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A quick F1 guide for new fans

The 2023 season of F1 has officially started - and if you're new to the sport there can be a lot of terms and events that are completely new to you - so we've made a quick little guide.

First things first, what happens during the weekend?

  • Practice: Practice happens two times on Fridays, each lasting an hour, here the positions don't really matter as much, as it's practice.

  • Sprint: A Sprint race is 100 km and lasts around half an hour - and points are awarded to the top 3.

  • Qualifying: Qualifying happens on Saturday - and is a race to see which drivers finished first. Here the order actually matters, as they decide the starting position for the Grand Prix.

  • Grand Prix: The Grand Prix is the actual race where drivers compete to win. There will be 23 Grand Prix's in the 2023 season.

Points - how do they work?

  • The point system is determined by who wins and the following finishes. The top 10 positions are called pole positions - and are ideally where each driver wants to be placed - both for qualifying and for the Grand Prix.

  • The winner of the race gets 25 points, which is the followed by 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points. An additional point is added to the driver and team with the fastest lap IF they finished in pole position.

  • The podium ceremony is for the top three drivers of the race - and is often celebrated with champagne being showered everywhere.

Why do you want points? There are to championships being competed for in F1 - the constructers and the drivers. The constructers is the team (or car) championship. Teams get points every time their drivers do, meaning if a team has two drivers on pole position, they get two sets of points. This is usually where teams use strategy in order to gain the most points out of both of their drivers.

The drivers championships (usually shortened to WDC) is for the individual drivers, where their individual points get tallied up.

Tyres - why do they matter?

Tyre compounds: Tyre compounds refer to how hard or soft a tyre is. The hardness affects performance, and there is therefore also some strategy to when you use which type of tyre. The hardness of each tyre changes from Grand Prix to Grand Prix, but there are always three types, one soft, medium and hard

. There are also tyres for wet conditions - as water on the track can be dangerous for the drivers. All tyres are manufactured by Pirelli. Most dry weather tyres do not have any grooves.

  • Soft tyres – These represent the fastest rubber, but are likely to wear out before the harder compounds do.

  • Medium tyres – This is the compromise compound. It’s usually slower than the softs but faster than hards. And it should last longer than the softs, but not as long as hards!

  • Hard tyres – These provide the least grip, but are supposed to remain in working order the longest.

A driver can only use 13 sets of dry weather tyres throughout the entire race weekend - through practice all the way to the Grand Prix. HOWEVER drivers must return two sets after each practice session, essentially only leaving seven for qualifying and the race.

Tyres need to stay warm in order for the grip to be at it's best - around 100 degrees celsius is optimal, which is why if there is a safety car* on the track you will see the drivers zigzagging to keep up the heat.

*The safety car is deployed if there is an accident or any debris on the track that needs to be cleared

Pitstop: The pitstop happens during racing and is when cars go in to get a tyre change. Here, the quickness in which the tyres can be changed can and does affect the outcome of the race. It's an easy place to fuck up, which can have detrimental damage to pole positions.

More tyre lingo:

  • Scrubbed: Sometimes using a brand-new tyre is tricky as it heats up for the first time in its life. When this is the case, teams often ‘scrub in’ a set of tyres by running them for a couple of laps in practice.

  • Slicks: Completely smooth tyres with no grooves. Designed for dry-weather use.

  • Blistering: When the inner part of the tyre overheats in relation to the outer part, creating a minor explosion from the inside and damaging the surface.

  • Graining: When the outer surface is hotter than the inside of the tyre, it leads to the outside rubber flexing, breaking off and sticking on top of the tyre surface.

  • Flat spot: As the name suggests, this is a patch where the surface of the tyre loses its curvature.


A quick run down of the flag meanings (because there are MANY).

  • Yellow: Slow down and no over taking.

  • SC Board: Safety car on track - drivers must stay behind the safety car.

  • Yellow & red stripes: Slippery track, due to oil, water or loose debris.

  • Green: Normal racing conditions. Go.

  • Blue: The driver in front who is one or more laps down must let faster cars behind pass.

  • White: Medical or ambulance on the track.

  • Red: Session is stopped due to danger.

  • Black: Driver is disqualified.

  • Black with orange circle: Car is damaged and must return to Pitts.

  • Half black/half white: Warns a driver for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

  • Chequered flag: Finished!

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