F1 EXPLAINED: How does the Super Licence system work – and what does Sargeant need to do to qualify?
Many factors need to come together for drivers on the journey to Formula 1, with skill, timing and fortune all playing a role. But in the last few years, the FIA’s Super Licence points system has established itself as the benchmark for those climbing the ladder, and ensures that talent ultimately has the final say on anyone seeking to join the ranks of the F1 grid.
It has also recently been under the spotlight amid Williams junior Logan Sargeant’s mission to secure the required points total and step up to F1 with the Grove team next season, with this weekend’s F2 finale in Abu Dhabi central to the move (more on that later).
In order to earn the FIA Super Licence required to compete in F1, drivers need to meet a range of fundamental criteria. Firstly, they must be the holder of a current FIA International Grade A licence, be the holder of a valid driving licence and be at least 18 years old at the start of their first F1 competition.
Beyond this, the driver will be tasked with successfully completing a knowledge test on the International Sporting Code and F1 Sporting Regulations, while they are required to have completed at least 80% of two separate seasons from a range of certified single-seater championships (see below for the full table).
Last but not least, drivers need to have accumulated at least 40 points on their path to F1 (again, see the table below), with the FIA considering either the three-year period preceding the year of application, or the two-year period preceding the year of application, in addition to the points accumulated in the year of application.
Points awarded per championship classification
|FIA Formula 2||40||40||40|
|FIA Formula 3||30||25||20|
|FIA Formula E Championship||30||25||20|
|FIA WEC (LMP1 only)||30||24||20|
|Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine||25||20||15|
|FIA WEC – LMP2||20||16||12|
|Japanese Super GT500||20||16||12|
|F3 Regional Asian||18||14||12|
|Formula Regional Americas||18||14||12|
|Formula Regional Japanese||18||14||12|
|IMSA Prototype (excluding LMP3)*||18||14||10|
|Japanese Super Formula Lights||15||12||10|
|National FIA Formula 4 Championships||12||10||7|
|FIA WEC – LMGT-Pro||12||10||7|
|Asian/ELMS Prototype (excluding LMP3)||10||8||6|
|FIA WEC – LMGT-Am||10||8||6|
|National F3 Championships||10||7||5|
|Indy Pro 2000*||10||7||5|
|Toyota Racing Series New Zealand||10||7||5|
|International GT3 Series||6||4||2|
|FIA karting World Championships in Senior Cat.||4||3||2|
|FIA karting Continental Championships in Senior Cat.||3||2||1|
|FIA karting World Championships in Junior Cat.||3||2||1|
|FIA karting Continental Championships in Junior Cat.||2||1||0|
*Subject to all (road course) rounds being held on FIA homologated tracks.
The full breakdown of points per championship from P1 through to P10 can be viewed in the FIA International Sporting Code.
A tweak to the code brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic now details that should the three-year period preceding the year of application include 2020 or 2021, the FIA will consider the highest number of points accumulated in any three of the four years immediately preceding the year of application. A similar situation applies for the aforementioned two-year period.
Meanwhile, provided a driver has already held a Super Licence for any of the previous three years – i.e. an F1 returnee – they will be considered for a renewal “at the sole determination of the FIA to have recently and consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars”.
Leading on from the above, the F1 team concerned must also show that the driver has completed at least 300km in a representative F1 car “consistently at racing speeds” over no more than two days and completed not more than 180 days prior to the application, either certified by the ASN of the country in which the test took place or during an F1 World Championship event.
In addition to the points table above, there are a few ways in which would-be F1 drivers can add to their Super Licence tallies, covering clean driving in their primary championships, the prestigious Macau Grand Prix (F3 World Cup) and trouble-free practice runs at Grand Prix weekends:
For the FIA championships where a penalty points system is in place, any driver having competed in the whole championship without being given any penalty points will be granted an additional two points on top of their sporting results.
The winner of the FIA F3 World Cup will be granted an additional five points on top of their sporting result.
A Free Practice Only Super Licence holder will be granted one additional point per FIA Formula One World Championship event following successful completion of at least 100km during a free practice session, provided that no penalty points were imposed. A maximum total of 10 such additional points shall be considered for a Super Licence application.
What does this mean for Logan Sargeant?
That brings us back to Sargeant, the 21-year-old American who is on the verge of an F1 promotion after confirmation that Williams will give him a seat alongside Alex Albon in 2023 – providing he ticks the final Super Licence boxes and hits that magic 40 points mark.
With 29 Super Licence points earned across recent seasons in F3 and F2, and F1 practice runs, Sargeant needs to finish at least fifth in the 2022 F2 drivers’ standings (worth 20 points), or sixth (worth 10 points), provided he receives the two additional points available for completing the campaign without receiving any penalty points.
Sargeant is currently third in the standings (worth 40 points alone), behind Aston Martin-backed champion Felipe Drugovich and Alfa Romeo-affiliated Theo Pourchaire, having won the Feature Races at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring, along with podium finishes in Barcelona and Baku.
His Super Licence tally was boosted by two points after he hit the required 100km of running in practice appearances with Williams in the United States and Brazil – it would have been three had he completed one more lap during an FP1 outing in Mexico.