History of Formula One

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Though Formula One evolved from the Grand Prix racing of the early 1900s, the true history of Formula One began in 1947 with the FIA's standardization of rules and incorporation of a World Drivers' Championship. The sport's history necessarily parallels the history of its technical regulations; see Formula One regulations for a summary of the technical rule changes.


Formative years

In 1950, as an answer to the Motorcycle World Championships introduced in 1949, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) organized the first ever official World Championship for Drivers using the Formula One rules as laid out after the war. These regulations called for the use of 4.5 litre atmospheric engines or 1.5 litre supercharged engines. The organization of the championship, to be held across the five 'major' Grands Prix of Europe, was a mere formalization of what had already been developing in Grand Prix racing during the previous years. It was the Italian teams of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Maserati which were best positioned to dominate the initial years of the championship, though other national manufacturers attempted to participate as well - such as the French maker Talbot or the British effort BRM. A number of private cars also participated in local races.

In 1950 it was Alfa Romeo who would dominate. Giuseppe Farina won the first World Championship event, the 1950 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and went on to become the first ever World Drivers Champion with his 1.5 litre supercharged Alfetta 158. Alfa dominance continued into 1951, when the great Juan-Manuel Fangio claimed the first of his five championship titles. However, Alfa Romeo faced strong opposition from 4.5 litre normally aspirated Ferraris towards the end of 1951, and decided to withdraw.

Considering the rising costs and the absence of serious competitors against the Ferraris, the FIA decided that for the next two seasons the World Driving Championship would be contested using the 2-litre-engined Formula Two cars. Unfortunately, Italian dominance was only increased with the revolutionary 500s of Enzo Ferrari's marque, bringing Italian legend Alberto Ascari his two championships in 1952 and 1953.

In 1954 the championsip returned to Formula One-regulation. New regulations allowed 2.5-litre athmospheric engines. This change brought an end to the Italian domination of the sport, but rather than bringing increased competition to the races, this merely allowed the Silver Arrows of Mercedes to make their triumphant return to the sport it had dominated in the 1930s. Featuring desmodromic valves, fuel injection, all-enclosing 'Stromlinien' bodywork and adjustable chassis which could vary by up to 200 mm in wheelbase, the Mercedes cars at the hands of Fangio swept the next two seasons - winning all but two of the races. However, at the end of 1955 Mercedes vanished,as swiftly as they had come, retiring from motor racing for the next thirty years after a disastrous accident at Le Mans - allowing Ferrari and Maserati to return the podium to its accustomed shades of Italian red.

But at the end of 1958 the colors on the final podium had changed. While a Ferrari driver once again held the title of World Driver's Champion, it was Englishman Mike Hawthorn who was the title holder - the first Englishman to ever do so. Meanwhile, the British Vanwalls driven by Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks had captured the first ever World Championship for Constructors. While far quicker than their Italian counterparts, the Vanwalls all too often took points from one another, allowing Hawthorn to win by a single point.

The rear-engine revolution

1958 was a watershed in another crucial way for Formula One. Stirling Moss won the Argentina GP driving a rear-engined Cooper entered by the private team of Rob Walker, and powered by a 2 L Coventry-Climax Straight-4s. This was the first victory of a rear-engined (actually mid-engined) car in Formula One. The next GP in Monaco was also won by the same Cooper driven by Maurice Trintignant. Powered by engine of less than 2.5 L, the Coopers remained outsiders in 1958 ; but as soon as the new 2.5 L Conventry-Climax engine was alvailable, the Coopers went on to dominate Formula One for three years. While their fellow British teams of Lotus and BRM also switched to rear-engined machines, Enzo Ferrari adopted a retrograd attitude claiming that the horses pull the car rather than push it. Australian Jack Brabham claimed the first two of his three titles in the little British cars, the last two championships held with the 2.5 L formula.

