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The Simple Mathematics of the Formula 1 Drivers' Series Point System

The Man With the Most Points Wins the Title

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Since its beginnings in 1950 the Formula 1 championship has changed its point scoring system for drivers several times. Over the first 10 years points were awarded to the top five finishers of a race. From 1960 to 2002 the top six scored points. Since 2003, the top eight race finishers scored points, and the number of points between the winner and the second placed finisher narrowed. Here's why...

Birth of the Current System

While Michael Schumacher and Ferrari were dominating every championship, the International Automobile Federation, the sport's rules making body, changed the points scoring system to make the championship suspense last longer. They decided to award the second placed finisher eight points instead of six, and to give points to the top eight drivers in a race.

Points Breakdown

As of 2003, therefore, the top eight scored points as follows:

  • 1st: 10
  • 2nd: 8
  • 3rd: 6
  • 4th: 5
  • 5th: 4
  • 6th: 3
  • 7th: 2
  • 8th: 1

And the Winner is...

The man who earns the most points over the season, wins the drivers' title. If the top two drivers finish level on points, then the one with more victories in the season wins. Should they each have the same number of victories, then the one with the most second place finishes wins, etc.

Exceptional Cases

If a race lasts less than two laps before it is called off - perhaps due to bad weather or a bad accident - then no points are awarded. If a race is called to an end after seventy-five percent of it has been run, then half as many points are awarded. That's how the closest title finish ever happened between Niki Lauda and Alain Prost, in 1984, when Lauda won the title by half a point.

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