The FIA has confirmed it has made a series of changes to the criteria needed for aspiring drivers to qualify for the Super License required to compete in Formula 1.
The sport’s governing body announced tougher criteria ahead of the 2015 season following Scuderia Toro Rosso’s signing of 17-year-old racer Max Verstappen, who had contested just one season in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship before making the leap to Formula 1.
These changes ruled that, in future, all new Formula 1 drivers must be at least 18 years of age, hold a valid driving license, and have a knowledge of Formula 1’s sporting regulations.
In addition, they will be required to have at least two years of racing experience in junior categories, where their achievements will be rated on a results-based points system determined by the FIA.
Drivers had to achieve at least 40 qualification points, which they could earn based on their performances over the preceding three years in a number of FIA-recognised racing championships.
The initial proposal attracted immediate criticism for what many believed was an unfair favoritism being given to FIA-sanctioned championships over series’ which had FIA recognition. An example was that a driver who won the F3 European Championship would qualify for a Super License, while the winner of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series – which runs cars running considerably more downforce and power – would not qualify.
An analysis of the original points’ system also showed that – were the points’ system hypothetically applied retrospectively – the majority of today’s Formula 1 drivers would not even qualify for a Super License.
The revised system will still allow the overall winner of the GP2 Series, European Formula 3, IndyCar Series and FIA World Endurance Championship (LMP1 only) to qualify for a Super License. The addition to this list will be the FIA Formula E championship, while the still-to-be-launched Formula 2 championship is also on the list.
The criticism that the model still favours FIA-sanctioned series’ remains – although the IndyCar Series is a noticeable exception – in that the winner of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series (35 points) would not automatically qualify.
Other championships that continue to qualify for Super License points are the GP3 Series (30 points) and the Japanese Super Formula (25), whose allocations remain unchanged.
New to the list are the World Touring Car Championship, DTM and Indy Lights series’, which will all give 15 points to the title-winner.
National Formula 4 and Formula 3 categories, Formula Renault EuroCup, ALPS or NEC and CIK-FIA karting championships are the others recognised on the governing body’s list, and they will qualify for a maximum of 10 points.
These changes will come into effect in time for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
Image via Scuderia Toro Rosso
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