Formula One

Missing image
Cars jockey for position during the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix, one of the nineteen annual Formula One races
Articles related to Formula One:

History of Formula One
Formula One regulations
Formula One cars
Formula One racing
Future of Formula One

Constructors | Grands Prix | Circuits
Champions | Drivers | Other People

Formula One, abbreviated to F1 and also known as Grand Prix racing, is the highest class of single-seat open-wheel formula auto racing. It is a worldwide sport, involving an annual World Drivers Championship and World Constructors Championship, and is the most expensive sport in the world, as annual team budgets average in the hundreds of millions of US dollars. It is based around a series of races (19 in 2005), known as grands prix, on custom-constructed courses or closed-off street circuits.

The sport has traditionally been centred in Europe, which undoubtedly remains its leading market, but races have also been held in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australia. New races in Bahrain and China, one planned for 2005 in Turkey, and others discussed for Mexico, India, Russia and South Africa have reinforced the sport's "worldwide" image.

The sport is regulated by the FIA, F餩ration Internationale de l'Automobile, and is generally promoted and controlled by Bernie Ecclestone.



 and  at  in
Fangio and Moss at Monza in 1955

Main Article: History of Formula One
See List of Formula One Grands Prix for results from past seasons and individual races.

Historically, the Formula One series evolved from the European Grand Prix motor racing (q.v. for pre-1947 history) of the 1920s and 1930s. A number of European racing organizations laid out rules for a World Championship before World War II, but due to the suspension of racing during the war, the drivers championship was not formalized until 1947, and first run in 1950; a championship for constructors followed in 1958. Non-championship Formula One races were held for many years, but due to rising costs and sinking interest, the last of these ended in the early 1980s.

Early years

Missing image
Cover of Road & Track magazine, showing a BRM H16 Formula One engine in car

Giuseppe Farina won the first World Championship in his Alfa Romeo in 1950, barely beating team-mate Juan Manuel Fangio. However, Fangio won the title in 1951 and four more in 1954 through 1957, his streak interrupted by two-time champion Alberto Ascari of Ferrari. Though Stirling Moss was able to compete with him regularly, Fangio is remembered for dominating Formula One's first decade.

The first major technological development, Cinquemani's introduction of mid-engined cars, occurred in the 1950s; Jack Brabham, champion in 1959 and 1960, soon proved the new design's superiority, and it quickly and permanently replaced the front-mounted engine model.

The first British World Champion was Mike Hawthorn, who drove a Ferrari to the title in 1958; however, when Colin Chapman entered F1 as a chassis designer and later founder of Lotus, British racing green came to dominate the field for the next decade. Between Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, and Denny Hulme, British teams and commonwealth drivers won twelve world championships between 1962 and 1973.

In 1962, the Lotus team introduced a car with aluminium sheet chassis called a monocoque in place of the traditional tubular chassis; this proved to be the next major technological breakthrough since the introduction of rear-engined cars. In 1968, Lotus painted Imperial Tobacco livery on their cars, thus introducing sponsorship to the sport. It has since become the teams' biggest source of income by far, and cigarette manufacturers remain a major and controversial financial resource for Formula One.

Aerodynamic downforce had slowly gained importance in car design since the appearance of aerofoils in the late 1960s. In the late 1970s Lotus introduced ground effect aerodynamics that provided enormous downforce and greatly increased cornering speeds.

The formation of the Federation Internationale du Sport Automobile in 1979 set off the FISA-FOCA war, during which FISA and its president Jean Marie Balestre clashed with the Formula One Constructors Association over television profits.

Rise in popularity

1981 saw the signing of the first Concorde Agreement, a contract which bound the teams to compete until its expiration and assured them a share of the profits from the sale of television rights, bringing an end to the FISA-FOCA war and contributing to Bernie Ecclestone's eventual complete financial control of the sport.

The FIA permanently banned Colin Chapman's ground effect aerodynamics in 1983. By then, however, turbocharged engines, which Renault had pioneered in 1977 with their RS01 car, were producing over 1000 bhp (750 kW) and were essential to be competitive. These cars were and still are the most powerful open-wheel circuit racing cars ever, but to reduce speeds, the FIA limited fuel tank capacity and boost pressures before banning turbochargers in 1989.

In the early 1990s, teams started introducing electronic driver aids such as power steering, traction control, and semi-automatic gearboxes. Some were borrowed from contemporary road cars; some, like active suspension, were primarily developed for the track and later made their way to the showroom. The FIA, due to complaints that technology was determining the outcome of races more than driver skill, banned many such aids in 1994.

The teams signed a second Concorde Agreement in 1992 and a third in 1997, which is due to expire on the last day of 2007.

