Category: Race

Driving Ratings Explained

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.

General Information

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.

A Brief Look Back At 2014

I sit here on the last day of 2014 looking back at at the year.  Overall, it was interesting and enjoyable.

The Good

GrandAm merged with ALMS and created the IMSA/Tudor Series and the North American Endurance Cup (NEAC).  It brought together the widest range of machinery we haven seen since the days of the GTP Uber-Prototypes.  To unify endurance racing in the US was necessary for both to survive.

While there were areas of concern, especially after Sebring (See “An Open Letter To IMSA“), it ended where it should have started, with P2’s being competitive with the DP’s.  The new P2 Coupes look great and can run with the DP’s, even win against them.  I want to believe there will be a better balance of power (BoP) going into the 2015 Rolex and Sebring races.

Having P2’s race in both the World Endurance Cup (WEC) and the NEAC puts some well known American Teams on the world stage.  In particular, Scott Sharps ESM and Patrick Dempsey’s efforts will show how racing in the US stacks up against the European ands Asian LeMans Series’.  For years, I have felt that our lack of representation internationally was bad for our domestic racing scene.  I look back at the days where the same teams racing at LeMans were at Daytona and Sebring, and our drivers had a yardstick which to compare to themselves to those across the pond.  This is a big plus!!  The dream of having an American winning LeMans, even a class win, now has traction!

Ford has become involved in the series with what I believe is the sweetest jewel of an American built engine.  The 3.5Ltr twin turbo-charged V6 is simply the best small(er) displacement motor around.  I have it in my Lincoln MKT and love it.  Any new manufacturer in the series is good for the series.

Porsche is back in the prototype classes with Mark Webber and the 919!  I simply love it!

WEC/Tudor double header at COTA.  Now we can compare the DP’s to the LMP1’s on the same track on the same day!  We can compare the GTLM’s to the GTE’s too!  Simply awesome.

The Bad

The initial officiating at both Daytona and Sebring was horrendous!  I figured Alex Job Racing would have left for the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC).  They didn’t, but several did, notably Flying Lizard, Turner Motorsport and Bob Stallings/Gainsco.  The officiating was the start, the costly changes to all the BoP changes and, well, the general cost increases for the “low budget” GTDaytona made the PWC’s format very appealing.  While GTD and PWC comparisons are generally apples and oranges, money is money and GTD is costly.

With that said, we have lost at least 7 teams: the 5 mentioned above, Level 5 motorsport (due in part to owner Scott Tuckers pending legal issues) and Pickett/Muscle Milk Motorsport (I have no idea why they left after Sebring).

The Ugly

The wreck of the Red Dragon at Daytona!  It was violent and a near death experience for all involved.  That anyone survived surprises me.  I Wish the best for Memo Gedley and Matteo Malucelli’s recovery and hope to see them both in race cars soon!.

The soap opera that is F1.  Need I say more…