In 1961, in an attempt to curb speeds, Formula One was downgraded to 1.5 L, non-supercharged engines - a formula which would remain for the next five years. Ferrari could have used its already experienced V6 powered mid-engined Formula 2 cars, but preferred to go one step beyond by designing a very sophisticated car powered by a 120° V6. This led to Ferrari dominance for the 1961 season as the British teams scrambled to come up with a suitable engine. Porsche entered Formula One and won a race in 1962, but eventually pulled out due to the high costs. In 1962, the Lotus team ran the Lotus 25 powered by the new Coventry-Climax FWMV V8 engine. The car had an aluminium sheet chassis called a monocoque instead of tubular chassis, it proved to be the new major technological breakthrough since the introduction of rear-engined cars. As soon as the car and the engine became reliable, the era of the Lotus and of Jim Clark began. Clark won two titles in five years (in 1963 and 1965), and in other years it was only the Lotus' habitual teething troubles that allowed Phil Hill, Graham Hill (no relation) and John Surtees to claim titles for Ferrari, BRM and Ferrari, respectively. Ferrari made considerable technological and financial effort to win the title in 1964, Surtees used not less than three differents engines in the season a V6, a V8 and a Flat-12. Surtees' title was especially notable, as he became (and remains) the only driver ever to win the World Championship for both cars and motorcycles.

1966 saw the return to power as Formula One re-expanded, allowing engines of 3.0 L normally aspirated, or 1.5 L turbocharged capacity. 1966 was a transitional years for most teams. While Ferrari and BRM strugled with their new engines - and Lotus struggled just to find a reliable powerplant - the big winner was Jack Brabham, whose new, self-named racing team took victory two years in a row. 1966 was Jack's year, while 1967 went to his teammate, New Zealander Denny Hulme, as Jack tried new parts on his car.

Leaf and wing

Although they failed to win the title in 1967, the Lotus team of Jim Clark and Graham Hill gave notice that year that they were once again the dominant force they had been in 1965. The were the first team to use the Ford-Cosworth DFV (Double Four-Valve) engine that dominated Formula One for the next decade. Although Hulme had won the World Driver's Crown on reliability, the speed of the Lotus 49 was unmistakable, and the season-opening 1968 Grand Prix of South Africa confirmed this, with the Lotus duo finishing 1-2.

But in the next few months came three revolutions that changed Formula One drastically. The first came in April of that year, when Lotus's Formula Two team appeared at a race in Barcelona in the Red, Gold and White colors of Imperial Tobacco. Similar to the USA, sponsorship had arrived in European racing, too. The second revolution happened the next weekend, when Jim Clark was killed in Hockenheim, costing racing its most gifted driver. The third appeared at the Grand Prix of Monaco at the end of May: aerodynamic wings, as seen previously on Sportscars, appeared on Graham Hill's Lotus 49B Formula One car for the first time.

Despite the death of Jim Clark, Lotus won both titles in 1968, but 1969 saw a new force appear on the scene, in the form of Ken Tyrrell's team entering Cosworth-powered cars built by French aeronautic company Matra. Jackie Stewart won the titles in 1969 with a Matra MS80. For 1970, Matra insisted on using their own V12 rather than the Cosworth, as Tyrell was supported by Ford and the Matra V12 wasn't reliable Tyrrell bought March 701 chassis before developing its own cars. The new wedge shaped Lotus 72 had teething problems and Jochen Rindt was killed in Monza when the brake shaft broke. He took the title posthumously for Lotus in 1970 anyway. Using their own machines, Tyrrell and Stewart repeated their success in 1971. After the death of Rindt, Lotus struggled and experimented with a turbine powered car. Focussing again on the 72, Lotus and Emerson Fittipaldi took the championships in 1972 while Stewart suffered form an ulcer due to a busy schedule on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1973, Lotus teammates Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson raced each other while Stewart was supported by François Cévert at Tyrrell. While Lotus took the Constructor's title, Stewart took the Driver's title - and a crash took Cevert's life.