On the track, the McLaren and Williams teams dominated the late 1980s and 1990s. Renault-powered Williams drivers Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Nelson Piquet (the latter with a Honda-powered machine, in 1987) won several world championships, as did McLaren's Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, and Mika H䫫inen. The rivalry between racing legends Senna and Prost became F1's central focus in 1988, and continued until Senna's death in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, after which the FIA vowed to improve the sport's safety standards; since that weekend, no driver has died on the track during a race.

Drivers from McLaren, Williams and Ferrari, dubbed the "Big Three", have won all but two World Championships since 1984; their streak was interrupted only by Michael Schumacher's two titles with Benetton. Due to the technological advances of the 1990s, the cost to compete in Formula One rose dramatically; this increased financial burden, combined with three teams' dominance, caused the poorer independent teams to struggle not only to remain competitive, but to stay in business. Financial troubles forced several teams to withdraw, the most recent examples being Prost and Arrows during the 2002 season.

Modern F1

The official Formula One logo
The official Formula One logo

The early 2000s have been dominated by Michael Schumacher and a resurgent Ferrari, whilst several driver aids returned due in part to rumours that teams were able to evade the restrictions.

During the early 2000s, Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration created a number of trademarks and an official website for the sport ( ( in an attempt to give it a corporate identity. Ecclestone experimented with a digital television package, known as Bernievision, by which a fan could purchase an entire F1 season, but after poor viewing figures in 2002 the program was discontinued.

In the current 2005 season, Ferrari has only won a single race (The US Grand Prix, which was ran under exceptional circumstances which lead to the withdrawal of 7 out of 10 teams). Many theorise this is because of their use of Bridgestone tires (Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi are the only teams that don't use Michelin). Fernando Alonso of Renault and Kimi R䩫k? of McLaren are currently the two drivers most likely to win the championship. This year has also shown the suprising performance improvement of Toyota and Red Bull Racing.

Racing and strategy

Missing image
The BAR team executes a pit stop, refueling Jenson Button's car and changing its tyres at the 2004 French Grand Prix

Main Articles: Formula One racing, Formula One regulations

A Formula One Grand Prix event spans an entire weekend, beginning with two free practices on Friday, and two free practices on Saturday. After these practice sessions, a qualifying session determines a driver’s position on the starting grid for Sunday’s race. For this qualifying session, held on Saturday, drivers set a timed "flying lap" on the empty track with a race fuel load. The drivers take off from the pits within a minute off each other. The start order for the qualifying lap is determined by the previous race’s finish order, with the winning driver of the last race going last. For the first qualifying session of the season the previous year’s championship standing will determine the order. At the end of this session cars are held within the parc ferm駧 and no refueling is allowed until after the start of the race. Teams have to thus plan the optimum fuel load having both the qualifying and the race in mind. The grid order for the race is determined based on the best time from the qualifying session.

In the past it was common for slower cars to receive a "DNQ" (did not qualify) designation, teams can no longer risk the cost of showing up without racing; thus all cars who participate in qualifying take part in the race. The teams may not change anything on the car between the qualifying and the race.

The race begins with a warm-up "parade lap," after which the cars assemble on the starting grid in the order they qualified. If a driver stalls before the parade lap, and the rest of the field passes him, then he must start from the back of the grid. As long as he moves off and at least one car is behind him, he can retake his original position.

A light system above the track then signals the start of the race. Races are a little over 300 kilometres (180 miles) long and are limited to two hours, though in practice they usually last about ninety minutes. Throughout the race, drivers make one or more pit stops in order to refuel.

The FIA awards points to the top eight drivers and their respective teams in each race. The winner of the two annual championships are the driver and the team who have accumulated the most points at the end of the season.

Drivers and constructors

See also: List of Formula One constructors, List of Formula One drivers, List of Formula One people, List of Formula One World Champions

Formula One teams must build the chassis in which they compete, and consequently the terms "team" and "constructor" are interchangeable; this requirement distinguishes the sport from "spec series" such as IRL and NASCAR. In its early years, F1 teams commonly constructed their engines as well. It has since become rare that a team should construct its own engine, and with the involvement of major car manufacturers such as BMW, Daimler Chrysler, Renault, Toyota, and Honda, such privately-built engines have become less competitive.

Early manufacturer involvement came in the form of a "factory team", i.e. one owned and staffed by a major car company, such as those of Alfa Romeo (now defunct) or Renault. Companies such as Cosworth and Supertec, which had no direct team affiliation, often sold engines to teams who could not afford to manufacture them, but these largely died out in favour of the present system, in which one manufacturer supports one team. Though Toyota, Ferrari (FIAT), and Renault still maintain factory teams, BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, and Honda provide engines and sponsorship for privately-owned teams in return for prominent advertisement on their team clothing and car livery. Some smaller teams, such as Sauber, purchase their engines from larger teams. The only remaining commercial engine-manufacturer is Cosworth, which supplies engines for Red Bull Racing and Minardi.

