F1 race time: How long is a Formula 1 Grand Prix?

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen lines on the grid for a restart. Australia April 2023

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton line up on the front row on the grid for a restart. Australia April 2023

Formula 1 Grands Prix are set at a certain distance and race time which, given their average speeds, usually work out at anywhere between 80 to 100 minutes long. But what does the rulebook actually say?

While the world of endurance racing has events that are, on the short side, six hours in duration, a Formula 1 Grand Prix usually works out at about 90 minutes. But why are all the races planned out in such a way to ensure a ‘standard’ race duration?

What is the length of an F1 race?

The Formula 1 rulebook states that races must take place over 305km (190 miles) minimum. To calculate the number of laps for each F1 race, organisers must work out how many laps will be required around a specific circuit to cover this number.

For example, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium is 7km long, therefore 43.5 laps will be required to reach the required 305km. This is rounded up to 44 laps as it is impossible to have a race consisting of half a lap!

In a standard dry race of a distance of 305 kilometres, the average race duration is around 90 minutes – this number obviously goes up in the event of incidents that lower the average speed, such as Safety Car interventions, or if there is rain. The higher the average speed, the shorter the race lasts in terms of minutes.

Are there any exceptions to this rule?

The only exception in the current race format is the Monaco Grand Prix which takes place around the streets of the principality. Due to a combination of low-speed laps, high concentration requirements (drivers are required to change gear approximately 50 times per lap), and the regular intervention of a Safety Car, it is the only race which doesn’t run the 305km distance. Instead, the course comprises a 260km/ 78 lap race. The low average speeds still usually end up in near-two-hour races.

Below is a breakdown of the number of laps in every F1 Grand Prix:

– Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium 44 Laps
– Jeddah Corniche, Saudi Arabia 50 Laps
– Las Vegas, USA 50 Laps
– Baku City Circuit, Azerbaijan 51 Laps
– Silverstone, Great Britain 51 Laps
– Monza, Italy, 53 Laps
– Suzuka, Japan 53 Laps
– Circuit of the Americas, USA 56 Laps
– Sakhir, Bahrain 57 Laps
– Miami Autodrome, USA 57 Laps
– Lusail, Qatar 57 Laps
– Albert Park, Australia 58 Laps
– Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi 58 Laps
– Marina Bay, Singapore 61 Laps
– Imola, Italy 63 Laps
– Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain 66 Laps
– Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Canada 70 Laps
– Hungaroring, Hungary 70 Laps
– Red Bull Ring, Austria 71 Laps
– Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico 71 Laps
– Interlagos, Brazil 71 Laps
– Zandvoort, Netherlands 72 Laps
– Circuit de Monaco, Monaco 78 Laps

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How long do F1 races last?

Grand Prix races usually last approximately 90 minutes and must not exceed two hours in length, but the time can vary given the average speed per lap differs across the 23 venues on the season’s calendar. If two hours is reached and the race has failed to complete, it will be ended at the end of the next full lap. The only exception is if the race has been halted by a red flag, in which case the total time including the red flag stoppage must not exceed three hours. 

What is the shortest Grand Prix race?

In 2021, the Belgian Grand Prix broke a 30-year record to become the shortest-ever Formula 1 race. Held in treacherous conditions, no actual racing took place with just three laps completed under Safety Car conditions to declare a result and only one of the laps counting towards official classification under F1’s current rules.

Max Verstappen won the race after just one lap, completing in a time of three minutes and 27.071 seconds. Only half the points were awarded. 

Other shorter F1 races

There are only four other F1 races recorded that have been won in less than an hour – the 1991 Australian Grand Prix held at the Adelaide Street Circuit is one of them.

The race lasted only 24 minutes and began in heavy rain, with Ayrton Senna in pole position. Due to the horrendous conditions, it wasn’t long before drivers began to lose control of their cars, including Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet.

Senna indicated for the race to be stopped and it was halted after just 16 laps/ 53 kilometres. Senna’s win, despite scoring only half points, sealed McLaren’s status as 1991 Constructors’ Champions. 

The 1975 Spanish Grand Prix was also abandoned on tragic circumstances after just 29 laps. On lap 26, Rolf Stommelen’s car left the circuit, fatally injuring four spectators. Stommelen survived the crash with only a few broken bones. Just four months later, the Austrian Grand Prix came to a halt in poor weather conditions with Vittorio Brambilla recording his only Grand Prix win in just 58 minutes.

The fourth race to finish in less than one hour was the Malaysian Grand Prix which was red-flagged after 55 minutes due to heavy rain and not restarted.

The 2003 Italian Grand Prix is the shortest F1 race to reach full distance on record. Michael Schumacher famously took the win in just one hour and 14 minutes with an average speed of 247.586km/hour. This remains the fastest race in history. 

What is the longest F1 race?

The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix is one of the longest F1 races on record, featuring six safety car stints and a long red flag period. Jenson Button took the title in four hours and four minutes, completing the race at an average speed of just 74.864km/hour – the slowest speed a Grand Prix has ever been won. 

In terms of distance, the 1951 French Grand Prix was the longest Grand Prix ever to run over a distance of 601.832km. It was the first of three races won by drivers sharing a single car. Luigi Fagioli and Juan Manuel Fangio collectively raced 77 laps of the Reims-Gueux circuit to win for Alfa Romeo.

The longest Grand Prix race to feature no stoppages was the 1954 German Grand Prix, during which Joan Manuel Fangio completed 22 laps of the Nurburgring in three hours and 45 minutes.

The 2017 Singapore Grand Prix was the longest race this millennium without a red flag. The race ran 58 of the scheduled 61 laps before the 2-hour time limit was reached. Lewis Hamilton was declared the winner after two hours and three minutes. 

F1 race times: What is the start time of each F1 2023 race?

The fact that Formula 1 covers various continents during a season means that the race start times vary due to the differing time zones.

Conditions must also be taken into account with start times, for example when a race is to be contested under the floodlights at night rather than in daylight.

Here are the UK start times for all races that make up the F1 2023 campaign…

5 March – Bahrain Grand Prix – 1500
19 March – Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – 1700
2 April – Australian Grand Prix – 0600
30 April – Azerbaijan Grand Prix – 1200
7 May – Miami Grand Prix – 2030
21 May – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – 1400
28 May – Monaco Grand Prix – 1400
4 June – Spanish Grand Prix – 1400
18 June – Canadian Grand Prix – 1900
2 July – Austrian Grand Prix – 1400
9 July – British Grand Prix – 1500
23 July – Hungarian Grand Prix – 1400
30 July – Belgian Grand Prix – 1400
27 August – Dutch Grand Prix – 1400
3 September – Italian Grand Prix – 1400
17 September – Singapore Grand Prix – 1300
24 September – Japanese Grand Prix – 0600
8 October – Qatar Grand Prix – 1500
22 October – United States Grand Prix – 2000
29 October – Mexican Grand Prix – 2000
5 November – Sao Paulo Grand Prix – 1700
18 November – Las Vegas Grand Prix – 0600
26 November – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – 1300