I recently told you about the journey to F1 and what you’ll need to do if you want to have any chances of making it to the pinnacle of motorsports. The requirements can be narrowed to one simple license – the FIA Super Licence. You might wonder what this is, why F1 drivers need it, and why it’s spelled “Licence” and not “License”.
Well, the FIA Super Licence is to F1 drivers what a driver’s license is to city driving. Before drivers can be brought up to F1, they must have this license. Getting one is extremely difficult because you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and have accumulated at least 40 Super Licence points (more on that below) in your last 3 years of racing. You’ll also have to pass a theory test by the FIA, but that’s the easiest part.
As I mentioned above, the official name of the license is “FIA Super Licence”. It’s spelled that way because the FIA uses European spelling for their certifications. As I explain below, you’ll need to rise through the ranks of numerous motorsport disciplines in order to obtain the Super Licence. Here’s the board of how the Super Licence points are given out. You can also find the complete list on Wikipedia.
Do I need an FIA Super Licence For Karting?
Since I’m more likely to be a professional karting driver rather than an F1 driver, and most of you are here for karting anyways, so this raises the question of whether an FIA Super Licence is needed for karting.
The answer is no. You don’t need the Super Licence to participate in official karting championships. When it comes to renting out go-karts, you won’t even need a driver’s license, so you don’t need to worry about obtaining a Super Licence.
In fact, if you take part in an official CIK-FIA karting championship and you place higher than 5th place, you can obtain some points for the Super Licence. However, if you’re only participating in karting championships, you won’t be able to accumulate enough points for the Super Licence.
That being said, while the Super Licence isn’t necessary for karting, if you want to be on the grid of a CIK national or international championship, you’ll need a karting license. You might even need one for regional championships!
A karting license is issued by the national karting federations. For national championships, you’ll need a national license which can be valid for as little as a day to as long as a year. Obviously, you’ll need an international license for international ones given out by the “International Karting Licences for Drivers & Code of Driving Conduct”.
When it comes to international karting licenses, there are four grades in ascending order (Grade D to Grade A). Most professional karting drivers can obtain a Grade D license, but getting into higher grades requires obtaining specific results.
I recently found out that if you hold an international karting license, you’re not allowed to participate in unauthorized championships. In fact, if you’re caught racing in an event without the authorization of the ASN (National Sporting Authorities) or the FIA, you can get your license revoked.
But let’s take a close look at how the Super Licence works, including the penalty points system.
How Does The Super Licence Work?
As I previously said, the FIA Super Licence is like a driver’s license for F1 drivers. But, if you hold a Super Licence, you can basically participate in any championship, whether it’s open-wheel, touring, or karting.
The requirements for the FIA Super Licence are the following:
- You’ll need to be at least 18 years old
- You must have a Grade A competition license
- You must have a valid driver’s license. The driving license must be from the same country as the driver’s nationality.
- You must have completed at least 80% of two seasons in any single-seater championship.
- You must accumulate 40 points in the course of three seasons
- You must pass an FIA theory test
Nowadays, the FIA has also introduced a “Free Practice Super Licence”. The requirements for this one are much more lenient. To obtain one, you’ll need to be 18 years old, have an International Grade A competition license, and accumulate 25 Super Licence points in three years, or finish six Formula 2 races.
The Super Licence also has a penalty points system. Penalty points are given out by the stewards for any misconduct during a Grand Prix weekend. For example, in the 2021 F1 World Championship, the driver with the most penalty points was Yuki Tsunoda, who accumulated eight points.
If a driver accumulates 12 points in one season, the Super Licence is not valid for the next event. In other words, the driver gets banned for one race. Every year, the penalty points are removed.
Since its initiation in the 2014 season, no driver has achieved 12 points in a single year. But, this year’s champion, Max Verstappen, has a total of 28 points in his 6 seasons, the most out of any other driver.
Do All Professional Racers Have A License?
I always wondered about what licenses other disciplines apart from open-wheel racing need. There are several touring championships in Europe and the US, which must require some kind of license, right?
Well, professional racers in all disciplines hold some kind of license. In the US, there are licenses from the SCCA and ICSCC, while in Europe, apart from the FIA licenses, there are national licenses.
However, there’s a difference between all the other governing bodies and the FIA. Generally, the FIA doesn’t hand out licenses to everyone. You’ll need to have a lot of experience and also be a good driver. That being said, a permit from the FIA can be beneficial since you can basically race anywhere in the world.
Things get much more straightforward when it comes to the FIA Super Licence. Any driver who has obtained the Super Licence can race in Formula 1. This also means that a driver who’s qualified for a Super Licence can race just about anywhere in the world, no matter what the discipline is.
If you still have some questions about the FIA Super Licence, here’s an excellent video by Autosport on the topic of the license.
But that’s pretty much all you need to know about the Super Licence. I know that I’ll probably not have the chance to obtain it any time soon (I’m too old for that). But, some of you might be the next F1 drivers. We’ll just have to wait and see!
Stay tuned for more articles just like this one!
FAQs For The FIA Super Licence
How many super license points do you need?
You’ll need 40 points to obtain the FIA Super Licence. As I explained above, you get these points by driving well in several racing disciplines.
How do I get into the FIA Karting Championship?
You’ll need to obtain an FIA international license. While you don’t need an FIA Super Licence for karting, you still need a license. There are several karting licenses, as I explained in this article.