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Know your... F1 race start

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F1 race start!
When you’re trackside at the 2011 Indian GP, you really don’t want to be wondering what the heck is going on. Especially at the start of the race. So here’s what you need to know about Formula 1’s race start procedure.

THIRTY MINUTES TO GO:
All drivers must leave the pitlane and make their way around the circuit once before taking their place on the starting grid. If they like, drivers can also opt to do additional recce laps around the circuit, in which case they need to re-enter the pitlane and go out on track. They’re not allowed on to the start-finish grid at this point.

 

FIFTEEN MINUTES TO GO:
If a driver is still in the pitlane 15 minutes before the start of a race, that’s where he has to start the race from. This is a pitlane start as opposed to starting from the grid itself.

TEN MINUTES TO GO:
With only ten minutes before the race starts, the grid is cleared of everyone. The only people allowed to remain there are the drivers (of course!), the technical crew and the race officials.

THREE MINUTES TO GO:
All cars have to have their wheels fitted onto them. Any team that fails to carry this out receives a ten-second time penalty at once.

ONE MINUTE TO GO:
All cars must have their engines running at this point and the grid is also cleared of everyone. That is the technical crew from each team has to leave the grid with at least 15 seconds to spare.

FIVE GREEN LIGHTS COME ON:
This signals the start of the formation lap. Cars are not allowed to practice a race start on this lap. Overtaking is also not allowed, unless there is something wrong with the car ahead of you, which has caused it to slow down. Driver of a passed car is allowed to retake his position. If there is a problem on the grid before the green lights come on, a driver is required to raise his hand and once the rest of the field leaves, marshals will push the car into the pits. If a driver is still on the grid when the other cars have left for the formation lap, he will start the race at the back of the grid.

RED LIGHTS COME ON:
Once all the cars have finished the formation lap, they must take their grid positions. Once each car is safely in its position, the five red lights will come on at one second intervals.

FIVE RED LIGHTS GO OFF!
This signals the start of the race and the cars all speed away!