What is the points system in F1 as title race enters final stages?

Jake Nichol November 19, 2021
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Just 14 points separate Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in the F1 drivers’ standings, but what is the points system used in F1? How many points are left up for grabs?

With three rounds remaining in the 2021 season, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are set to continue their battle in Qatar this weekend.

A Verstappen win would take his lead to over 20 points, with just two races left, while Hamilton could head to Saudi Arabia in the points lead, should results go his way.

Verstappen sits on 332.5, and Hamilton 318.5 after the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

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There are 78 points left up for grabs in the 2021 season for a single driver, but how does the F1 points system work? Who gets the points and who has the most ever in a single season?

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F1 points system explained

The current points system used in F1 has been in place since 2010, with only a couple of minor modifications since.

In 2010, the points were expanded so that drivers who finish P1-P10 are rewarded for their efforts.

In the previous system, only the top eight received points, and before that it was only the top six.

The 2010 revamp also gave a massive boost to the number of points awarded to drivers.

The number more than doubled for a win from 2009.

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F1 points system

  • 1st place – 25 points – previously 10
  • 2nd place – 18 points – previously 8
  • 3rd place – 15 points – previously 6
  • 4th place – 12 points – previously 5
  • 5th place – 10 points – previously 4
  • 6th place – 8 points – previously 3
  • 7th place – 6 points – previously 2
  • 8th place – 4 points – previously 1
  • 9th place – 2 points
  • 10th place – 1 point

In 2019, the point for setting the fastest lap was re-introduced. Drivers must finish in the top 10 to be eligible.

In addition, in 2021, the sprint qualifying races added even more points to a race weekend.

The top three receive points on a 3-2-1 scale.

It means that the maximum number of points available to a driver on a sprint weekend is 29, and 26 on non-sprint weekends.

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What is the record number of points in a season?

Using the current points system for every season, Hamilton holds the record for the most points scored in an F1 season.

In 2019, he posted 413 points from 21 races, including 11 wins and seven fastest laps.

A year before, he also won 11 races from 21, but recorded 408 points.

He is the only driver to break through the 400 point barrier in F1 history.

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Sebastian Vettel clocked up 392 in 2011, and would have had 397 with fastest lap points.

Hamilton also holds the record for the most points scored in F1 without winning the title.

In 2016, he hauled 380 points, but Nico Rosberg beat him by five to take the title from the #44 Mercedes.

If Michael Schumacher’s crushing 2004 season is converted to the current F1 points system, he would still not eclipse Hamilton.

That year, he won 13 of 18 races and finished second in two others.

If converted to the modern system, his haul of 148 points would be bumped up to 375, including eight eligible fastest laps.

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.