The big day

The big day

The race begins with a warm-up lap, after which the cars assemble on the starting grid in the order they qualified.

This lap is often referred to as the formation lap, as the cars lap in formation with no overtaking.

The warm-up lap allows drivers to check the condition of the track and their car, give the tyres a chance to get some heat in them to get some much needed traction, and gives the pit crews time to clear themselves and their equipment from the grid.

Once all the cars have formed on the grid, a light system above the track indicated the start of the race: five red lights are illuminated at intervals of one second; they are all then extinguished simultaneously after an unspecified time (typically less than 3 seconds) to signal the start of the race.

The start procedure maybe abandoned if a driver stalls on the grid, signaled by raising his arm. If this happens the procedure restarts: a new formation lap begins with the offending car removed from the grid.

The race may also be restarted in the event of a serious accident or dangerous conditions, with the original start voided.