By this time, Formula One cars bore little visual resemblance to those of 1966. Bodywork was sculpted into wedge shapes (pioneered by Lotus), wings of wildly varying shapes sprouted off the nose and tails of the vehicles, and gigantic airboxes towered over driver's heads. Even the number of wheels was variable, Tyrrell introducing the 6-wheeled P34 in 1976. Internally, revolution was happening as well. Stressed-member construction (where the engine functions as a part of the chassis), pioneered by Lotus in 1967, was now the norm. But the biggest mechanical change came in 1974 and 1975, when the Ferrari 312B3 and 312T appeared, the latter with a transverse gearbox allowing better weight distribution on the rear axle. These red cars, with Austrian Niki Lauda at the wheel, won the Constructors titles in 1975, 1976, and 1977, dicing with the McLaren M23's of Fittipaldi and James Hunt, the Driver's champions of 1974 and 1976.

Turbo vs. ground effects

1977, though, saw the start of one of the most troublesome times in Formula One history. It began with two teams - the long-established Lotus team and newcomer Renault of France.

Renault was the first to reveal their idea of the revolution when their RS01 made its first appearance powered by a 1.5 L turbocharged engine. Although supercharged engines were successful in past decades and the provision for turbocharged engines had existed for 11 years, no F1 team had ever attempted to build an engine to take advantage of the superior power, feeling that the turbo's increased fuel usage and 'turbo lag' would negate any power advantage. Renault, however, took their sport-prototype turbocharged engine to GP racing; despite frequent breakdowns that resulted in the nickname of the 'Little Yellow Teapot', they persisted with the engine, finally seeing good results in 1979.

Meanwhile, however, Lotus had been having much more success with its Lotus 78 and 79, which brought ground effects to Formula One for the first time. Giving radically increased downforce with radically less drag, the Lotus cars were fast but unreliable in 1977. The evidence when drivers Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson was clear, however, and for 1978 many other teams were also experimenting with ground effects. Despite this, the extra year for Lotus paid off, as their new Lotus 79 gave Andretti his Championship, making him the first ever driver to win both the American IndyCar championship and the Formula One title.

The work of Renault and Lotus started the greatest and most bitter battle in Formula One history. Turbo engines were expensive and complex machines, difficult to develop and build, and so it was mostly manufacturer-supported teams, such as Renault, Ferrari, the reborn Alfa Romeo and the like which took that route. In contrast, ground effects were relatively cheap, and could be well-suited to the narrow (and very cheap) Ford-Cosworth engine, still used by teams like Lotus, McLaren, and Williams. These two groups were represented by two political bodies - FISA, headed by Jean-Marie Balestre, and FOCA, headed up by Bernie Ecclestone.

The battles between FISA and FOCA for the first years of the 1980s overshadowed the events on track. Jody Scheckter took Ferrari's last title for 21 years in 1979, but attention there was already being focused on young Canadian Gilles Villeneuve. Alan Jones and Keke Rosberg brought success to Frank Williams at last in 1980 and 1982, while young Brazilian Nelson Piquet strengthened the hand of Brabham team owner Ecclestone in 1981 and 1983.

Ironically, the 1983 title, won for the champion of the privateer's rights, was the first-ever won by a turbocharged engine. By 1983, the dispute between FISA and FOCA had been resolved and although FOCA emerged with the stronger hand, the teams had seen the writing on the wall. By 1984, only Tyrrell still struggled on with the old DFV engines.

Safety issues finally helped resolve the dispute; after nearly 50 years, the power achieved by the turbocharged cars could finally match the 640 hp (477 kW) produced by the supercharged 1937 Mercedes-Benz W125. By 1986, some engines were producing over 1000 bhp (750 kW) in short bursts, which has never been topped apart from the Porsche 917/30 turbo of the early 1970s CanAm races. In order to gain this maximum effect, drivers simply could not slow down. This had the tendency to produce spectacular accidents, and brought an unacceptably high rate of fatalities and serious injuries - mostly badly broken legs due to the seat position (which was moved forward to place the fuel tank between driver and engine). Patrick Depailler was killed in 1980, probably due to the high lateral acceleration causing a black out in Hockenheim's fast Ostkurve. The double blow struck to Ferrari in 1982, of the death of Gilles Villeneuve and the crippling injury to teammate Didier Pironi only a few weeks later, helped bring this crisis into the spotlight, and helped both sides settle the dispute for the good of the sport.

Ironically, despite all of the controversy swirling around the privateers, this period in Formula One provided some of the most colorful and competitive grids ever found in the sport. The cheapness of the Ford-Cosworth DFV encouraged many private entrants to buy or build their own cars to run in the seasons with varying degrees of success. While names like Ensign, Penske, and Theodore came and went without much of an impression, other teams, such as Hesketh, Shadow, Wolf, or Arrows enjoyed more success, and even challenged the established giants of the sport from time to time.

A second golden age

With controversy at last left behind, the Formula One teams flourished through the remainder of the 1980s and into the 1990s. Despite the overwhelming dominance of two teams - McLaren and Williams - this period is regarded as one of the brightest spots in F1's 50 year history (perhaps ironically).

It was, as stated, the era of McLaren and of Williams. Niki Lauda, coming out of retirement for a hefty sum in 1982, pipped his promising young teammate Alain Prost to the title in 1984 by a mere half point, the closest ever finish in Formula One history. That half point in itself was controversial in that it came at the rain-shortened Grand Prix of Monaco, which resulted in half points, too. Prost won that race, but rookie Ayrton Senna made the stronger impression in his Toleman car, finishing 2nd and rapidly closing on Prost (while the young German Stefan Bellof in the inferior non-turbocharged Tyrrell raced from the end of the field to 3rd and might even have taken the win). It was the start of a rivalry between the two men that would continue for nearly a decade. But in the early years, Prost held the advantage, driving for the McLaren team with the Porsche-built TAG turbo engine which took 3 world titles in a row.

1986 provided another close finish. The Honda-powered Williams cars of Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell looked untouchable, but too often they took points from each other, allowing McLaren's Prost to stay in touch. Although Williams easily won the Constructor's Championship that year, it wasn't until the season-ending Grand Prix of Australia that the Driver's title was decided, Prost taking an extremely lucky 2nd title, when both Williams drivers suffered tire problems. 1987 saw the Williams grow only stronger, with Piquet driving more consistent races to take his 3rd title ahead of Mansell.

1987 also saw the return of atmospheric engines to Formula One, after the turbo-only year of 1986. Capacity was increased to 3.5 L, and the turbo engines were restricted in boost pressure and fuel capacity to limit their effect, with a total ban to be introduced in 1989. Nevertheless, while turbo engines lasted, they dominated, Williams winning easily in 1987, and McLaren returning to form in 1988 with the super-team of Prost and Senna winning 15 of 16 races, a record unmatched today. It was Senna who emerged the victor, claiming the first of his 3 World Titles.

In 1989, turbos disappeared, but McLaren dominance continued unabated for the next 3 years, Prost winning the title in 1989, Senna in 1990 and 1991. The championship was marred however by the fierce rivalry between the two men, culminating in a pair of clashes at the Japanese Grands Prix of 1989 and 1990. In 1989 Prost 'closed the door' on his overtaking team mate while Senna even admitted later to deliberately crashing Prost in the second clash, drawing stiff condemnation from all quarters of Formula One. Senna, however, was more concerned with the threat (and opportunity) afforded by the resurgent Willams team, now powered by Renault engines, which were to dominate Formula One for the next 7 years.

All teams began to use carbon fibre mono-coque chassis designs. Far stronger than steel these created a survival shell around the driver and were fireproof making even the most extreme crash or collision survivable. Lightweight television cameras attached to the cars became common in the early 1990s. As well as boosting audience figures this also made the sport more attractive to sponsors beyond the traditional cigarette companies. Safety improvements also meant that the major car manufacturers were more inclined to attach themselves to teams on a rolling basis.

