The Longest and shortest F1 races from the last 25 years

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

F1 car in the rain with an umbrella over it

What are the longest and shortest F1 races that we’ve witnessed in recent years? Is there a time limit on the racing? How few laps can be completed?

Answers below!

Early days of F1

Back in the early days of Formula 1 (think 1950s and 60s) there were a couple of particular racing events that were longer than anything we’d see today.

One of these was when IndyCar and Formula 1 combined for the Indy 500 once a year. The 500 mile race would regularly get close to being 4 hours long and would fill the top spots of any list ranking the longest races ever.

Plus, some of the other old-school Grand Prix were much longer. The German Grand Prix used the 13-mile long Nurburgring Nordschleife with races that regularly exceeded 3 hours in the ’50s and 60s.

The Belgian Grand Prix also used the older version of Spa Francorchamps which was more than 9 miles long, resulting in races that racked up over 500km total distance.

Rudolf Caracciola in an Alfa Tipo driving round the Nurburgring Carousel in 1932

F1 race time limits

Nowadays Formula 1 set rules for how long or short a Grand Prix should be.

The target length for a Formula 1 race is 305km (190 miles). The number of laps in the Grand Prix will be set to get as close to that distance as possible, depending on which track it is and how long a lap is.

There is a 2-hour time limit on F1 races, where the target is for the cars to be racing for no longer than that amount of time.

However, 2 hours is the limit for the cars when they’re racing. If there are any red flags or the race is suspended, there’s a 3-hour limit that comes in to play ones the race has started. That 3-hour window is there to get the two hours of racing completed.

In 2021 the maximum window was reduced from 4 to 3 hours.

Longest races of the last 25 years

So to rule out all those old-school races, we’ll just look at the Grand Prix that have taken place in the last 25 years. Let’s call it the ‘modern era’ of Formula One.

Longest races by time

The longest races listed below all had red-flag interruptions that caused them to be delayed. Those delays are included in the times show.

Grand Prix Year Time Why so long?
Canada 2011 4 hours 4 minutes 39 seconds 2 hour rain delay mid-race
Japan 2022 3 hours 1 minute 44 seconds 1 hour rain delay mid-race
Brazil 2016 3 hours 1 minute 1 second Two 30 minute rain delays mid-race, 6 safety cars
Bahrain 2020 2 hours 59 minutes 47 seconds Grosjean's fireball crash suspended the race
South Korea 2010 2 hours 48 miutes 30 seconds 45 minute rain delay mid-race, 3 safety cars
Malaysia 2012 2 hours 44 minutes 51 seconds 50 minute rain delay mid-race
Australia 2023 2 hours 32 minutes 38 seconds 3 red flag stoppages due to seperate crashes
Longest F1 races by time

The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix is the longest ever Formula 1 race. The weather in Montreal that Sunday was horrendous, with torrential rain meaning the race started behind the safety car.

It eventually got underway, but the red flags came out again on lap 26 due to the rain. The race was stopped for over 2 hours before it got going again. When it restarted, we saw one of the best ever comebacks in F1 history. 

Jenson Button twice found himself in last place but stormed through the field to take the lead from Vettel on the very last lap, and bring home a momentus victory.

Shortest races

From the longest to the shortest. Below are the shortest F1 races in the last 25 years.

Shortest races by time

Grand Prix Year Time Why so short?
Belgium 2021 3 minutes 27 seconds Race abandoned after 2 laps due to rain
Malaysia 2009 55 minutes 30 seconds Race abandoned after 31 laps due to rain
Belgium 2001 1 hour 8 minutes 5 seconds Race null and void after 6 laps due to crash. New shorter race of just 36 laps begins.
Italy 2023 1 hour 13 minutes Monza is the fastest circuit with highest average speeds
Italy 2003 1 hour 14 minutes 19 seconds Monza is the fastest circuit with highest average speeds
Italy 2005 1 hour 14 minutes 28 seconds Monza is the fastest circuit with highest average speeds
Italy 2006 1 hour 15 minutes 51 seconds Monza is the fastest circuit with highest average speeds

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix holds the record for being the shortest F1 race ever. It also holds the record for the fewest number of laps completed (2) and shortest total race distance (6.9km / 4.3 miles)

Despite torrential rain and a long postponement, the race was eventually started behind the safety car.

However, after just 2 laps it was red flagged, and it would never restart as the rain only got heavier. Controversially, F1 decided to award half points to the drivers despite there never being any green flag running. 

That was bad news for the fans who’d braved the rain for hours; due to the race being officially classified, F1 or the circuit promoters didn’t have to offer any sort of refund, despite the face the fans only saw the cars on track for 3 minutes.

The other race that’s always one of the shortest is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The race is always 305km long, but because it’s such a fast track with average speeds close to 240kph / 150mph the full distance is covered in a relatively short time.

The 2023 Italian Grand Prix was the fastest and shortst ever race at Monza, being completed in just over 1 hour and 13 minutes.

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Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport guides based on my own experience as a 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 want to learn more about racing.

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Spa 2021 was a bummer

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