To finish first - first you must finish - but perhaps we should add while obeying the rules to this old dictum. Before the start of a new season the FIA publishes two sets of rules. The first is the Sporting Regulations which currently stands at 46 pages and covers the way a race weekend runs, from which licence you need to the start procedure and possible sanctions should rules be broken. The second, and lengthier tome, is the technical regulations (75 pages), spelling out in minute detail every rule that covers the construction of an F1 car.
To save you wading through the whole 121 pages we have summarised the most important rules for you, and the changes for 2013. Should you want to know more, the full regulations can be downloaded from the FIA website.
Engines: Each car is allowed eight engines to be used as they see fit for the season. Should they need a further engine they will have to contend with a demotion of ten places from their qualifying position at the next race and further demotions every time they fit a new one after that. Engines must be 2.4 litre V8s with a maximum RPM of 18,000 and weigh a minimum of 95kg.
Gearbox: Each driver must use the same gearbox for five consecutive events (Saturday and Sunday at race weekends). Should they need an additional box they will be hit with a five-place grid penalty.
KERS: Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems were reintroduced in 2011 after the teams mutually agreed to suspend their use in 2010. In short, it takes wasted energy under braking and turns it into additional power which is then stored and made available (in fixed quantities per lap) by means of a boost button controlled by the driver.
Drag Reduction System: Moveable bodywork regulations introduced in 2011 allow adjustment of the rear wing from the cockpit to aid overtaking. The rear wing flap can only be opened at pre-determined points on the track during practice and qualifying and during a race only when a driver is less than one second behind another car in those zones. Braking deactivates the device. The intention is to decrease drag for the chasing car and improve the chances of overtaking. The only time it cannot be used under any circumstances is two laps after the start (or a safety car restart), under yellow flags and in wet conditions.
Weight: The weight of car and driver must be no less than 642kg at any point during a grand prix weekend. Teams try to build the car as light as possible and then use ballast in strategic areas to ensure they meet the weight requirements. The minimum weight was upped 2kgs in 2013 to allow for the extra weight of Pirelli's new tyres.
Race length: The maximum distance of each race is 305km and as all circuits are different lengths so are the number of laps the race is run over. In addition to the number of laps there is also a maximum time limit of two hours for a race.
Tyres: Teams are supplied by Pirelli with two different dry-weather compounds for each event. They also receive intermediate tyres and full wet tyres. In dry conditions, both compounds must be used on race day, meaning drivers have to pit at least once to change tyres. Each driver has a maximum of 11 sets of dry-weather tyres for each event, although this amount can be increased by the FIA to allow teams an extra set of prime, option or development tyres for Friday practice. Teams have to return one set of primes after first practice plus a set of primes and a set of options after second and third practice, leaving them with six sets of dry tyres for qualifying and the race. To make it easier to spot which compounds are being used, the writing on the tyres are marked in different colours. Hard tyres have orange writing, mediums have white, softs have yellow, super-softs have red, intermediates have green and full wets have blue.
Qualifying: This is run over an hour and is split into three sessions. In Q1 (the first session) all cars may take to the track and complete as many or as few laps as they like. If any car fails to register a time within 107% of the fastest time in Q1 it will not be eligible for the grand prix, although may be allowed in if it has proven to be quicker in an earlier practice session. At the end of the 20-minute session there is a seven-minute break and the slowest six cars are eliminated and the times re-set. Q2 is run to the same rules over 15 minutes, and at the end of the session a further six cars are eliminated. This leaves the last 10 cars to fight it out in Q3 for the top ten grid spots in a session that lasts ten minutes.
Drivers: No driver can compete in a grand prix if they do not take part in Saturday practice. Each team may field up to four drivers over the season.
Points: Points are awarded to the top ten finishers as follows:
1st= 25 : 2nd = 18 : 3rd = 15 : 4th = 12 : 5th = 10 : 6th = 8 : 7th= 6 : 8th= 4 : 9th = 2 : 10th= 1
If a race has to be stopped before 75% of the distance has been completed half points are awarded. Drivers score points for themselves and also for their team, if both drivers from a team finish in the points both scores count towards the constructors' tally.
Penalties: Blocking a rival driver, causing a crash, speeding in the pit lane or jumping the start can land a driver with a penalty. The penalties are handed out by the race officials known as stewards, who can dole out seven types.
The most popular is a drive-through penalty - where the driver is required to pass through the pit lane at the speed limit without stopping. If the stewards give a drive-through penalty and there is less than five laps of the race remaining, a 25-second penalty will be added to their race time.
More time consuming is a ten-second penalty, sometimes known as a stop-go - the drivers are required to stop in their pit box for ten seconds, during this time no work can be done on the car.
The third is a time penalty, which can be added to a driver's race time after the chequered flag, often dropping him down the order.
Fourth is a grid-position penalty for the next race - these are normally given post-race following investigations into dangerous driving. Teams can protest against these penalties.
Fifth is a basic reprimand.
The sixth and seventh are the most serious and can exclude a driver from the results or suspend them from future grands prix.
Safety Car: As its name suggests, the safety car is deployed to ensure safe passage of the racing cars around the track. It is deployed after an accident that would otherwise cause the race to be stopped, but the use of the car allows the race to continue while the problem is dealt with. Laps under the safety car still count towards race distance. When it is time for the safety car to leave the circuit, it will turn off its yellow lights - racing then resumes when the leader crosses the safety car line (ahead of the start-finish line). In exceptional circumstances, such as heavy rain, a race may be started behind the safety car.