How do you win?
The obvious answer: cross the finish line first. Getting to that point, however, isn’t exactly straightforward. The layout of a typical race weekend includes three official practice sessions followed by a qualifying session (split into three rounds) that determines each car’s place on the grid. All the drivers are aiming for pole position, which is the first spot on the grid come race day.
How long is a race?
Every circuit is unique and races are either conducted on a specially built track or closed public streets, as seen in Monaco. The number of laps it takes to complete a Grand Prix race amount to 190 miles (305 kilometers), save for the Monaco Grand Prix which clocks in at 160 miles (260.5 kilometers). As for the duration, races are usually around 90 minutes and cannot exceed two hours unless they are red-flagged (i.e., stopped) due to an accident or poor track conditions. Whoever is ahead at the two-hour mark wins.
Speaking of flags, there are a lot of them that appear during a race. The key colors you need to know: yellow signals drivers to slow down due to an accident or hazard on the track. Green means drivers can go full speed ahead. Blue lets a backmarker know that a lead car is preparing to lap them. Checkered indicates the end of a race.
In order to maintain an even playing field, certain elements are controlled. For example, during a race, each driver must use at least two of the three tire compounds brought to each Grand Prix weekend. These compounds range from C5 (the softest compound) to C1 (the hardest compound).
How are points awarded?
Once a car makes it across the finish line, points are awarded to the first ten drivers and their respective constructors (i.e., teams). First place is awarded 25 points, second place receives 18 points, third place receives 15 points, and so on. Tenth place receives one point. The only exception: If less than 75% of the race has been completed, the top ten receive half the normal amount of points. If less than two laps are completed, no points are awarded.
At the end of the season, the team with the most points is named the World Constructors’ Champion, while the driver with the most points is declared the World Drivers’ Champion.