Sport Rulebook

Driving to Win: The Technical Regulations of Formula One

The world of motorsports is full of excitement and innovation, but safety should never take a backseat. With potentially dangerous constructions and high speeds, it is crucial to have strict regulations and protocols in place.

In this article, we will dive into the general principles of vehicle safety and the requirements for an FIA Super License. We will also explore the rules and regulations surrounding aerodynamic components and prohibited devices.

General Principles:

FIA Super License Requirement:

A Super License is a certification issued by the Fdration Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) that allows a driver to participate in Formula One racing. To apply for a Super License, a driver must have at least 40 points from the FIA’s point system, which is based on their performance in junior racing series.

It is essential to obtain this license as it provides evidence that the driver is capable of handling the high-speed and high-pressure environment. Vehicle Safety:

The safety of the driver, team, and spectators is of utmost importance.

The FIA has stringent safety protocols in place to ensure that the cars are safe to drive and do not pose any unnecessary risks. The stewards have the authority to ban a car if it is deemed a threat to safety.

If a car is banned, the team must rectify the situation and ensure that the car is safe before it can be approved for racing. Aerodynamic Components:

Component Requirements and Symmetry:

Bodywork is an essential component in motorsports.

It is responsible for providing downforce, which increases the car’s grip on the track. The FIA has strict requirements for bodywork to ensure it is not a danger to other drivers.

The bodywork must have a uniform surface and be nominally symmetrical with Y=0 within +/- 5mm along the centerline of the car.

Prohibited Devices:

Some teams try to gain an unfair advantage by introducing prohibited devices.

One example of this is the “double diffuser,” which was used by some teams in the late 2000s. The device was ultimately banned by the FIA after it was deemed illegal.

Other devices that bridge gaps or create artificial aerodynamic effects are also prohibited. Conclusion:

In conclusion, the FIA has strict regulations and protocols in place to ensure the safety of drivers, teams, and spectators.

It is essential to obtain an FIA Super License to participate in Formula One racing, and the requirements are rigorous. The rules and regulations surrounding bodywork and aerodynamic components are also strict to ensure fair play and the safety of all involved.

By adhering to these regulations, motorsports can continue to thrive and provide excitement to fans around the world.

3) Mass

Weight and Ballast:

The mass of a Formula One car is tightly regulated by the FIA, with a minimum weight of 746kg including the driver. To ensure that teams do not have an unfair advantage over one another, ballast must be added to ensure that all cars meet the minimum weight requirements.

The ballast, which can weigh up to 80kg, is typically placed as low as possible in the car to improve handling and reduce the center of gravity. Teams can choose where to place the ballast in the car, but it must be secure and not pose a danger to the driver.

Replacement Parts:

In Formula One, replacement parts must be equal to the original parts in terms of design, materials, and performance. This rule is in place to prevent teams from gaining an unfair advantage by using parts that do not meet the standards set by the FIA.

The replacement parts must also be approved by FIA technical delegates and will undergo testing to ensure they meet the required standards.

4) Power Unit

Engine and Related Systems:

The Power Unit is the heart of a Formula One car and consists of an internal combustion engine, a turbocharger, energy recovery systems, and control electronics. Each car must have a 4-stroke, 6-cylinder engine, with a maximum capacity of 1.6 liters.

The turbocharger is used to increase the airflow to the engine, which increases power output. The energy recovery systems include the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and the heat energy recovery system (HERS), which convert kinetic and heat energy into electrical energy to be stored and used later.

FIA-Designated Requirements:

The FIA has designated specific requirements for the Power Unit, which must be adhered to by all teams. The Power Unit must be manufactured by FIA-designated suppliers, and certain components, such as the DC sensors, must also be provided by FIA-designated suppliers.

The mass of the power unit, including the energy recovery systems and all control electronics, cannot exceed 151 kg.

Additionally, the FIA regulates the power output of the Power Unit during the race.

During the race, the Power Unit is limited to no more than 100 kg of fuel and has a maximum fuel flow rate of 100 kg/hour. These regulations are in place to ensure that all teams have an equal chance of winning and to promote the development of new, more sustainable technologies.


In conclusion, the mass and power unit requirements for Formula One are tightly regulated by the FIA. Teams must adhere to strict regulations regarding weight and ballast, and all replacement parts must meet the same standards as the original parts.