The sport's 1950 debut season saw eighteen teams compete, but due to rising costs many dropped out quickly. Ferrari is the only still-active team which competed in 1950, and during the 2004 season only ten teams remained on the grid, each fielding two cars. Although teams rarely disclose information about their budgets, it is estimated that they average in the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

Entering a team now requires a ?25 million up-front payment to Bernie Ecclestone, which is then repaid to the team over the season. As a consequence, constructors desiring to enter Formula One often prefer to buy an existing team: BAR's purchase of Tyrrell and Midland's purchase of Jordan permitted both of these teams to sidestep the large deposit.

The FIA has awarded the Formula One World Drivers Championship annually since 1950 and the Formula One World Constructors Championship annually since 1958. German driver Michael Schumacher holds the record for having won the most Drivers' Championships (seven) and Ferrari holds the record for having won the most Constructors' Championships (fourteen). Jochen Rindt has the distinction of having been the only posthumous World Champion.

Each car is assigned a number. The previous season's World Drivers Champion is given the number 1, with his team mate given the number 2. Numbers are then assigned according to each team's position in the previous season's World Constructors Championship. There have been exceptions to this rule, such as in 1993 and 1994, when the current World Drivers Champion was no longer competing in Formula One. In this case the drivers for the team of the previous year's champion are given numbers 0 and 2. The number 13 has not been used since 1974, before which it was occasionally assigned at the discretion of individual race organizers.

Grands Prix

Cars wind through the infield section of the  at the
Cars wind through the infield section of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the 2003 United States Grand Prix

See also: List of Formula One Grands Prix

The number of Grands Prix held in a season has varied over the years. Only seven races comprised the inaugural 1950 season; over the years the calendar has more than doubled in size. Though the number of races stayed at sixteen or seventeen since the 1980s, it has reached nineteen in 2005.

Six of the original seven races took place in Europe; the only non-European race in 1950 was the Indianapolis 500, which, due to lack of participation by F1 teams, was later replaced by the United States Grand Prix. The F1 championship gradually expanded to other non-European countries as well: Argentina hosted the first South American grand prix in 1953, and Morocco hosted the first African World Championship race in 1958. Asia (Japan, 1976) and Oceania (Australia, 1985) followed as well. The current nineteen races are spread over the continents of Europe, Asia, Oceania, North America, and South America.

Traditionally, each nation has hosted a single grand prix that carries the name of the country. If a single country hosts multiple grands prix, they receive different names; for example, Germany, Spain and Britain have at various times held a second race known as the European Grand Prix.

The grands prix, some of which have a history that predates the Formula One World Championship, are not always held on the same circuit every year. The British Grand Prix, for example, though held every year since 1950, alternated between Brands Hatch and Silverstone from 1963 to 1986. The only other race to have been included in every World Championship season is the Italian Grand Prix; it has occurred at Monza, except when it was at Imola in 1980.

One of the newest races on the Grand Prix, held in Bahrain, represent Formula One's first penetration into the Middle East with a high tech purpose built desert track. The Bahrain Grand Prix along with other new races in China present new opportunities for the growth and evolution of the Formula One Grand prix franchise while also raising the bar for other Formula One racing venues around the world.


Missing image

See also: List of Formula One circuits

Most of the currently used circuits are specially constructed for competition. The only real street circuit is the Circuit de Monaco, used for the Monaco Grand Prix, though a street race in London has been discussed. Some of the other circuits are also completely or partially laid out on public roads, such as those of Spa-Francorchamps or Montr顬. The glamour and history of the Monaco race are the primary reasons the circuit is still in use, since it does not meet the strict safety requirements imposed on other tracks. Three times World champion Nelson Piquet famously described racing in Monaco as "flying with a helicopter in your living room." However, new tracks such as the Bahrain International Circuit provide new dimensions and challenges for Formula One drivers on the first ever Grand prix desert track with its multiple overtaking opportunities and associated climatic distinctions to other circuits.

Circuit design to protect the safety of drivers is becoming increasingly sophisticated, as exemplified by the new track in Bahrain. Where in the 1950s a driver was lucky to find a strategically placed strawbale to absorb his impact, modern Formula One circuits feature gravel traps and tyre barriers to reduce risk of injury in crashes. This is an ongoing task - after the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger during the 1994 season, the FIA mandated further changes to circuits. These were mostly aimed at better matching how fast a car is travelling when an accident occurs with the runoff space available for it to decelerate and at improving the ability of barriers to safely absorb the energy of a crash.

