The FIA Super Licence is a qualification allowing the licence-holder to compete in the Formula One World Championship as a driver. The licence is issued to drivers who have met criteria of success in junior motorsport categories, or in exceptional circumstances, those who have not met those criteria but have demonstrated "outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars" and achieved 300 kilometres (190 miles) of running in a Formula One car.
To qualify for an FIA Super Licence the requesting driver must already be the holder of a grade A competition licence, and additionally meet the requirements of the 2013 FIA International Sporting Code, Appendix L. These requirements state that the driver must be either the reigning champion in a lower category of motor sport, for example Formula 3 (Euroformula Open Championship or Japanese championship), Formula 2, or must have consistently finished well in these categories. For example, a driver finishing fifth and sixth (twice) positions in the Formula 2 championship within the last three years will be eligible for a super licence.
Additionally, drivers who have competed in the IndyCar Series are eligible for a Super Licence if they finished within the first four places of the driver's championship. This allows drivers from the United States domestic series to move into Formula One without first taking part in other FIA sanctioned events. Under exceptional circumstances Appendix L also allows the FIA to award a Super Licence to a driver who does not meet the normal criteria if a vote reveals unanimous agreement by the members, and provided that the driver has completed 300 kilometres of testing at racing speeds in a current car.
According to the International Sporting Code, in order to secure a Super Licence, a driver must either:
From 2016 onwards, points are awarded according to the following table:
|FIA Formula 2 Championship||40||40||40||30||20||10||8||6||4||3|
|GP2 Series (2015-16)||40||40||30||20||10||8||6||4||3||2|
|European Formula 3 Championship||30||25||20||10||8||6||4||3||2||1|
|FIA Formula E Championship|
|FIA World Endurance Championship LMP1||30||24||20||16||12||10||8||6||4||2|
|World Series Formula V8 3.5||20||15||10||8||6||4||3||2||1||0|
|FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2||20||16||12||10||8||6||4||2||0||0|
|World Touring Car Championship||15||12||10||7||5||3||2||1||0||0|
|Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters|
|NASCAR Cup Series|
|FIA Formula 4 championships||12||10||7||5||3||2||1||0||0||0|
|National Formula Three championships||10||7||5||3||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Formula Renault 2.0|
|NASCAR National Series|
|FIA World Endurance Championship GTE|
|IMSA GT Le Mans|
|International GT3 Series||6||4||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Formula Academy (FFSA)||5||4||3||2||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Karting World Championship Senior category||4||3||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Karting Continental Championships Senior Category||3||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Karting World Championship Junior Category|
|Karting Continental Championships Junior Category||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
The FIA charges the licence holder an annual fee. According to a report on the BBC, the cost of a super licence rose by an average £8,700 in 2009, and there was an extra charge of € 2,100 per point earned in 2008 - up from €447 per point in 2007. In 2010, Lewis Hamilton would pay £242,000 for his licence for the season.
Reducing the cost of the super licence represented a significant policy shift for FIA's then-president Max Mosley, who wrote to Formula 1 drivers in February 2009 suggesting that they "race elsewhere if they were unable to pay for their super licences." After Mosley met with representatives from the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) on March 23, 2009, the FIA issued a statement: "Following a very positive meeting between FIA President Max Mosley and representatives of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), a proposal will be made to the World Motor Sport Council to revise super licence fees for drivers in the 2010 championship".
In November 2012, however, FIA announced it would again increase the cost of the super licence. According to McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, the proposed increase would lead to a basic fee of €10,000 ($12,800) for the super licence plus €1,000 ($1,280) for each world championship point. 2009 Formula 1 World Driver's Champion Jenson Button objected, and expressed his position that all current F1 drivers should pay the same flat fee for their super licences:
Personally I don't feel that we should be paying different super licence fees for different drivers and different point situations. I mean, when you get your licence to drive on the road, because you do more miles you don't pay more for it, do you? And you don't pay more for a licence in any other category because you've got a better car or whatever, so it should be a flat fee.
The nationality that appears on the racing licence is the same one that appears on the driver's passport. This is not necessarily the same as the country issuing the racing licence. A Frenchman living in Germany can race with a German licence, but the nationality displayed would still be French. In order to race as German, the driver would need to have German nationality as well. Drivers with multiple citizenship choose their "official" nationality. However, sometimes mistakes relating to the nationality of drivers occur even on official documents issued by the FIA or race organisers, e.g. Ulstermen John Watson and Eddie Irvine, who both hold the British nationality on their passports, identified as Irish by official Entry lists.
The Grand Prix Drivers' Association, which represents the majority of F1 drivers, had expressed its discontent at a hike in fees in 2008.
The decision to reduce the licence cost is a big turnaround for Mosley who, in February, wrote to Formula 1 drivers to suggest they race elsewhere if they were unable to pay for their super licences.
A number of other issues were discussed and the FIA has agreed to meet representatives of the GPDA on a regular basis to maintain what promises to be a constructive dialogue.
F1 drivers will also have to contribute, with Eason saying the cost of their super licence is facing “massive hikes”.
Whitmarsh shows understanding for FIA's "idea of increasing its revenue" in that manner.
Jenson Button believes all drivers should pay the same amount for their super licence to race in Formula One.
When I won the World Cup because it was just really expensive. I had to pay about a million euros, if I remember rightly," said Jenson Button, who won the title in 2009.
When I won the title, it became really expensive. I had to pay pay an estimated €1M ($1.28M), if I remember correctly.
9.5.2 All Drivers, irrespective of the nationality of their Licence, participating in any FIA World Championship Competition, shall retain the nationality of their passport in all official documents, publications and prize‐giving ceremonies.