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Beginners guide to F1 - DRS, Scoring System and types of tyres

F1's rise in popularity means there are likely to be plenty of new fans tuning into Sunday's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. 

An epic title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in 2021, coupled with Netflix's hit F1 documentary ‘Drive to Survive' have done wonders for the sport's image and means many are giving it a try.

First-time viewers of F1 may be left scratching their heads as to how the sport works and the technical language that accompanies it. Therefore, we've endeavoured to put together a guide to F1 to make sure everyone watching is up to speed by the time the lights go out for the start of the 2023 season.

What2023 F1 Championship
WhereAcross the world
WhenSunday, 5th March - Sunday, 26th November
How to watchSky Sports and Channel 4
Drivers' Championship OddsMax Verstappen 4/6, Charles Leclerc 4/1, Lewis Hamilton 5/1, George Russell 14/1, Sergio Perez 16/1

A brief history of F1

F1 was an evolution of the European Motor Racing Championships that ran in the 1920s and 1930s, coming into existence in 1946 when a new ‘formula' or rules for racing was established. 

The first F1 race, the Turin Grand Prix, was held that year, while the inaugural Drivers' World Championship was staged in 1950. The Constructors' Championship, awarded to the team with the most points at the end of the season, was introduced in 1958.

F1 has gone through several stages of evolution to reach its current iteration with numerous changes to the rules governing safety, engines, car designs and tyres. 

This season will be the longest in F1 history with no fewer than 23 races being held, starting in Bahrain with the season-opening Grand Prix on Sunday, 5th March and concluding in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, 26th November.

How many teams are there in F1? 

F1 is currently permitted to have up to 26 cars on the track at one time, but for the 2023 season there will be 20 cars competing, two from each of the ten teams involved in the sport.

Here's a list of the teams and their drivers for the upcoming campaign: 

2023 driver line-up

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton
George Russell

Red Bull 

Max Verstappen
Sergio Perez

Ferrari 

Charles Leclerc
Carlos Sainz

McLaren 

Lando Norris
Oscar Piastri 

Alpine

Esteban Ocon
Pierre Gasly 

AlphaTauri

Yuki Tsunoda
Nyck de Vries

Aston Martin 

Fernando Alonso
Lance Stroll

Alfa Romeo 

Valtteri Bottas
Zhou Guanyu

Williams 

Alex Albon
Logan Sargeant

Haas 

Kevin Magnussen
Nico Hulkenberg 

How does a Formula 1 race weekend work?

An F1 race weekend takes place over three days with teams traditionally getting two one-hour practice sessions on a Friday to study how the car is performing on a track.

There's a third one-hour practice session on Saturday morning before a one-hour qualifying session for the race itself is held in the afternoon. Qualifying is split into three phases - Q1, Q2 and Q3 - with the five slowest drivers being eliminated in Q3, five more bowing out in Q2 before the final ten battle it out for pole position. 

Pole goes to the driver who sets the fastest time in Q3 and means they start at the front of the grid on race day, followed by the next fastest driver and so on.

The race itself is then held on Sunday and usually lasts just under two hours. The cars compete over the least number of laps that exceed 305 kilometres, except in Monaco, where the distance is reduced to 260km.  

What is a sprint race?

First introduced in July 2021 for the British Grand Prix, this season will see six Sprint weekends held across the season. A sprint shakes up the established order of a race weekend and is used to decide who gets pole position for Sunday's race. 

A sprint weekend consists of a practice session on Friday followed by a qualifying session for the sprint race. 

Teams get another practice session on Saturday morning before the sprint race, which is held over 100km. The winner of the sprint is awarded eight points and will start Sunday's main race from pole position.

What is the F1 scoring system?

Drivers are awarded points for finishing in the top 10 of a Grand Prix, with 25 points going to the race winner. There's also an extra point on offer to the driver who sets the fastest lap time during the race. 

Here's the F1 scoring system for 2023:

PositionPoints
1st25
2nd18
3rd15
4th12
5th10
6th8
7th6
8th4
9th2
10th1

Points are also awarded for the sprint races with the top eight all awarded points as follows:

PositionsPoints
1st8
2nd7
3rd6
4th5
5th4
6th3
7th2
8th1

The driver with the most points at the end of the season is crowned the Drivers' champion, while the points tallies of a team's two drivers are added together to determine the Constructors' title.

What is DRS?

The Drag Reduction System (DRS) was brought into Formula 1 in 2011 in order to increase the amount of overtaking during a race. 

The system works by opening an adjustable flap on the rear wing of an F1 car which reduces drag and can boost a car's speed by between 10 to 12 kilometres per hour. 

DRS can be used at any time during practice or qualifying but its use is limited during a race. It isn't in operation during the first two laps of a race and a driver must be less than one second behind the car in front for it to become active

Cars must also be in specific DRS zones on a track for the system to function. Most circuits have two DRS zones, while a few have three. Albert Park in Australia will become the first venue to have four DRS zones this season.

What types of tyres are used in F1?

The tyres used in F1 are nothing like those fitted to an ordinary car with official tyre supplier Pirelli designing them to last between only 60 to 120 kilometres. 

That means teams tend to have to make at least one pit stop per race due to degradation, a term used to describe a tyre losing its performance or grip. 

There are six different types of tyres available, ranging from the C0 compound which are the hardest and longest lasting tyres, but also the slowest, to the fast but short-lived C5. 

Pirelli will make available three of the six compounds for each race, one hard, one medium and one soft set, with the C1, C2 and C3 being chosen for the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

The tyre compounds are colour-coded so viewers can tell the difference with the hardest compound marked in white, the medium compound yellow and the softest tyre red. 

There are also two sets of wet weather tyres - green-marked intermediate and blue-marked wet tyres.

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