Practice and qualifying

What the sporting regulations say:

  • At each Grand Prix meeting all race drivers may participate in two one and a half-hour practice sessions on Friday (Thursday at Monaco), a one-hour practice session on Saturday morning and a qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.
  • While individual practice sessions are not compulsory, a driver must take part in at least one practice session to be eligible for the race.
  • The interval between the first and second free practice sessions may never be less than two and a half hours, while that between the third free practice session and the qualifying practice session must be at least two hours.
  • Race stewards have the power to drop drivers a number of grid positions for infractions committed in practice.
  • Saturday’s qualifying session, designed to take about an hour, is split into three distinct segments – Q1, Q2 and Q3.
  • Each qualifying segment sees multiple drivers on track simultaneously, with each allowed to run as many laps as they want.
  • Q1: Lasts for 18 minutes, at the end of which time the five slowest drivers are eliminated from qualifying and 15 advance to Q2. Any driver whose best Q1 lap time exceeds 107 percent of the fastest time set during that session fails to qualify and may only race at the stewards’ discretion.
  • Q2: After a short break, the times are reset and the 15 remaining cars run in a 15-minute session, at the end of which the slowest five are eliminated from qualifying, leaving 10 to progress to Q3.
  • Q3: After a further break, the times are reset and a final 12-minute session is held to decide pole position and the starting order for the top ten grid places.
  • Grid penalties imposed for technical or driving infringements often result in the grid order changing from that determined in the qualifying session.
  • If a driver impedes another driver during qualifying, his times may be cancelled or he may be given a grid penalty.
  • Any driver whose car stops on the circuit during the qualifying session will not be permitted to take any further part in the session.
  • Any car which stops on the circuit during the qualifying session, and which is returned to the pits before the end of the session, will be held in parc ferm√© until the end of the session. This is in contrast to practice where cars returned to the pits are permitted to rejoin the session.
  • A trophy will be awarded to the driver who sets the most pole positions during the season. In the event of a tie the holder of the greatest number of second places will be taken into account and, if there is still the tie, the holder of the greatest number of third places and so on until a winner emerges.