How Does F1 Qualifying Work?

How Does F1 Qualifying Work?

Drivers can spend up to one hour at the end of every session of a race to drive slowly around the track’s two or three kilometers if they need to get in extra practice to ensure they get their best time. Drivers have to take a 10-minute break after about 35 minutes of driving.

Before each race weekend, the race organizers, including all the teams and drivers, will meet for a pre-qualifying session. That is the qualifying session. The session runs as usual, with only a few changes. Only the fastest 12 drivers per car will be able to attempt to set a lap time and race in the main grid. You may have 12 more competitors in the secondary grid, of course.
So, qualifying is a competition between the best 12 drivers in each car, and is run for the 12 positions on the starting grid. A car begins the competition when the checkered flag falls.

The Formula 1 qualifying is where teams race against each other to see who gets the best starting position for the first race of the season.

When Does Qualifying Happen?

However, it is common for the FIA to allow teams to have their cars qualified during a weekend, so that they have more time on-track to prepare for their race. For example, the 2019 Australian Grand Prix allowed teams to have their cars raced through to the end of qualifying. This allowed more time for teams to make adjustments during qualifying, and to have the first practice session of the weekend on Sunday so they can make final set-up adjustments.

Is there an Exception to Qualifying the Day Before a Race?

Formula One rules require that drivers qualify for each race individually. This rule was put in place to ensure that only the top drivers qualified for each race. With a qualifying race the fastest driver doesn’t know who is behind them and can start the race in whatever position they like. A qualifying race is also a very fun race to watch as it is not the main race.

If a driver starts the race in 20th place, and the driver can go up 15 positions without having to overtake, the driver can have a pretty good chance to be on the podium and possibly win the race.

A Brief History

A single Q3 session is run for 15 minutes with the top 10 cars separated by half a tenth of a second and the top 20 cars separated by a full tenth. The top five finishers in Q3 take the top three spots on the grid, plus the two fastest cars set to start from the pole. The remaining cars start from the grid in alphabetical order based on their driver’s names.

How Does the Qualifying Process Work in Formula 1?

The Q2 session consists of 50-minutes of running. During this time, no brakes will be used and the field will be split into five groups. Four cars will be on the track at all times, which means that no gaps exist. This means that the driver in the car in front of you can affect your performance. Each of the five groups will run the race at its own pace.

The second qualifying session, Q2, is very similar to Q1, except that it’s only 15 minutes long instead of 20. In this session, many teams change their tyres for softer compounds with less durability but better grip for optimal performance. Historically, drivers who made it through Q2 into Q3 had to start the race on the Pirelli tyres they used in Q2. However, the FIA scrapped the rule at the beginning of 2022 with the release of new regulations.

Group stage
The top 8 drivers from Q2 advance into the Group Stages.

The race starts with the drivers in formation, and the field is allowed to race on green flag lap number one. All cars are now required to start on the tires they qualified with. Each car then starts with a slow, warm-up lap. During that time, the drivers and teams can make pit stops to refuel, change tires, and do other necessary tasks.

What is Parc Ferme?

After qualifying, F1 cars are locked in their current state by a condition called “parc ferme.” This locking period lets stewards review the vehicles before the race so they can make sure they can legally take to the track. If a team chooses to change a car after qualifying, they will often face a grid penalty that will push them further down in the starting lineup.

As the qualifying period ended, Hamilton was on course for a fourth-place finish in the first session.

Unique Strategies During Qualifying

One of the most difficult things for a driver to accomplish is to go to a new circuit and be able to immediately know which track strategy will work best. This requires drivers to have a good understanding of the car’s characteristics and strengths and weaknesses, along with the characteristics of the circuit itself.

There were some very interesting choices to get a tow. For example, the 2019 Italian Grand Prix at Monza showed so many F1 drivers waiting for an opportunity to get a tow, that only one set a time in Q3. Charles Leclerc, driving for Ferrari, earned pole position, or first place on the starting grid, for choosing to race without trying to get a slipstream.

Does Qualifying Impact World Championship Standings?

Points are scored by all of the drivers during a qualifying session, with no regard for which car is on pole position. The fastest ten drivers during the session earn a set amount of points (eight, in this case), with the fastest driver (usually the pole sitter) earning eight points and the eighth driver earning one point.

Conclusion: How Does F1 Qualifying Work?

The qualifying rounds start with 15 minutes of practice and 15 minutes of qualifying. The drivers will go out and see if their car can go around the track the fastest to set the grid. There are a lot of rules and a lot of things that a driver must do to get into Q3. The teams choose three cars that they think can be quick in Q3. The cars that are not chosen are given a time to improve their speed and better their grid position for Q3.

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