Super Licence 2012

A driver may not compete in Formula 1 unless they hold a ‘Super Licence’, which is earned on past performance. There is often a lot of confusion over which drivers are eligible for a Formula 1 Super Licence. I thought it would be useful to have a page to list drivers I think are eligible according to the prevailing rules.

I will quote the rules and will then follow that by listing the drivers I believe to be eligible. Please note this is my research and is not an official list – and that just because a driver appears in the list it means they are eligible, not that they have applied.


Super Licenses are covered by Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code. The most recent edition I am aware of is the April 2011 version which is available here (PDF).

Articles 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 of Appendix L governs the eligibility rules. Thanks are due here to Jon Waldock and Alianora La Canta for providing assistance in this area.

5.1.1 The driver be the holder of a current FIA International Grade A licence.

5.1.2 The driver must also satisfy at least one of the following requirements:

a) have made at least 5 starts in races counting for the FIA Formula One World Championship for Drivers the previous year, or at least 15 starts within the previous 3 years.

b) have previously held the Super Licence and have been the regular test driver with an F1 World Championship team for the previous year.

c) been classified, within the previous 2 years, in the first 3 of the final classification of the F2 Championship, or the International F3 Trophy, or the GP2 Series, or the GP2 Asia Series or the Japanese F/Nippon Championship,

d) been classified in the first 4 of the final classification of the Indycar IRL series within the previous 2 years,

e) be the current champion of one of the following:
– Formula 3 Euro Series
– The principal national F3 championships of: Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain;
– World Series Formula Renault;
N.B.: the title of Champion is considered valid for 12 months from the last race of the relevant series or championship season.

f) be judged by the FIA to have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars, but with no opportunity to qualify under any of c) to e) above. In this case the F1 team concerned must show that the applicant has driven at least 300 km in a current Formula One car consistently at racing speeds, over a maximum period of 2 days, completed not more than 90 days prior to the application and certifi ed by the ASN of the country in which the test took place.

By exception, if supported by the Safety Commission, the FIA World Motor Sport Council may approve the issue of the Super Licence to persons judged by the Council to have met the intent of the qualification process.

 – Appendix L, International Sporting Code, FIA

Driver List

Here is the list as at 20 January 2012. I will take each clause in sequence, some drivers may qualify by more than one method.

a) Drivers with at least 5 F1 starts in 2011:

Sebastian Vettel (19);
Mark Webber (19);
Fernando Alonso (19);
Felipe Massa (19);
Jenson Button (19);
Lewis Hamilton (19);
Michael Schumacher (19);
Nico Rosberg (19);
Vitaly Petrov (19);
Rubens Barrichello (19);
Pastor Maldonado (19);
Adrian Sutil (19);
Paul di Resta (19);
Sébastien Buemi (19);
Jaime Alguersuari (19);
Kamui Kobayashi (19);
Heikki Kovalainen (19);
Jerome d’Ambrosio (19);
Jarno Trulli (18);
Timo Glock (18);
Sergio Perez (17);
Vitantonio Liuzzi (17);
Daniel Ricciardo (11);
Nick Heidfeld (11);
Bruno Senna (8);

Source – FORIX

Drivers with a total of 15 F1 starts within the previous 3 years (additional to above in bold):

2010: Vettel, Webber, Button, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Schumacher, Rosberg, Barrichello, Hülkenberg (19), Kubica (19), Petrov, Sutil, Liuzzi, Buemi, Alguersuari, Kobayashi, Trulli, Kovalainen, Senna, Glock, di Grassi (18).

2009: Hamilton, Kovalainen, Fisichella (19), Räikkönen (19), Kubica, Heidfeld, Alonso, Trulli, Buemi, Webber, Vettel, Rosberg, Nakajima (17), Sutil, Button, Barrichello, Glock

2008: Räikkönen, Massa, Heidfeld, Kubica, Alonso, Piquet Jr, Rosberg, Nakajima, Coulthard (18), Webber, Trulli, Glock, Bourdais, Vettel, Button, Barrichello, Sutil, Fisichella, Hamilton, Kovalainen

Source – FORIX

b) Drivers having previously held a Super Licence and was the regular test driver for a F1 team last year:

I can find a list of drivers, but I don’t which have held a Super Licence before. Bear in mind holding a licence doesn’t mean they used it.

Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo;
McLaren: Pedro de la Rosa & Gary Paffett;
Ferrari: Giancarlo Fisichella, Jules Bianchi, Marc Gene;
Mercedes: Anthony Davidson is listed on Wikipedia but my memory says Sam Bird was in the car more often;
Lotus Renault: Senna, Grosjean, a selection of others but I think these two did the most;
Williams: Valterri Bottas;
Force India:  Nico Hülkenberg;
Sauber: Pedro de la Rosa, Esteban Gutierrez;
Toro Rosso: Daniel Riccardo, Jean-Eric Vergne;
Team Lotus: Karun Chandhok, Luiz Razia;
HRT: Narain Karthikeyan;
Virgin: Robert Wickens, Sakon Yamamoto;

c) Drivers classified in the top 3 in the championship in these series in the previous 2 years:

Formula 2:
Mikko Bortolotti (1st in 2011);
Christopher Zanella (2nd in 2011);
Ramon Pineiro (3rd in 2011);
Dean Stoneman (1st in 2010);
Jolyon Palmer (2nd in 2010);
Sergei Afanasiev (3rd in 2010);

Formula 3 International Trophy:
Roberto Merhi (1st in 2011);
Marco Wittmann (2nd in 2011);
Daniel Juncadella (3rd in 2011);
(no series in 2010)

Romain Grosjean (1st in 2011);
Luca Filippi (2nd in 2011);
Jules Bianchi (3rd in 2011 and 3rd in 2010);
Pastor Maldonado (1st in 2010);
Sergio Perez (2nd in 2011);

GP2 Asia:
Romain Grosjean (1st in 2011);
Jules Bianchi (2nd in 2011);
Giedo van der Garde (3rd in 2011);
Davide Valsecchi (1st in 2009/10);
Luca Filippe (2nd in 2009/10);
Giacomo Ricci (3rd in 2009/10);

Formula Nippon:
André Lotterer (1st in 2011, 2nd in 2010);
Kazuki Nakajima (2nd in 2011);
João Paolo de Oliveira (3rd in 2011, 1st in 2010);
Loïc Duval (2nd in 2010);

d) Drivers classified in the top 4 of the IndyCar Series in the previous 2 years:

Dario Franchitti (1st in 2011 and 2010);
Will Power (2nd in 2011 and 2010);
Scott Dixon (3rd in 2011 and 2010);
Oriol Servià (3rd in 2011);
Hélio Castroneves (3rd in2010);

e) The current champions of the following series:

Formula Renault 3.5:  Robert Wickens;
Formula 3 Euro Series:  Roberto Merhi;
British Formula 3:  Felipe Nasr;
Italian Formula 3:  Sergio Campana;
Spanish Formula 3:  Alex Fontana;
Japanese Formula 3:  Yuhi Sekiguchi;

f) Be judged by the FIA to have demonstrated outstanding ability in a formula car without having the opportunity to qualify under (c) to (e). The driver must have completed at least 300km in a Formula 1 car at racing speed.

This is difficult to quantify. You can say that any driver completing over 300km in winter testing is eligible (including the ‘young driver’ test in Abu Dhabi in November). The problem is nobody has said how far back you are allowed to go, so you can’t compile a definitive list.

However, you can refer to the list of Km completed in 2011 testing according to FORIX (sub req.), which shows 50 drivers completed over 300km during the 2011 calendar year including many names from the GP2 and FR3.5 grids – whether they “demonstrated outstanding ability” is another question!

By exception, if supported by the Safety Commission, the FIA World Motor Sport Council may approve the issue of the Super Licence to persons judged by the Council to have met the intent of the qualification process.

If someone is a top driver in a recognised championship not covered by the conditions above, and perhaps there isn’t time for them to do any testing or to reach the 300km but are still considered good enough for F1, this would probably be the route they would gain their Super Licence. You might imagine a race winner in IndyCars or in LMP1 sportscars might use this clause.

This is also a ‘catch-all’ paragraph for force majeure. If a driver is a few km under the 300 and their session was cut short, they could probably be allowed in if they are considered fast enough or safe enough. I am not sure if this has ever been put to the test.


6 thoughts on “Super Licence 2012”

  1. Thanks Mark. I’d like to do an updated list but I haven’t been able to find the time recently, and since we’re halfway through the year it might be better off waiting until the next off-season because a new one now would be out of date when 2011’s champions are crowned.


  2. this site rock!! –
    Is it possible to have a list of all drivers who had a “super license” from all past years? also can you add the drivers Nationality/Flags added next to their names – but for mostly for the younger fans who are new to the sport or who may not know them, but may want to cheer their country men/woman on the podium!!

    quick word – “f) Be judged by the FIA to have demonstrated outstanding ability in a formula car without having the opportunity to qualify under (c) to (e). The driver must have completed at least 300km in a Formula 1 car “at racing speed.”

    is this under the old rules or new rules – at what “racing speed” qualifies a driver – over 240+Kmh or under or at top speed?


  3. Go to any list of F1 drivers in history and there’s your list.. After a certain year (I don’t know when) a Superlicence became a requirement for competition, so all F1 drivers in history after that year have held one. I have no intention to look up drivers who applied and received one but didn’t end up using it.

    As for the wording, this is as it was at 2012 or 2013. As F1 rules documents are fairly secretive I am not sure if it is still current, I’ve no reason to believe it has changed since then. I expect it’ll be replaced when the new system comes in for 2016. It is deliberately worded this way so the FIA can make a subjective decision (let in anybody they want), but at a guess I would imagine anything within 5% or 10% of a normal racing lap time would be considered adequate.


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