Prima di ogni Gran Premio, i team e i piloti sono chiamati a rispettare una precisa procedura di partenza, molto rigorosa. Questa prende il via 30 minuti prima del giro di formazione, quando viene aperta la pit-lane. A questo punto, i piloti sono liberi di completare un giro di ricognizione del circuito, prima di andare a schierarsi sulla griglia di partenza. Tuttavia, se il pilota desidera completare più giri prima di andare a schierarsi, deve forzatamente passare attraverso la corsia box e non sul rettilineo di partenza.
La pitlane chiude 15 minuti prima del giro di formazione. Tutti i conducenti ancora in corsia box, a questo punto, dovranno prendere parte alla gara partendo da lì, perdendo dunque la propria posizione conquistata in qualifica.
Dieci minuti prima del via la griglia deve essere sgomberata da ospiti e giornalisti. Solamente il personale addetto alle vetture deve rimanere sulla griglia. A tre minuti dal via tutte le vetture devono avere le ruote montate (se ciò non accade, il pilota riceverà 10 secondi di penalità).
Ad un minuto dal via, i motori delle monoposto devono essere accesi. Tutto il personale deve poi trasferirsi a bordo pista almeno 15 secondi prima che le luci verdi diano il via al giro di formazione.
Qualsiasi pilota che accusa un problema immediatamente prima della luce verde, deve alzare le braccia per indicare il problema. Una volta che il resto del gruppo si sarà allontanato, i marshall interverranno per spostare l’auto in corsia box.
Durante il giro di formazione non sono ammesse prove di partenza. Il sorpasso è inoltre vietato, eccezion fatta per superare una vettura che rallenta a causa di un problema tecnico. Se il problema viene risolto nel corso del giro di formazione, il pilota che era stato sorpassato può andare a riprendersi la propria posizione.
Tuttavia, qualsiasi pilota che rimane fermo sulla griglia di partenza e viene sfilato da tutte le altre vetture, anche se riuscisse a ripartire, dovrà poi schierarsi per ultimo.
Una volta che tutte le auto hanno preso posto sulla loro piazzola sulla griglia di partenza, al termine del giro di formazione cinque luci rosse apparirano in sequenza ad intervalli di un secondo. Queste luci rosse si spengono per segnalare l’inizio della gara. Se un pilota ha un problema sulla griglia immediatamente prima dell’inizio della corsa, deve alzare le braccia e il direttore di gara interrompe la partenza. A quel punto, sarà necessario fare un nuovo giro di formazione, che conterà per la distanza di gara.
Le uniche eccezioni a questa procedura sono collegate alle condizioni climatiche. Se inizia a piovere tre minuti prima della partenza, viene ritardato l’avvio della corsa e si ritorna ad un punto di 10 minuti al via, per consentire ai team di cambiare gli pneumatici e le regolazioni sulla vettura.
Se le condizioni meteo sono particolarmente avverse, il Direttore di Gara può scegliere di ritardare l’inizio della corsa e riprendere la procedura di partenza solo quando le condizioni sono migliorate. In alternativa, si può decidere di far partire la gara in regime di Safety Car.
Estratto del regolamento FIA sulle procedure di partenza.
38) STARTING PROCEDURE
38.1 30 minutes before the start of the formation lap the pit exit will be opened and cars will be permitted to leave the pit lane to cover a reconnaissance lap. At the end of this lap they will stop on the grid in starting order with their engines stopped.
Should they wish to cover more than one reconnaissance lap, this must be done by driving down the pit lane at greatly reduced speed between each of the laps.
Any car which does not complete a reconnaissance lap and reach the grid under its own power will not be permitted to start the race from the grid.
38.2 17 minutes before the start of the formation lap, a warning signal will be given indicating that the end of the pit lane will be closed in two minutes.
15 minutes before the start of the formation lap the end of the pit lane will be closed and a second warning signal will be given. Any car which is still in the pit lane can start from the end of the pit lane provided it got there under its own power. If more than one car is affected they must line up in the order in which they qualified. However, any car reaching the end of the pit lane after the five minute signal must start behind any car already at the pit exit.
All such cars may then join the race once the whole field has passed the end of the pit lane for the first time after the start.
38.3 The approach of the start will be announced by signals shown ten minutes, five minutes, three minutes, one minute and fifteen seconds before the start of the formation lap, each of which will be accompanied by an audible warning.
When the ten minute signal is shown, everybody except drivers, officials and team technical staff must leave the grid.
38.4 When the three minute signal is shown all cars on the grid must have their wheels fitted, after this signal wheels may only be removed in the pit lane or on the grid during a race suspension.
A penalty under Article 16.3(b) will be imposed on any driver whose car did not have all its wheels fully fitted at the three minute signal.
38.5 When the one minute signal is shown, engines should be started and all team personnel must leave the grid by the time the 15 second signal is given taking all equipment with them. If any driver needs assistance after the 15 second signal he must raise his arm and, when the remainder of the cars able to do so have left the grid, marshals will be instructed to push the car into the pit lane. In this case, marshals with yellow flags will stand beside any car (or cars) concerned to warn drivers behind.
38.6 When the green lights are illuminated, the cars will begin the formation lap with the pole position driver leading. When leaving the grid all drivers must respect the pit lane speed limit until they pass pole position. Marshals will be instructed to push any car (or cars) which remain on the grid into the pit lane by the fastest route immediately after cars able to do so have left the grid. Any driver being pushed from the grid may not attempt to start the car and must follow the instructions of the marshals.
38.7 During the formation lap practice starts are forbidden and the formation must be kept as tight as possible.
38.8 Overtaking during the formation lap is only permitted if a car is delayed and cars behind cannot avoid passing it without unduly delaying the remainder of the field. In this case, drivers may only overtake to re-establish the original starting order. Any driver delayed in this way, and who is unable to re-establish the original starting order before he reaches the first safety car line, must enter the pit lane and start from the end of the pit lane as specified in Article 38.2.
Any driver who is delayed leaving the grid may not overtake another moving car if he was stationary after the remainder of the cars had crossed the Line, and must start the race from the back of the grid. If more than one driver is affected, they must form up at the back of the grid in the order they left to complete the formation lap. If the Line is not situated in front of pole position, and for the purposes of this Article as well as Articles 40.14 and 42.6, it will be deemed to be a white line one metre in front of pole position.
Either of the penalties under Articles 16.3a) or b) will be imposed on any driver who, in the opinion of the Stewards, unnecessarily overtook another car during the formation lap.
38.9 When the cars come back to the grid at the end of the formation lap, they will stop on their respective grid positions, keeping their engines running. There will be a standing start, the signal being given by means of lights activated by the permanent starter.
Once all the cars have come to a halt the five second light will appear followed by the four, three, two and one second lights. At any time after the one second light appears, the race will be started by extinguishing all red lights.
38.10 Unless specifically authorised by the FIA safety delegate, during the start of a race the pit wall must be kept free of all persons with the exception of two people from each team, officials and fire marshals.
38.11 If, after returning to the starting grid at the end of the formation lap a problem arises, the following procedures shall apply :
a) If a car develops a problem that could endanger the start the driver must immediately raise his hands above his head and the marshal responsible for that row must immediately wave a yellow flag. If the race director decides the start should be delayed the green lights will be illuminated two seconds after the abort lights are switched on, a board saying “EXTRA FORMATION LAP” will be displayed and all cars able to do so must complete a further formation lap whilst the car which developed the problem is moved into the pit lane.
When leaving the grid to complete the extra formation lap all drivers must respect the pit lane speed limit until they pass pole position.
The team may then attempt to rectify the problem and, if successful, the car may then start from the end of the pit lane. Should there be more than one car involved their starting order will be determined by the order in which they reached the end of the pit lane.
Every time this happens the race will be shortened by one lap.
b) If any other problem arises, and if the race director decides the start should be delayed, the following procedures shall apply :
1) If the race has not been started, the abort lights will be switched on, a board saying “DELAYED START” will be displayed, all engines will be stopped and the new formation lap will start five minutes later with the race distance reduced by one lap. The next signal will be the three minute signal.
Tyre changing on the grid is not permitted during such a delay.
Every time this happens the race will be shortened by one lap.
2) If the race has been started the marshals alongside the grid will wave their yellow flags to inform the drivers that a car is stationary on the grid.
3) If, after the start, a car is immobilised on the starting grid, it shall be the duty of the marshals to push it into the pit lane by the fastest route. Any driver being pushed from the grid may not attempt to start the car.
4) Once the car is in the pit lane his mechanics may attempt to start it, if successful the driver may rejoin the race. The driver and mechanics must follow the instructions of the track marshals at all times during such a procedure.
38.12 Should Article 38.11 apply, the race will nevertheless count for the Championship no matter how often the procedure is repeated, or how much the race is shortened as a result.
38.13 Either of the penalties under Articles 16.3a) or b) will be imposed for a false start judged using an FIA supplied transponder which must be fitted to the car as specified.
38.14 Only in the following cases will any variation in the start procedure be allowed :
a) If it starts to rain after the five minute signal but before the race is started and, in the opinion of the race director teams should be given the opportunity to change tyres, the abort lights will be shown on the Line and the starting procedure will begin again at the ten minute point.
b) If the start of the race is imminent and, in the opinion of the race director, the volume of water on the track is such that it cannot be negotiated safely even on wet-weather tyres, the abort lights will be shown on the Line and information concerning the likely delay will be displayed on the timing monitors. Once the start time is known at least ten minutes warning will be given.
c) If the race is started behind the safety car, Article 40.16 will apply.
38.15 The stewards may use any video or electronic means to assist them in reaching a decision. The stewards may overrule judges of fact. A breach of the provisions of the Code or these Sporting Regulations relating to the starting procedure, may result in the exclusion of the car and driver concerned from the Event.