Formula One - Drivers


See also: List of Formula One drivers and List of Formula One World Drivers' Champions

Every team in Formula One must run two cars in every session in a Grand Prix weekend, and every team may use up to four drivers in a season. A team may also run two additional drivers in Free Practice sessions, which are often used to test potential new drivers for a career as a Formula One driver or gain experienced drivers to evaluate the car. Most modern drivers are contracted for at least the duration of a season, with driver changes taking place in between season, in comparison to early years where drivers often competed at an ad hoc basis from race to race. Each competitor must be in the possession of a FIA Super Licence to compete in a Grand Prix, which is issued to drivers who have met the criteria of success in junior motorsport categories and having achieved 300 kilometres (190 mi) of running in a Formula One car. Drivers may also be issued a Super License by the World Motor Sport Council if they fail to meet the criteria. Teams also contract test and reserve drivers, to stand in for regular drivers when necessary and develop the teams car; although with the reduction on testing the reserve drivers role mainly takes places on a simulator. Although most drivers earn their seat on ability, commercial considerations also come into play with teams having to satisfy sponsors and financial demands.

Each driver is assigned a number for the season. The previous season's champion is designated number one, with his team-mate given number 2. Numbers are then assigned in the previous season's constructors' championship order, with the exception of the number 13, unused since 1976. Historically, before the 1996 Formula One season, teams would hold their race numbers from season to season, with only the world champion and their team-mate changing numbers to accommodate the number one. The numbers were based upon the constructors standings from the 1973 season, which gave way to numbers being associated with a team, such as Ferrari's 27 and 28. If the reigning driver's champion retires from Formula One, leading driver has the option of using the number 0 or 2; 0 was used in 1993 and 1994; with the retirement of Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost, Damon Hill used zero. Jody Scheckter also used the number zero for two races toward the end of the 1973 season, though it is unclear why.

A total of 32 separate drivers have won the world championship, with Michael Schumacher holding the record for most championships with seven, as well as holding the race wins and pole position records. Juan Manuel Fangio has won the next most, with five championships won during the 1950s, as well as having won the greatest percentage of wins, with 24 out of 52 entries. Jochen Rindt is the only posthumous World Champion, after his points total was not overhauled despite his fatal accident at the 1970 Italian Grand Prix. Drivers from the United Kingdom have been the most successful in the sport, with 14 championships from 10 drivers, and 214 wins from 19 drivers.

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