Formula One (F1) racing is beloved by millions of passionate fans from all around the world.
The speed, the beauty, the precision and engineering, and the glory of F1 racing is unmatched anywhere else. Teams and drivers compete with one another throughout a number of grueling races (around 20 different races each season), all in hopes of collecting as many points as possible to win the Grand Championship – bringing home millions of dollars in prize money along the way.
For fans, though, keeping pace with the F1 Points System can be a little bit confusing. Especially if they are new fans to the sport.
But that’s why we’ve put together this detailed guide.
Below we highlight (almost) everything you need to know about the F1 Points System.
You’ll be able to use the inside information in this guide to follow along on Sunday afternoons, tracking and charting how your favorite drivers and teams are doing, and staying in the hunt – the same way that the top drivers are!
Let’s jump right in.
Each F1 season is unique from year to year, though most have about 20 different races that are held on Grand Prix weekends.
These races are scheduled to be hosted at different places around the world (primarily in Europe) and some of the racetracks that F1 drivers compete on are as famous as the best drivers in the history of the sport.
The Monaco track, for example, is recognized all around the globe – even by folks that aren’t into F1 racing at all!
At the end of every race, certain drivers (depending on their finish) are awarded different amounts of points that accumulate throughout the year.
Each finishing position has a standard amount of points that are provided, and at the end of the season these points are tallied up and the driver with the most amount of points ends up the World Champion.
The F1 Point System for finishing positions breakdown like this:
First place – 25 points
Second place – 18 points
Third place – 15 points
Fourth place – 12 points
Fifth place – 10 points
Sixth place – 8 points
Seventh place – 6 points
Eighth place – 4 points
Ninth place – 2 points
Tenth place – 1 point
Drivers that finish outside of the top 10 positions are not awarded any points whatsoever.
It’s really (really) challenging to win a World Championship if you fall outside of the top five spots in any given season – especially when you’re up against very competitive drivers and teams.
A single bonus point is also available to any F1 driver that records the fastest lap at any point in time throughout the race.
This can happen on the first lap of the race, the last lap of the race, or anywhere in the middle – it makes no difference.
The only stipulation is that the driver with the fastest lap of the race also has to finish inside of the Top 10 to qualify for this bonus point. If a driver with the fastest lap finishes outside of the Top 10 they will not be awarded a bonus point.
On top of that, a bonus point is not going to be awarded to a driver with the second fastest time inside of the Top 10. If the fastest lap isn’t also within those finishing in the Top 10 no bonus point is awarded for that race at all.
At the end of the day, the points that F1 drivers accumulate throughout the season go towards determining who wins a certain amount of prize money available at the end of the year.
At the beginning of every F1 season, prize money is pooled together and a percentage of all race revenue is added to the pot.
Some of this money is evenly divided across all of the Top 10 teams at the end of the year (which is why so many teams have top scoring drivers “help” other drivers to make it into the Top 10 whenever possible, even if it means sacrificing a pole position). Prize money isn’t necessarily always awarded based exclusively on merit.
23.75% of the total prize money, however, does go to the teams that finish within the Top 10 – and the World Champions see the most significant portion of that money.\
In 2020, the Top Driver for the year was awarded $15 million. The Top Team also took home $66 million, with the rest of the money evenly distributed across the rest of the field.
As you can see, the more points you accumulate the better off you are going to be when it comes time to divvy up the spoils of the Formula 1 season. All teams are competing to bring home just as many points as possible, making every single Race Sunday a huge deal!
What happens in the event of a tie, though?
This scenario is incredibly rare (it’s only happened a handful of times throughout the history of the points score system in F1), but the race rules do have specific ways to handle this type of situation.
If to drivers have the exact same amount of points at the end of the final race of that particular season, a tiebreaker system is used to determine who is the actual World Champion and who is the route.
The driver that has the most amount of wins in that particular season is given the World Championship title. In the event that both drivers have the same amount of wins during that season, though, the tiebreaker defaults to the driver with the most amount of second-place finishes.
Should they have a tie there as well the tiebreaker moves on to who has the most third-place finishes, and so on and so forth all the way down the line until a single World Championship driver can be crowned.
Again, this doesn’t happen very often in the world of Formula 1. But if it does, this is the tie-breaking system used to determine who gets the final point to go ahead of the other driver and bring home the World Championship title (and a significant amount of money, too).
So there you have it.
That’s how the F1 Point System shakes out these days. It definitely has made every single race more competitive, and has helped to push all drivers – including those on the same team – to race just as hard as humanly possible every time out.
F1 drivers recognize that every point matters. Every finish is a big part of how much money they are going to bring home at the end of the year, and every finish outside of the Top five significantly lowers their chances of bringing home a World Championship.
This is why you’ll see so many drivers really fighting for that top spot, especially as they come into the final turn before the checkered flag is waived. They know that sometimes a million dollar (or more) difference in total payout comes down to whether or not they finish first or second place!
This new F1 point system format has improved the sport significantly.