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Pit-Lane Start in F1: Explaining the Conditions & the Rules

Published 09/12/2021, 4:22 PM EDT

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Pit lane starts have been a frequent sight in the 2021 F1 season. In Spa, Kimi Raikkonen accompanied Sergio Perez in the pit lane for the two-lap race. More recently, Pierre Gasly will be starting the Italian GP from the pit lane. But why is this significant to the race?

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More often than not, cars that undergo some major changes or repairs start Sunday’s race on the pit lane. There are more specific conditions that dictate when a driver will have to start his race from the pitlane.


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Conditions for a pit lane start

The FIA has laid out various circumstances that require a start at the pit lane.

The FIA has strict regulations surrounding the use of engines and gearboxes. As a result, the FIA mandates that if a car has changed its PU or gearbox, it will start from the pit lane.


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Another condition lies in article 23. The rule states that if a driver has changed their PU after the start of the third free practice session, they will start the remaining procedures from the pit lane.

Additionally, the FIA regulates that 30 minutes before the formation lap on Sunday, the pit lane will be closed and a second warning is given. If there is an F1 driver remaining in the pit lane, they can start from the end of the pit lane if the car got there “under its own power.” 

The race starts too, could call for a pit lane start. By the time the 15-second signal is given, teams must clear the track of all personnel and equipment. However, if any team or equipment remain on the grid after the signal, the driver of the car concerned will have to start from the pit lane.

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Further, in highlighting the rules about the formation lap, opportunities for a pit lane start come up. If a driver has a delayed formation lap and cannot make it to the starting order; the driver must enter the pit lane and start from the end of the lane.

There are many more situations listed by the FIA; to summarise, the basic premise involves either a change in the chassis or a driver not being able to make it to the start. If such an incident takes place, the driver starts the race from the pit lane.


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F1 procedures for a pit lane start

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Cars starting from the pit lane can join the formation lap once the entire grid has passed the end of the pit lane. After that, the driver must return to the pit lane after the safety car is in the pits.

The driver will then start the race from the pit lane exit. Any other car entering the pit lane after the formation lap will also start from the exit in the order they arrive in.


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To summarise, if a driver or team has made any changes that don’t come under the parc ferme rules, they will start from the pit lane.

Watch this story: F1 Drivers Fighting on Track.



Shreya Sanjeev

795 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.