It was more than Renault engines, however, which allowed Williams and later Benetton to dominate Formula One from 1992 to 1997. Refueling at pit stops was reintroduced turning each race into a series of sprints - as a result the race strategy became as important as the drivers ability. Technology, always crucial to performance in this sport, took off at an exponential rate. Semi-automatic gearboxes (pioneered by Ferrari in 1990), active suspension (Lotus in 1987) and traction control (Williams) all enabled cars to reach higher and higher speeds, provided the teams were willing to spend the money. FIA scrambled, mostly in vain, to police and regulate the use of electronic driver aids. But even this controversy didn't diminish the pleasure British fans of the sport felt in 1992, when Nigel Mansell finally won the title, after a decade of trying, nor French fans in 1993 when Alain Prost took his 4th Championship, both drivers piloting Williams cars.

1994, then, seemed ripe to produce a stunning season. Ayrton Senna had moved to Williams to replace Prost, who retired from the sport. Young German driver Michael Schumacher had Ford power for his Benetton. McLaren had high hopes for its new Peugeot engine, and Ferrari were looking to erase the dismal memories of the last 3 years with Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi. The season was stunning, but for all the wrong reasons.

Safety to the fore, an adjustment to devestation

By 1994, the last death in Formula 1 was nearly a decade past, that of Elio de Angelis during testing in 1986. There had been a number of horrifying accidents (for example Nelson Piquet and Gerhard Berger at Imola, or to Martin Donnelly in Spain, but no fatalities. The speed of Formula 1 cars had continuously risen through the 8 years, despite turbocharged engines being made illegal and reducing the size of tyres and eventually removing driver aids. There was an "air of invincibility" in Formula 1, the belief that the cars were inherently safe and drivers wouldn't die anymore.

At the San Marino Grand Prix, and at the subsequent Monaco Grand Prix this belief was crushed completely with the serious injuries sustained by Rubens Barrichello and the death of Roland Ratzenburger in practice and Ayrton Senna during the race on 1 May 1994. Furthermore, Karl Wendlinger was left comatose after a crash, 2 weeks later at Monaco.

The shock from the sudden injuries and deaths was stunning. Not only had 2 drivers died, but a triple world champion and one regarded by many as one of the most brilliant drivers ever to race in Formula 1 had perished over that weekend. The FIA reacted swiftly and harshly with major changes to be enforced from that year onwards, and it was the beginning of the FIA's push to increase safety in Formula 1.

While significant changes could not be made to cars in 1994, the FIA required all Formula 1 car's airboxes to be perforated with a gap to reduce the "ram-air" effect generated by these to reduce power. Furthermore, the vehicles required a wooden "plank" to be fitted underneath the car along a reference line to raise the car a certain minimum height. If the plank was worn over a certain tolerance (approximately 10 millimetres) then the car would be deemed illegal. Racing fuel was banned, only fuel that had similar characteristics to everyday unleaded petrol (available at the fuel pump) was legal.

Further, from 1995, designs were required to be drawn from a reference plane, and strict limitations were enforced as to the minimum and maximum tolerances for aspects of the vehicle (such as the size of the cockpit, the size of aerodynamic devices). Further, the maximum engine size was reduced from 3500cc to 3000cc. Further changes were mandated as the FIA continued to try to curb the increase in overall lap speeds of Formula 1 cars as the years progressed. These changes included the increase in size of the cockpit aperture (to ensure driver egress was easy and to minimise possible side head impacts), introducing grooved tyres (to reduce cornering speeds) and narrower bodywork (this would complicate cooling and also reduce cornering speed), raising and reducing wing sizes and elements (this reduces the amount of aerodynamic downforce generated by the chassis, thus reducing cornering speed) and introducing comprehensive checks on stiffness tolerences and measurements (to ensure that the cars conformed completely with the regulations (for example, weight tests on wings and bodywork to ensure that they maintained integrity and did not flex to give an aerodynamic advantage in a straight line).

