What are the rules regarding the change of drivers in F1?

Formula 1 drivers during a season go through a lot and drivers are often replaced. Here is a look at the rules regarding the change of drivers in F1.

Athletes in Formula 1 are among the richest and most dedicated in the world; during race weekends, they frequently put in over 15 hours a day at the track. Training, exams, meetings, and appearances in the media and for commercial purposes are all part of their daily schedule. 

During a race weekend, every driver does their hardest to be at every event. A replacement driver must be present when a driver is unable to attend practice, qualifying, a sprint session or even a race. These are the regulations that govern Formula 1 driver substitutions. 

Rules Overview 


One of the most significant regulations pertaining to driver substitutions in Formula 1 is the cap of four drivers per team for all races, sprints, and qualifying sessions throughout the season. Practice sessions are open to other drivers as well. 

Because of the four-driver limit, teams only deploy two primary drivers in almost all practice sessions and races throughout the season, saving one or two backup drivers for dire situations. This is not the case with certain other racing series, where a single car can be driven by multiple drivers in different events during the season. Because there can only be four drivers in Formula 1, the main drivers are usually not changed in the middle of the season, even when they perform poorly. 

As long as they are approved by the stewards prior to the start of the session, drivers may switch at any moment. In exceptional cases, the stewards may also grant exceptions, allowing a team to deploy more than four drivers overall. 

After the vehicle has completed its preliminary scrutineering test, the replacement driver is required to use the same tyres, gearbox, and engine throughout the race. 

Practice Sessions 

Teams are free to use as many drivers as they wish during practice as long as they adhere to a few rules, which are less restrictive than during actual sessions. A Super Licence or a Free Practice Super Licence is required for any driver taking part in practice. Teams are required to provide the stewards at least 24 hours notice before substituting drivers who are not among their top four. 

In actuality, replacement drivers are not permitted to alter the previous driver’s tyres, engine, or competition number. A team may use no more than two drivers in a single practice session. 

Driver Development Rule 

Teams in Formula 1 are mandated by rule to use a development driver in each of their two cars for at least one session per season. During their careers, these drivers are not allowed to participate in more than two Formula 1 races. Teams are required to provide the FIA at least seven days’ notice before substituting drivers who are still learning. 

A team is required to provide a backup driver who hasn’t participated in a Formula 1 race in the previous two years an additional practice session if they utilise such a driver in any race or session, including practice. This session can be held any time between two weeks before the race and the end of the season, with the goal of assisting young drivers in gaining as much seat time as possible in a Formula 1 car. But the practice session needs to happen at a track other than Formula 1 and outside of the regular race weekends.


In summary, Formula 1 drivers must strike a balance between the demands of competition and the requirement for flexibility within a strictly controlled framework for substitutes. The sport guarantees continuity and presents chances for up-and-coming talent, with a maximum of four drivers per team and strict regulations controlling practice sessions and driver development. These sportsmen represent the height of professionalism in the motorsports industry because of their unwavering passion and dedication, even in the face of extreme pressure during race weekends. Formula 1 is evidence of the exceptional talent and tenacity of its competitors.

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