Teams can use up to four drivers in one season, but they all have to possess an FIA Super Licence, must be 18 years old and meet strict performance standards.
All drivers must accumulate 40 points over a three-year period with point allocation based on which motorsport series they participated in and the level of results they achieved. If a driver qualify for a superlicence but don’t secure an F1 seat, they get a three-year grace period in which their points are still valid.
To obtain the Super Licence, drivers also have to spend at least two years in junior single-seater categories, have a valid road car driver’s licence and pass a test on the F1 sporting regulations. Also, they have to complete at least 300 km of F1 testing before they can participate at an event.
There are strict rules governing driver’s behaviour and stewards can impore various penalties if a driver commit an rule offence during a GP weekend (like jumping the start, causing an accident, blocking another driver, speeding in the pitlane etc.).
Also, drivers must use the track at all times and may not deliberately leave the track without a justifiable reason. More than one change of direction to defend a position is not allowed and if a driver moves off the racing line he may move back but must ensure that there is at least one car’s width between him and the edge of the track.
If the blame is not immediately clear to stewards, accident will be investigated after the race. The most common penalties are drive through, a five second penalty and a ten second penalty.
One ten second penalty is mandatory and it must be taken, and the other allows a driver to finish the race and take a ten second time penalty if he doesn’t pit again until the chequered flag (same goes for five second penalty).
If a driver gets all three penalties he has three laps in which to enter the pits, otherwise he may get a black flag (exclusion from the race).
If a driver gets a penalt in the last three laps of the race, he can complete the race and take a time penalty – five seconds for a five second penalty, ten seconds for an optional ten second penalty, 20 seconds for a drive trough penalty and 30 seconds for the mandatory ten second penalty.
Stewards have the power to enforce tougher penalties – drop a driver for any number of grif positions at the next race, impose time penalties, reprimand a driver, exclude him from the results or suspend him from the next race(s).
If a driver receives three reprimands over the course of the season he will automatically receive a ten place grid penalty at the current or next race, but only if two of more were for driving infringements.
Penalty points can also be imposed on a driver’s Super Licence – 12 penalty points in a 12 month petiod will result with one race suspension.
Penalties are also given for technical reasons such as using a new gearbox before the old one was used for six consecutive races or using more power unit components than is allowed by the rules.
Every unscheduled gearbox change will result with a five place grid penalty at that race. Using more power unit elements than allowed (four per driver) will also impose a penalty – 10 place grid drop for the first time fifth of any of the elements is used and a 5 place drop for all remaining fifth elements of any power unit element. Likewise, the first time a sixth of any of the element is used, a ten place grid dtop will occur and so on.
There is a new rule for 2017. to stop drivers stockpiling the power unit elements, if a driver introduces more than one of a power unit element that leads to a grid penalty, only the last element fitted can be used at the next races without further penalty.
FIA F1 2017. sporting regulations can be downloaded here.