The rapid introduction of all of these new rules and regulations - particularly those introduced in 1994 - made the atmosphere even more chaotic for Formula One. Michael Schumacher had to fight desperately for his first World Driver's Championship, as his Benetton team found itself in frequent violations of FIA's regulations, and Schumacher was suspended for several races as a result. Even his championship-clinching race in Australia was controversial, as he clashed with rival Damon Hill, son of Graham Hill, and ensured himself of the title. Although even Hill later called the accident a 'racing incident' it came back to haunt Schumacher later.

By 1995, however, things had settled down somewhat - Schumacher took his second Driver's title, and Benetton, their first Constructor's title with relative ease, defeating the Williams team of Hill and David Coulthard. The Renault engine which powered the two teams was virtually unbeatable, with only Ferrari claiming a single win in Canada for Alesi, the only win of his career. Alesi, and teammate Berger made news again that season after they were essentially traded to Benetton for Schumacher! Promising young Irish driver Eddie Irvine also moved to Ferrari from Jordan, and Ferrari began their master plan to reclaim the titles lost almost two decades earlier.

For 1996, the FIA mandated a much larger minimum size cockpit area, along with driver's head protection, to ensure that the driver's head was less exposed.

But while Renault was still in the game, that looked unlikely. In 1996, Damon Hill made a strong run to the title, finally claiming the crown after 3 years of almost but not quite. In 1997, another son of an F1 racing legend took the titles for Williams once again, as Jacques Villeneuve became the 4th driver to take both the Formula One and CART championship titles, (the others being Andretti, Fittipaldi, and Mansell). This season was much closer than 1996 had been though, and Villeneuve only took the title at the final race. Once again, Michael Schumacher had clashed with his championship rival, but unlike Australia in 1994, the results were not good for the Ferrari driver. Schumacher not only found himself knocked out of the race, but was found to have deliberately tried to ram Villeneuve off of the road. Schumacher was stripped of all of his points (though not the wins he picked up during the season), and was disgraced.

Hope for Ferrari still remained, however, as Renault decided to withdraw from Formula One at the end of 1997. It was not Ferrari, however, who took advantage of the opening, but McLaren-Mercedes who took the Driver's Crown for the next two years, both being claimed by Mika Häkkinen. The 1998 season was bizarre by even Formula 1 standards with many of the familiar names missing or rebadged. The Finn was nearly untouchable as he took his first title while Schumacher and Villeneuve could only watch (Schumacher putting up an admirable, but futile fight). 1999 provided a stiffer fight for the title, with Häkkinen and Ferrari's Irvine fighting to the final race of the season for the right to claim the title. Villeneuve was out of the picture at the brand-new BAR team, while Schumacher's broken leg halfway through the season took him right out of the title hunt. However, although Irvine failed to capture the Driver's title for Ferrari, his, Schumacher's, and replacement driver Mika Salo's efforts gathered Ferrari their first Constructor's championship since 1979.

Behind the title races, however, there were signs of trouble brewing in Formula One. Long-established, highly respected names like Brabham and Lotus vanished from the starting grids. French powerhouse Ligier found themselves in desperate straights, and were sold to Alain Prost. Ken Tyrrell's team foundered on, despite dismal results, until 1998, when they too vanished. And the colorful era of the small, private teams was at last, finally at an end. Names like Larrousse, Dallara, Simtek, Pacific, and Forti would no longer be seen on the starting grids, with only Jordan, Sauber, Arrows and of course Minardi managing to survive somehow. The flourishing of Jordan in 1998 and 1999, under the leadership of Damon Hill, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, and Ralf Schumacher (Michael's brother) proved to be a last hurrah of the privateer, not a sign of health in the sport. Even once mighty Benetton, champions only a few years earlier, were barely surviving. Jackie Stewart fronted his own team from 1996 to 2000 with backing from Ford but even then sold out as the team transformed into Jaguar.

