 laps of the 7.8 km circuit were run, for a total race distance of just under 602 km, or 374 miles.

The longest race of the current F1 season is the French Grand Prix, albeit at a different circuit from the 1951 race. The race at the 3.6-mile Circuit Paul Ricard runs for a total distance of 309.690 km, or 192.43 miles.

Longest F1 Race In History

The longest F1 race in history by the duration of the race was the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. Rain delays and red flags meant the event lasted more than 4 hours, and prompted rule changes to ensure races didn’t go on this long ever again.

At the beginning of the race there was some mild rain falling on the circuit which prompted the race director to start the race behind a safety car. Despite these precautions though, the race was red flagged halfway through as a result of heavy rain.

The delay lasted for approximately two hours before the race was able to get back underway. By the end of the race the clock showed 4 hours 4 minutes and 32 seconds. This marks the longest F1 race in terms of duration, and it was the reason for the introduction of the 4-hour event time limit, which has since decreased to 3 hours.

Longest Track In F1 History

The Pescara Circuit is the longest track to ever hold an F1 race, coming in at nearly 26 km (16 miles). The track was not meant to host an F1 race, but due to cancellations during the 1957 season it was added to the calendar. Even though the race was held, the track was not accepted by everyone. Enzo Ferrari prevented his cars from competing at the event due to safety concerns.

Final Thoughts

F1 races are 305 km, or around 190 miles. As F1 tracks are of differing lengths, the number of laps each race runs for can vary significantly, with the spread ranging from 44 to 78 laps. There is also a 2-hour time limit for F1 races, and a 3-hour time limit for the event including stoppages.