The Longest and Shortest F1 Races

Which Grands Prix were won over the furthest distance? Which races were won in the shortest time? We take a look at the longest and shortest races in Formula 1 history!


THE SHORTEST RACES

THE SHORTEST F1 RACE

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix broke a 30 year old record to become the shortest ever Formula 1 race. The race was held in treacherous conditions, with no racing actually taking place. A handful of laps were completed under Safety Car conditions – just enough to declare a result, with half points awarded. Though three laps of the race were completed behind the Safety Car, F1’s rules mean that only one counted towards the official classification. Max Verstappen therefore won the race after one lap, completed in a time of three minutes and 27.071 seconds. With just 6.880km covered, the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix set a new record as the shortest race – in terms of both time to complete and distance raced. 

OTHER RACES WHICH LASTED LESS THAN AN HOUR

There have been only four other Formula 1 races which were won in a time of less than an hour. The 1991 Australian Grand Prix previously held the record as the shortest F1 race. The final race of the 1991 season was held at the Adelaide Street Circuit in appalling conditions, with the Grand Prix lasting only 24 minutes. The race began in heavy rain, with Ayrton Senna leading the field away from pole position. It was not long before drivers began to lose control of their cars – both Nicola Larini and Jean Alesi aquaplaned and crashed in the same section of the circuit, leaving debris strewn across the track. The race leaders narrowly avoiding the battered cars. Top tier drivers – including Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet – spun on the slippery surface, while leader Senna gestured for the race to be stopped. The Brazilian got his wish, with the race abandoned after only sixteen laps – or just under 53 kilometres. Senna’s win, albeit scoring only half points, confirmed McLaren’s status as 1991 Constructors’ Champions.

The other two races which were won in a time of less than an hour both took place in 1975. The 1975 Spanish Grand Prix was abandoned in tragic circumstances after 29 laps. On lap 26, Rolf Stommelen’s car left the circuit and fatally injured four onlookers. Stommelen survived the crash, suffering only broken bones. The race was cancelled soon after, having lasted only 43 minutes. Four months later, the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix came to a premature end due to poor weather conditions. Vittorio Brambilla recorded his only Grand Prix win after 58 minutes of racing. The only other race less than an hour in length was the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix, which was red-flagged after 55 minutes and not restarted, again due to heavy rain. Half points were awarded at all of these races.

The Tifosi celebrate Schumacher’s victory in the fastest ever F1 race. (Image: Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

THE SHORTEST F1 RACE TO REACH FULL DISTANCE

With Michael Schumacher winning in a time of one hour and fourteen minutes, the 2003 Italian Grand Prix is the shortest F1 race to reach full distance. Schumacher completed the race at an average speed of 247.586km/h – which remains the record for the fastest race in history.

THE SHORTEST DISTANCE COVERED IN A FULL RACE

With the race distance of 241.38km, the 1983 Detroit Grand Prix is the race which was contested over the shortest distance – excluding races which did not run to their full scheduled distance. Despite its short distance, the race nearly reached the two-hour time limit, with Michele Alboreto winning in a time of one hour and 50 minutes.

THE LONGEST RACES

THE LONGEST F1 RACE

The red flag period was a major factor in the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix becoming the longest race ever. (Image: Mark McArdle, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The epic 2011 Canadian Grand Prix – which featured six Safety Car stints and a long red flag period – holds the record as F1’s longest ever race. Jenson Button won in a time of four hours and four minutes – seven minutes longer than the 1951 Indianapolis 500 took to complete. Because of the red flag period, Button completed the race at an average speed of 74.864km/h – the slowest average speed at which a Grand Prix has been won.

THE LONGEST F1 RACE DISTANCE

The 1951 French Grand Prix was run over a distance of 601.832km – the longest ever distance completed in a single race. This was the first of three races which was won by two drivers sharing a single car. Luigi Fagioli and Juan Manuel Fangio collectively raced 77 laps of the Reims-Gueux circuit to win for Alfa Romeo. To put the length of the 1951 French Grand Prix in context, current F1 rules state that races should be close to 305km, with the race ending on the lap which will reach that distance. This race with the longest distance this millennium is the 2000 Japanese Grand Prix, which was contested over 310.596km.

THE LONGEST F1 RACE WITH NO RED FLAGS

The longest F1 race to feature no stoppages was the 1954 German Grand Prix, in which Juan Manuel Fangio completed 22 laps of the legendary Nurburgring layout in three hours and 45 minutes. The race distance had been increased by four laps since F1’s previous visit in 1953. This was the record for the longest non-Indianapolis 500 race until the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. The longest race to not feature a Red Flag so far this millennium is the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix. The race ran for 58 of its scheduled 61 laps before the two-hour time limit was reached, with Lewis Hamilton taking victory in two hours and three minutes.


TABLES OF LONGEST AND SHORTEST RACES

Expand the tables below to see more details on the longest and shortest rounds of the World Championship! (NOTE: Though not an “F1 race”, the Indianapolis 500 was held as a round of the Drivers’ Championship between 1950 and 1960 and is therefore included in the tables below)

THE LONGEST F1 RACES

 RaceCircuitTime Won In
12011 Canadian Grand PrixCircuit Gilles Villeneuve4:04:39.537
21951 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:57:38.050
31955 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:53:59.530
41956 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:53:28.840
51953 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:53:01.690
61952 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:52:41.880
71954 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:49:17.270
81954 German Grand PrixNurburgring3:45:45.800
91958 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:44:13.800
101957 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:41:14.250
111959 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:40:49.200
121956 German Grand PrixNurburgring3:38:43.700
131960 Indianapolis 500Indianapolis Motor Speedway3:36:11.360
141957 German Grand PrixNurburgring3:30:38.300
151951 German Grand PrixNurburgring3:23:03.300
161951 French Grand PrixReims3:22:11.000
171954 Spanish Grand PrixPedralbes3:13:52.100
181950 Monaco Grand PrixCircuit de Monaco3:13:18.700
191957 Monaco Grand PrixCircuit de Monaco3:10:12.800
201952 German Grand PrixNurburgring3:08:13.300

THE SHORTEST F1 RACES

 RaceCircuitTime Won In
12021 Belgian Grand PrixSpa Francorchamps0:03:27.071
21991 Australian Grand PrixAdelaide0:24:34.899
31975 Spanish Grand PrixMontjuic0:42:53.700
42009 Malaysia Grand PrixSepang0:55:30.622
51975 Austrian Grand PrixÖsterreichring0:57:56.690
61984 Monaco Grand PrixCircuit de Monaco1:01:07.740
71978 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:07:04.540
82001 Belgian Grand PrixSpa Francorchamps1:08:05.002
92003 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:14:19.838
102005 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:14:28.659
111987 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:14:47.707
122006 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:14:51.975
132004 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:15:18.448
142019 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:15:26.665
152017 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:15:32.312
162001 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:15:58.493
172002 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:16:19.982
182009 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:16:21.706
192010 Italian Grand PrixMonza1:16:24.572
201981 Belgian Grand PrixZolder1:16:31.610

Header Image: Mark McArdle, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

2 Comments

  1. I think today’s f1 race at Spa holds the new shortest race record. 2 laps, both completed under the safety car.

    1. Author

      You are correct, Sarah! Although only one of those laps counted towards the official result. This article has now been updated to reflect the new record-setting race!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *