The beginner’s guide to… the Formula 1 Super Licence
In the formative years of Formula 1, just about anyone who could afford to buy themselves a car could compete in the sport, but nowadays any driver wishing to race must hold an FIA Super Licence. In our latest pre-season explainer, we run through what the licence is and what’s needed to secure one...
What is an F1 Super Licence?
Any driver who wishes to compete in F1 needs to obtain a Super Licence. This is a qualification issued by the sport’s governing body, the FIA, based on various factors (more about those in the sections below).
A wide range of licences are issued by the FIA for their sanctioned competitions, which cover karting, endurance racing, single-seaters and much more – but F1 necessitates the top-level Super Licence.
To secure the licence, drivers must tick off some fundamental requirements as detailed in the International Sporting Code – an overarching set of rules for all FIA-governed motorsport events.
How do drivers get a Super Licence?
Firstly, drivers 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 (also see below for the table), 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|
|Japanese Super Formula||25||20||15|
|FIA WEC – LMP2||20||16||12|
|Japanese Super GT500||20||16||12|
|Formula Regional Middle East||18||14||12|
|Formula Regional Americas||18||14||12|
|Formula Regional Japanese||18||14||12|
|Formula Regional Oceania||18||14||12|
|Formula Regional Indian||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.
What about drivers returning to F1?
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 (sporting authority) of the country in which the test took place or during an F1 World Championship event.
How else can drivers earn points?
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.
Is there a recent example for reference?
The man above, Logan Sargeant, will step up to F1 with Williams this year, but only after he hit the 40-point Super Licence milestone through a combination of his performances in F2 and several F1 practice runs in 2022.
Sargeant found himself on 29 Super Licence points heading into last year’s F2 finale in Abu Dhabi, taking into account his previous F3 efforts, along with bonus points for hitting the required 100km of running during FP1 outings for Williams in the United States and Brazil.
Despite the added pressure of the weekend, Sargeant grabbed another point from one more FP1 run at the Yas Marina Circuit, before securing P4 in the F2 drivers’ standings and bagging 30 points, plus two more for receiving no penalties across the F2 season – meaning he ultimately eased past his target.
Check out a host of other beginner’s guides and explainers ahead of the 2023 campaign – including a breakdown of the weekend format and how the calendar is put together – in our pre-season preview area.