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Formula One (also Formula 1 or F1) is the highest class of single-seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and owned by the Formula One Group.
The Formula One series originated with the European Grand Prix Motor Racing (q.v. for pre-1947 history) of the 1920s and 1930s. Grand Prix motor racing is a form of motorsport competition that has its roots in organised automobile racing that began in France as far back as 1894. Motorsport or motor sport is a global term used to encompass the group of competitive sporting events which primarily involve the use of motorised vehicles, whether for racing or non-racing competition. The terminology can also be used to describe forms of competition of two-wheeled motorised vehicles under the banner of motorcycle racing, and includes off-road racing such as motocross.
Photo: Old logo
It quickly evolved from a simple road race from one town to the next, to endurance tests for car and driver. The formula is a set of rules that all participants’ cars must meet. Formula One was a new formula agreed upon after World War II during 1946, with the first non-championship races being held that year. A number of Grand Prix racing organisations had laid out rules for a world championship before the war, but due to the suspension of racing during the conflict, the World Drivers’ Championship was not formalised until 1947. The first world championship race was held at Silverstone, United Kingdom in 1950. A championship for constructors followed in 1958. National championships existed in South Africa and the UK in the 1960s and 1970s. Non-championship Formula One events were held for many years, but due to the increasing cost of competition, the last of these occurred in 1983] On 26 November 2017, Formula One unveiled its new logo, following the 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit. The new logo replaces F1’s iconic ‘flying one’, which was the sport’s trademark since 1993.
Photo: New logo
Return of racing
The first World Championship for Drivers was won by Italian Giuseppe Farina in his Alfa Romeo in 1950, narrowly defeating his Argentine teammate Juan Manuel Fangio. However, Fangio won the title in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1957 (His record of five World Championship titles stood for 45 years until German driver Michael Schumacher took his sixth title in 2003), his streak interrupted (after an injury) by two-time champion Alberto Ascari of Ferrari. Although the UK’s Stirling Moss was able to compete regularly, he was never able to win the world championship, and is now widely considered to be the greatest driver never to have won the title. Fangio, however, is remembered for dominating Formula One’s first decade and has long been considered the “Grand Master” of Formula One.
Photo: Giuseppe Farina
This period featured teams managed by road car manufacturers Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Maserati; all of whom had competed before the war. The first seasons were run using pre-war cars like Alfa’s 158. They were front-engined, with narrow tyres and 1.5-litre supercharged or 4.5-litre normally aspirated engines. The 1952 and 1953 World Championships were run to Formula Two regulations, for smaller, less powerful cars, due to concerns over the paucity of Formula One cars available. When a new Formula One, for engines limited to 2.5 litres, was reinstated to the world championship for 1954, Mercedes-Benz introduced the advanced W196, which featured innovations such as desmodromic valves and fuel injection as well as enclosed streamlined bodywork. Mercedes drivers won the championship for two years, before the team withdrew from all motorsport in the wake of the 1955 Le Mans disaster.
Photo: 2017 model
An era of British dominance was ushered in by Mike Hawthorn and Vanwall’s championship wins in 1958, although Stirling Moss had been at the forefront of the sport without ever securing the world title. Between Hawthorn, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees and Graham Hill, British drivers won nine Drivers’ Championships and British teams won fourteen Constructors’ Championship titles between 1958 and 1974.
Photo: Phil Hill-One of the first F1 drivers
The iconic British Racing Green Lotus, with a revolutionary aluminium-sheet monocoque chassis instead of the traditional space-frame design, was the dominant car, and in 1968, the team broke new boundaries, when they were the first to carry advertising on their cars.