Over this past season, there has been a great deal angst surrounding the FIA’s Driver Categorizations, otherwise known as the driver ratings. It is an international system, the intent of which is to better define who is a professional and who is an amateur. This system is used primarily for the Pro/Am classes in IMSA (PC and GTD), and ALMS/ELMS/WEC (GTE-Am).
What the FIA has done is a noble attempt to create order in an otherwise chaotic system. However, it’s execution has been flawed for several reasons, some of which I will address later. Much of what I have recently read has discussed the issues involved in the use of the system, rather than how these ratings are derived. I will now attempt to pull that rabbit out of the hat in an effort to explain what data is used and how they assign a driver their rating.
Drivers are required to provide the FIA with an application for rating, along with an application fee of 150€, a list of accomplishments and achievements in FIA recognized racing series. Keep in mind that there are over two thousand drivers who have official ratings.
For this system to work, all of the FIA member series must provide standardized data to the FIA’s Panel of Stewards of the Competition (yes, that is the real name) for every recognized event. This data will include all of the drivers finishing positions, their 10 faster lap times, and the gap between them and the class winners. Using this information, the series will list the time ranges for each class for that event. Also included in this data are the weather conditions and any other factors that would influence the outcome of the race (such as red flag events or extended follows).
Using all this information from the driver and racing series, the Panel of Stewards of the Competition will then review and rate the drivers. Drivers may request a a revision if the driver feels they have been wrongly catagorized. It is up to the driver to provide any information pertinent to this review as well as pay a fee of 250€ for revision. The driver may be have their rating adjusted by the FIA, should their results differ greatly from those used in the initial review.
We all know the break down; professionals are Platinum and Gold and Aamateurs are Silver and Bronze. When I refer to a Professional Series or Professional Championship, I am referring to the following classes: WEC GTE-Pro, ELMS and ALMS (Asian) GTE-Pro and IMSA GTLM classes.
To be a Platinum rated driver, a person must meet two of the following criteria:
- Have an F1 Super License
- Have a full time ride as a factory or works driver
- Won LeMans in a professional class
- Won a Professional Series championship (WEC, IMSA, ELMS or ALMS)
- Won the Porsche SuperCup
- Finish top 5 in Indycar, F3000, WEC Championship, IMSA (DP only)
- Top 3 major single seater championship
- American LeMans Series P1 or GT Champion
- any 3 criteria of the Gold rating
To be a Gold rated driver, they must meet only one of the following criteria:
- Any single Platinum criteria requirement
- Top 3 in any secondary single seater championship
- Won a major GT or Sportswear championship with drivers of the same rating or lower.
- Raced in a major international championship with wins, possums and poles
- Won regional or national single seater championship
- Finished top 3 in Porsche SuperCup, DTM, BTCC or Carrera Cup
To be a Silver rated driver, a person must meet one of the following requirements:
- 30 years of age or younger while not meeting any Gold or Platinum criteria.
- Won a regional or mMajor National championship or series (Skip Barber, Ect.)
- Won a major Endurance Race (LeMans or Daytona)
- Won a non-professional drivers series (Ferrari Challenge, Lamborghini SuperTrofeo, GT3 Cup, Etc)
To be a Bronze rated driver, a person must meet the following criteria:
- 30 years of age or older when first racing license is issues with little or no single seater experience.
- No significant racing results
- 30 years of age or younger with less than 1 year and experience and/or fewer than 5 races participated.
The following following apply to all categories.
- Any driver over the age of 50 will behave their category reduced by 1 level.
- Any driver over the age of 55 will have their category reduced by 2 levels.
- Any driver over the age of 60 will be a Bronze.
Many writers have discussed how and why the system is being used. I won’t beat that dead horse for too long.
As we know, IMSA, ALMS (Asia), ELMS and the WEC use the rating system in an effort to equalize the competition in their respective Pro/Am classes. In WEC LMP2, there must be at least 1 Silver or Bronze rated driver. In GTE-AM, there must be at least 1 Silver and 1 Bronze rated driver. In IMSA GTD and PC, there must be at least 1 Silver or Bronze rated driver. If there are 5 or more drivers listed (as in the Rolex24, for Example), there must be 2 Amateur drivers.
LeMans uses the rating for the same purpose. However, LeMans is such a big international race, it does use the rating for an additional reason. LeMans rookies, regardless of racing experience or pedigree, are required to show the race stewards that they are qualified to participate. All rookies must participate in one of several simulations prior to doing their on-track test. This is done at the Aotech Simulator, located in St Pierre du Perray, just south of Paris Platinum drivers, though required to do the simulation, are not required to do the on track test. This helps Platinum rated LeMans rookies like Scott Dixon and (potentially) Tony Kannan, who have Indycar obligations the same weekend as the test.
So there we have it! This is the how, and why, the drivers are rated the way they are! Soon, I will get in to some of the issues the ratings have caused.