The Power Unit is the essential component of a Formula One car and includes an internal combustion engine, energy recovery systems, and control electronics. The FIA has set designated requirements for the Power Unit, including its mass and the use of FIA-designated suppliers for certain components.

These regulations ensure that the race is fair and promotes the development of sustainable technologies. 5) Fuel, Oil, and Cooling Systems

Fuel Tank Requirements:

The fuel tank in a Formula One car is unlike any other fuel tank in a production car.

It is constructed using a single rubber bladder and must conform to the FIA Standard FT5-1999. The fuel tank is required to have a pressure relief valve, a fuel tank pressure sensor, and a self-sealing breakaway valve in the event of an accident.

The pressure relief valve is designed to prevent the fuel tank from rupturing under high pressure, and the breakaway valve allows the fuel to escape from the tank in the event of an accident. The self-sealing mechanism prevents fuel from leaking out of the tank if the valve is severed.

Fuel and Cooling Restrictions:

There are specific restrictions on the use of fuel and cooling systems in Formula One. The teams are not permitted to have any coolant or oil lines running through the cockpit area.

This is a safety measure to prevent oil or coolant leaks that could harm the driver or potentially cause a fire. Additionally, the fuel used in Formula One must be an approved fuel oxidant, and it must receive prior FIA approval.

This is again to ensure safety and fairness, as well as to promote the development of sustainable fuels.

6) Electrical Systems

Software and Components:

The on-car software in a Formula One car is essential for managing the complex systems within the car. It controls the Power Unit, energy recovery systems, and communication with the pit and telemetry.

To ensure that the software is not used to gain an unfair advantage, it must be homologated by the FIA and conform to the FIA Standard ECU. The homologation process involves the FIA verifying that the software meets the required standards and that it doesn’t contain any unauthorized functionality that could be used to manipulate the car’s performance.

Additionally, the FIA requires teams to use monitoring sensors to ensure that all the software and systems within the car are functioning correctly. Data Acquisition:

In Formula One, it is critical to gather as much data as possible to manage and optimize the car’s performance.

Data is collected from hundreds of sensors on the car, including temperature, pressure, and speed sensors. To ensure data integrity and prevent interference, the control electronics used to acquire the data must be physically separate and electrically isolated from other systems on the car.

The team uses this data to make adjustments to the car, improve performance, and make strategic decisions during the race. Conclusion:

Formula One is more than just high-speed racing.

It is a complex engineering feat that involves designing and developing systems that must conform to strict regulations set by the FIA. The fuel, oil, and cooling systems in Formula One cars must meet rigid safety standards to prevent accidents and promote sustainability.

Moreover, the electrical systems in Formula One cars must meet the stringent requirements set by the FIA to ensure no foul play and a level playing field in the race. The FIA’s regulations ensure that Formula One racing remains exciting, safe, and fair for everyone involved.

7) Transmission

Rear-Wheel Drive:

A Formula One car is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle and can only drive the rear wheels. Rear-wheel drive provides several benefits, including better acceleration, handling, and cornering.

Moreover, rear-wheel drive allows for compensating for excessive torque from the engine more effectively. The gearbox and differential are located at the rear of the car; these components should be compact, lightweight, and have minimal frictional loss.

Clutch and Gear-Change Components:

Transmission in a Formula One car is a sequential gearbox, controlled by paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The clutch system used in Formula One cars is a sophisticated, electronically controlled system that engages and disengages the gearbox with an inhumanly fast speed.

Furthermore, the disengaging of the clutch for at least 15 minutes is necessary to ensure that the car does not move from a stationary position during inspection or maintenance. Holding positions, other than neutral (between gears driving and reverse), are not allowed while on-track, and drivers are required to move the car using only the starter.

The clutch system and other gear change components must weigh at least 22 kg, and no team member is allowed to touch the car except in a pit lane. 8) Brakes, Suspension, Steering, Wheels, and Tires

Suspension and Steering:

The suspension is an essential component of a Formula One car that determines how the car responds to changes on the track.

The suspension must be of the sprung type, and all four corners should have an independent suspension system. The FIA prohibits the use of electronically controlled suspensions to maintain a level playing field.

The steering of Formula One cars is also controlled by a steering wheel that houses the vital components needed to adjust the car’s handling. The FIA sets specific regulations to ensure that the steering wheel isn’t used to gain an unfair advantage, such as artificial stability controls.


Formula One cars use a single brake system, controlled by a single pedal. The brake pedal drives two master cylinders, one for each brake system.

If one brake system fails, the driver can still operate the other brake system. The brake calipers used in Formula One cars are typically made of lightweight materials such as aluminum and are designed to withstand the immense force generated during braking.

Brake ducts (exposed to the wind) provide cooling air to the brakes since they generate significant heat. Wheels and Tires:

The wheels and tires used in Formula One are specially designed for the cars and the race conditions.

Wheels are made of magnesium alloy and feature a single nut to facilitate quick changes. Tires are also unique to Formula One; they are made by a single supplier and are designed to provide maximum grip, traction, and responsiveness under different track conditions.

Pirelli has been the sole supplier for Formula One since the 2011 season, and their tires must be selected for use at each Grand Prix from a range of compounds – soft, medium, and hard – as determined by Pirelli. Conclusion:

Formula One is a sport that depends on an intricate balance of power, performance, safety, and fairness.

The transmission of Formula One cars is specially designed for rear-wheel drive, compensating for excessive engine torque. The clutch system is of great customizability and ensures smooth gear changes.

Suspension and steering are other crucial components of the car, making it responsive and ensuring the car’s stability. Both brakes and wheels – essential for braking and maneuverability – need to meet exacting FIA standards to optimize performance and ensure safety.

All these rules govern the technical aspects of Formula One racing, ensuring a fair and level playing field for all teams and drivers.

9) Car Construction and Survival Cell

Cockpit Access and Head Space:

The cockpit is the essential part of a Formula One car, and it should be designed to ensure the safety of the driver. The cockpit must be easy to access and exit in case of an emergency.

The driver’s head should be well-supported to prevent head injuries during collisions. The FIA mandates strict regulations for cockpit design to ensure the safety of the driver.

Roll Structures:

Roll structures in Formula One cars are designed to protect the driver’s head in the event of an inverted crash. The car must feature two roll structures, one behind the driver’s head and another behind the fuel cell.

These structures are designed to support the weight of the car in the event of a crash and prevent the driver from being trapped in the wreckage. The roll structure behind the driver must support the equivalent of the car’s weight from one side for a specified period to ensure optimal strength.

10) Safety Structures, Safety Equipment, and Homologation

Safety Regulations:

Safety is of utmost importance in Formula One racing, and the FIA modifies regulations regularly to address any safety weaknesses they identify. For instance, in 2021, the FIA modified the regulations to reduce the speed in slow corners and improve safety.

The changes included an increased minimum weight limit and changes to the floor of the car. The FIA also ensures crash tests to determine the safety of the car in high impact situations.

Additionally, all track barriers must meet the FIA’s impact test. Impact-Absorbing Structures:

Impact-absorbing structures in a Formula One car play a critical role in enhancing safety.

The car must have two impact-absorbing structures on each side, one in front of the cockpit and another behind the gearbox. These structures are designed to absorb the energy from the impact of a crash, reducing the amount of force transferred to the driver.

The FIA sets specific regulations concerning the material and size of these structures to ensure their effectiveness. Fire Extinguishing System:

To ensure safety, all Formula One cars must have a fire extinguishing system in case of a fire.

Fire is a severe risk in Formula One since the cars run on high-octane fuel prone to igniting if it comes into contact with a hot surface in the body of the car. Consequently, FIA regulations mandate that all cars be equipped with a fire extinguishing system that operates automatically in the event of a fire.

This system includes a tank with fire extinguishing agents and nozzles placed inside and outside the car. Homologation:

Homologation is the process of certifying that the design, engineering, and manufacturing of a Formula One car meet the safety standards set by the FIA.

All Formula One cars must be homologated by the FIA to achieve compliance with their regulations. The homologation process involves testing the car’s safety systems, crash structures, and other components to ensure they meet the required standards.


The safety of drivers is an essential aspect of Formula One, and the FIA sets regulations to ensure drivers’ safety. Access to the cockpit, roll structures, impact-absorbing structures, fire extinguishing systems, and homologation

Popular Posts