Red sea returns

When Michael Schumacher was brought to Ferrari by Jean Todt in 1996, it was to rebuild the team. Several arduous years of nearly-there followed, but the 1999 season was where it all started. Schumacher was winning the world championship when he broke his leg at Silverstone. However, his team mate Eddie Irvine was able to fight for the championship, losing by only two points to Mika Häkkinen.

The glimmer of hope for the passionate fans of the team that came from this however, was that Ferrari won the constructors championship. This has carried on for the past four years.

2000 saw the grids of Formula One start to revert to normal, as Jordan rapidly faded backwards out of sight, and Williams, looking forward to a new partnership with BMW started to reassert itself. The fight at the front, however, was very much between Häkkinen and Schumacher, each driver a 2 time champion, driving cars that were very nearly matched in performance. This time, however, it was Schumacher who prevailed, becoming the first 3 time Champion since Senna, and bringing the World Driver's title to Ferrari for the first time since Jody Schekter in 1979. The 2001 season saw Ferrari start to leave the rest of the grid behind, and Schumacher won the championship by the Hungarian Grand Prix, which made him joint second quickest championship winner with Nigel Mansell. For 2002, the season was a red-wash. Ferrari finished every race, and won 15 out of 17. Michael Schumacher scored more points than everyone else on the grid together. In this season, he wrapped up the championship at the French grand prix, becoming the quickest person ever to secure a championship.

But while Ferrari celebrated their dominance, the sport itself was seen by many to be in trouble. Two more privateers, Prost and Arrows, had closed their doors for good. Benetton was also no more, the team having been completely bought out by Renault. But even more troubling was the one team in seemingly no danger of disappearing: Ferrari. While Formula One was no stranger to teams monopolizing the winner's stand, Ferrari's actions throughout the 2002 season angered many; in particular the staged finishes of the Austrian Grand Prix and the US Grand Prix. It seemed to many that sportsmanship no longer had a part in Formula One, that it was possible to take the dictum of 'win at all costs' too far. Ratings and attendance noticeably declined in the later half of 2002, a serious problem for a sport which was by far the most expensive in the world by this time.

In 2003, despite heavy rule changes in order to prevent what had happened in 2002 from happening again, Schumacher won the championship once more. He was run close by both Kimi Räikkönen and Juan Pablo Montoya, but Schumacher prevailed, taking the championship by one point at Suzuka. It seemed that 2003 was the perfect balm to ease the memories of the previous season, with 8 different race winners (including first-time victories for Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella) and 5 different teams, including both Renault (for the first time in twenty years) and Jordan, who grabbed a lucky win in a wild Brazilian Grand Prix.

But in 2004 Ferrari and Schumacher returned to almost total dominance of the championships, winning both with ease. A new race in Bahrain made its debut in April and another new race in China debuted in September. It was initially thought that in introducing these new races, older Grands Prix in Europe, like the British Grand Prix, might be removed from the championship, but instead the number of races was increased to eighteen. According to Ecclestone, the move was to increase Formula One's global reach, though the steady tightening of restrictions on tobacco advertising in Europe and elsewhere may also have been a factor.

But despite the Ferrari dominance (taking 15 wins from the 18 races), the battle back in the pack was much more interesting than 2002, as powerhouses McLaren and Williams got off to horrendous starts with radical new cars. As could have been expected, Renault were quick to capitalize on the misfortunes of the two older British teams, but the real shock came from British American Racing, led by Jenson Button. Although failing to win a race, Button was a regular sight on the 2nd or 3rd step of the podium, and with teammate Takuma Sato managed to clinch 2nd place in the Constructors Championship, leaving Renault with 3rd place, Jarno Trulli's win in Monaco some consolation. Montoya and Raikkonen each managed to pick up a solitary win for their teams, which finished 4th and 5th in the results.it:Storia della Formula 1


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