F1 Penalties – What are they? Quick guide & explanation

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

F1 Penalties

A quick guide to all the different types of penalties in Formula 1, what they are and how both teams and drivers can be given them.

2024 Formula 1 Penalties

Once the 2024 season gets underway, this page will list all F1 drivers and teams penalties, fines, points and reprimands, updated after each round of the championship.

F1 Penalties & Regulations

Formula 1 is governed by the FIA who have a huge number of rules and regulations that F1 teams and drivers must obey during the championship and at each Grand Prix.

The three main sets of F1 regulations are:

  • F1 Technical Regulations
  • F1 Sporting Regulations
  • F1 Financial Regulations

The Technical Regulations define the technical criteria and features that the design and build of each F1 car must comply with. 

The Sporting Regulations define the conduct and procedures that F1 teams and drivers must follow both on and off the track during the Grand Prix weekends throughout the championship. These regulations list a number of different penalties that can be given.

The Financial Regulations were brought in at the start of 2021 to define a yearly Cost Cap that all Formula 1 teams must follow, to help even the playing field. For the 2023 season the cost cap was set at $135 million. If the teams are in breach of the cap, they can face one of a number of different penalties.

Types of penalties

Article 54.3 of the FIA F1 Sporting Regulations and article 9.1 of the FIA Financial Regulations both stipulate the different types of penalties that drivers and teams can face if they breach any of the rules within either set of regulations for the series.

Reprimand

A reprimand is an official warning that can be given to drivers or teams for driving infringements or off-track actions.

Drivers will be issued with a 10-place grid penalty to be served at the next race once they receive their fifth reprimand of the season, assuming at least four of the reprimands were given for a driving infringement.

Team members can also be reprimanded. Gunther Steiner, the legendary HAAS team principal, was reprimanded for comments he made towards the stewards at the Spanish Grand Prix. Apparently calling the stewards ‘laymen’ is not acceptable, Gunther…

Esteband ocon reprimand 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Disallowed lap times

If a driver is deemed to have breached track limits during Qualifying then that lap time will be disallowed and removed from the results.

In 2023 the FIA imposed must tighter track limits and we saw many more drivers having their lap times removed during qualifying for going over the edge of the allowable track.

Time penalty

5 or 10-second time penalties can be handed to drivers during a race. These are likely to be given out by the stewards if a driver is deemed to have caused a collision with a competitor.

If they have another pit stop left within that race, they must take their time penalty at the start of the the pit stop before any mechanics can begin working on the car.

If they don’t have another pit stop left during the race, they will have the time penalty added to their elapsed time at the end of the race and their finishing position will be adjusted accordingly.

George russell time penalty Las VEgas GP

Drive-through

A drive-through penalty means the driver must enter the pit lane, follow the speed limit and rejoin the track without stopping. 

If this penalty is handed to a driver within the last 3 laps of a race then instead of driving through the pits, the driver will be handed a 20-second time penalty which will be added to their elapsed time at the end of a race.

Stop-and-go

A stop-and-go penalty means the driver must enter the pit lane, stop in their pit box for at least 10 seconds and then join the race again.

If this penalty is given out within the last 3 laps of a race, the driver doesn’t have to serve the penalty. Instead they will have 30 seconds added to their elapsed time at the end of the race, and their finishing position will be shuffled accordingly.

Grid position drop

Drivers may be given a starting grid position drop for an upcoming race.

Some key components on Formula 1 cars, such as gearboxes and power units, are only allowed to be changed a certain number of times throughout the year. If the team goes over this limit then they’re likely to be given a grid position drop at the next race.

Below are the limits and associated grid penalties for changing gearboxes in F1 cars.

F1 Gearbox allocation and penalties

This particular type of penalty made the news at the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix when Carlos Sainz had to change a Power Unit after hitting a loose drain cover during the first practice session on the new Las Vegas GP track.

Despite it not being his or his team’s fault, the stewards controversially made the decision to give him a 10-place grid penalty for the race, meaning he started from 12th instead of 2nd on the grid.

Carlos Sainz grid penalty FIA Las Vegas

Pit lane start

A driver may be required to start the following race (or sprint race) from the pit lane (effectively starting from last on the grid).

If an F1 car’s suspension setup is modified either directly before or after the race (when under ‘parc ferme’ conditions) then a pit-lane start penalty applies, as the image below shows.

Rules for a pit lane start in F1

Disqualification

If a driver is deemed to have committed an incredibly serious driving infringement, or their car is found to be not in compliance with the technical regulations after a race, then the driver can be disqualified from the results.

This happened at the 2023 United Stated Grand Prix at COTA, where both Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified from the results when both of their cars failed the technical checks after the race. Both cars had too much wear to the underside of the chassis.

Hamilton disqualified 2023 US GP

Fines

Teams and drivers can be handed a financial penalty for a number of different reasons. As an example, drivers will be fined 100 Euros for every 1 kph they exceed the pitlane speed limit by, up to a maximum of 1000 Euros.

As an example of a penalty resulting from a breach of the Financial Regulations, Red Bull were handed a $7 million fine after exceeding the 2021 cost cap.

Lewis Hamilton was fined 50,000 Euros in Qatar for walking across the circuit after a crash with his teammate put him out of the race.

In 2024 the maximum fine a driver can receive is being increased from 250,000 Euros to 1 million Euros. Exactly what is worthy of 1 million Euro fine, I’m not sure!

Lewis Hamilton 50,000 euro fine for crossing the track in Qatar F1

Deduction of constructor's championship points

Teams can have points deduced from their total in the constructor’s championship standings.

Deduction of driver's championship points

Drivers can have points deducted from their total score in the driver’s championship standings. 

Coming in to the final race decider for the incredible 2021 season, both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton started the last Grand Prix of the year on equal points.

In the build up to the showdown, the F1 race director had to remind them that they could have points deducted if they were judged to have caused a collision on purpose which took the other driver out of the race.

Abu Dhabi event notes 2021 - points deduction F1

Reduced wind tunnel or testing time

Teams can have a limit imposed on the amount of time they can spend testing in a wind tunnel or on track.

After breaching the 2021 cost cap Red Bull had their 2023 wind tunnel testing hours reducded by 10%.

Reduced cost cap

Teams can have their budget reduced if found to be in breach of any of the finanical regs.

F1 drivers penalty points

Along with any of the above penalties that can be handed out to a F1 driver, they can simultaneously receive points on their racing license. If they accrue a total of 12 points, they will be suspended for the following race. 

The points on a driver’s license expire at the end of the season. In 2023 Sergio Perez amassed the most points on his license, reaching a total of 7 by the end of the year. In the sports history no driver has ever made it to 12 points.

How Penalties are Awarded in F1

At Each Grand Prix there are a number of official stewards whose job is to uphold the regulations that govern F1. There are usually around four stewards, most of whom are ex-racing drivers and have had a long career in motorsport.

Each time there’s an incident on (or-off) track they will review videos and live footage to determine whether a breach of rules has occured, and who is at fault.

The stewards will summon the offending driver (or team) and hand out whatever penalty they see fit. Teams and drivers can appeal these penalties if they feel they’ve been incorrectly punished.

Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

leave a comment

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Join the oversteer48 Inside Line

I’ll share all this with you (and more) for free:

  • Tips for getting hold of F1 tickets, even if they appear sold-out 
  • Updated travel guides and info in the run up to the big race weekends
  • Link you up with a huge community of F1 fans travelling to each race