F1 Grand Prix

A Formula One Grand Prix takes place over a weekend,
from Friday to Sunday.

By Shyam A. Krishna, Senior Associate Editor, and Vijith Pulikkal, Assistant Product Manager
Free practice - Friday
Free practice - Friday

Two Free Practice sessions of 90 minutes each. One in the morning and other in the afternoon. Besides regular drivers, third drivers (newcomers) can participate in place of the regular driver to gain experience and exposure.

Free practice & Qualification - Saturday
Free practice & Qualification - Saturday

One Free Practice session for 60 minutes and Qualifying session to decide grid positions. The fastest qualifier starts at the front (pole position) on the starting grid of 20 slots, and the slowest at the back

Race distance and duration

The length of the race must be 305 km (260km in Monaco GP).

The number of laps in a race is obtained by dividing 305 by the length of a lap, which differs from track to track. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is 55 laps.

The duration of the race cannot be more than 2 hours. If it exceeds 2 hours, the race will finish at the end of the ongoing lap. If a red flag [used when conditions are too dangerous] halts the race, the total time must not exceed 4 hours, and the full time excluding the red flag stoppage may not exceed 2 hours.

Race day

  • A Formula One race starts with a warm-up lap on the pit lanes (tracks away from the grid and are parallel to the start/finish line).
  • Thirty minutes before the start: Cars have to be driven to their grid positions. (If a car fails to do that, it must start the race from the pit lane and can enter the track only after the field has completed the first lap.)
  • At the grid, mechanics make final preparations and adjustments.
  • Five minutes before the race: All race personnel, except the drivers, have to leave the grid.
  • A green light signals the start of the formation lap, a single loop around the track. Drivers are not allowed to overtake except to regain a grid position.
  • A race official enters the track, behind the grid, and uses a flag to signal to the race controller that the field is in place.

The start

The race controller switches on the starting lights (10 red lights in 5 columns). A series of red lights flashes until a final red light comes on and goes out. When the last red light goes out, the race begins.

Pit stops

This is when cars come into the pit stalls (located on a pit lane) for quick maintenance, change of tyres, mechanical repairs or adjustments and other actions required during the race.


The driver who crosses the finish line first after completing a pre-determined number of laps is the winner.


At the end of the race, the drivers who finish at first, second and third positions stand on a podium and are awarded trophies. A constructor's trophy is presented to the winner's team.


The winner receives 25 points, the second-place driver get 18 points, with 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points for positions from 3 to 10, respectively. One bonus point is awarded to the driver and team with the fastest lap of the race, if they finish in the top 10.