A typical circuit usually features a stretch of straight road on which the starting grid is situated. The pit lane, where the drivers stop for fuel and tyres during the race, and where the constructors work on the cars before the race, is normally located next to the starting grid. The layout of the rest of the circuit varies widely. Some of the curves on circuits have become well known on their own, such as the high-speed Eau Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps.

The future of Formula One

Main Article: Future of Formula One

Formula One went through a difficult period in the early 2000s. Viewing figures dropped, and fans expressed their loss of interest due to the dominance of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari.

At present, smaller teams suffer from spiralling costs. Safety also remains a key issue. As such, many want to see rule changes to deal with these issues.

Throughout the 2004 season, Formula One Management president Bernie Ecclestone repeatedly voiced his disapproval of the Silverstone Circuit, and suggested that unless its owners, the British Racing Drivers Club, modernise the facilities, the British Grand Prix would not appear on the 2005 schedule. Following failed negotiations with BRDC president Jackie Stewart in October 2004, Ecclestone announced the race's removal from the next season's provisional calendar. The BRDC and Ecclestone have since come to an agreement to extend the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for another five years, through 2009.

Due to financial difficulty, the future of the French Grand Prix also remains in doubt. However, a Turkish Grand Prix will take place in Istanbul, Turkey for the first time in 2005, and a Mexican Grand Prix has been planned for 2006.

Bernie Ecclestone has also made a promise that F1 will return to South Africa within five years. He has begun talks with a consortium planning to build an F1 circuit in Cape Town. Ecclestone has also made a pledge to hold a Russian Grand Prix either in Moscow or St. Petersburg in the near future. He is in nearly continuous talks with potential race promoters all around the world. It is believed that one signicant factor that has F1 searching for venues outside of Europe is the spread of laws in Western nations prohibiting cigarette advertising in sport.

The future of the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis is now in serious doubt after the 2005 race turned into a farce that saw only six of the planned 20 cars take the green flag, due to concerns about tire safety and political wrangling between constructors and the FIA. However, Ecclestone is reportedly trying to bring the U.S. Grand Prix to Las Vegas.

Rule changes

For 2005, there has been a radical overhaul of the technical regulations. Drivers are only able to use one set of tyres per race, with pitstops for tyre changes being banned (unless the tyre is damaged). Restrictions have also been placed upon downforce in an attempt to slow the cars down and each engine must be used for two consecutive races.

A revised qualifying format was used for the first part of 2005 season. For each race, two separate sessions were run: the first qualifying session took on the day before the race (Saturday) at 13:00; the second qualifying session started four hours before the start of Sunday's race: in both qualifying sessions each driver will drive a single timed lap. The starting order for the first qualifying session was the previous race classification reversed; in the second qualifying session it was the first session classification reversed. The starting grid was drawn up according to the fastest aggregate time of each driver, taking into account both qualifying sessions. Cars were required to carry their race fuel in the second qualifying session; refuelling was not allowed between this and the race.

Starting from the Grand Prix of Europe 2005, a new qualifying method has replaced the two-day aggregate qualifying. This new format consists of one saturday qualifying session on the day before the race at 13:00 CET, except in the races taking part in the USA and in Canada where it starts at 12:00 (local time). The starting order for this qualifying session is the previous race classification reversed. Cars must carry race fuel amounts during this Saturday afternoon session and refulling is not permitted between qualifying and the race.

Beginning with the 2006 season, the power of engines will also be decreased. A 2.4L V8 will be used instead of the 3L V10. However, some teams will be allowed to continue using the V10 with a rev limiter in order to cut costs. The switch to smaller engines may not mean a signifigant decrease in power, however, because some engine suppliers have already indicated that their smaller V8s can rev higher than the 19,000rpms normal for the current V10s. In the long run, the FIA intends to introduce greater restrictions on testing and the introduction of standardized electronic units and tyres.

Small teams

The Ford Motor Company's decision to pull out of Formula One exposed the vulnerability of some small teams. Jaguar Racing was put up for sale and bought by Red Bull; it is now known as Red Bull Racing.

As for other teams, Jordan and Minardi both relied on Ford's Cosworth engines. Jordan have now clinched a deal to use Toyota engines. Minardi, on the other hand, will continue to use Cosworth engines under Cosworth's new owners. The chances have been greatly reduced, but if a team were to pull out before the beginning of the 2005 season, larger teams would have to enter three cars into each race to make up the numbers, as there must be 20 cars entering each race.

Three new teams are intending to enter Formula One - BMW, Midland F1 and Team Dubai. Midland F1 have decided to buy Jordan Grand Prix, thereby avoiding having to pay the large deposit required to enter Formula One. Similarly, BMW are buying the Sauber team.


See also

External links


Official sites

News and reference

  • ( — F1 news and a Grand Prix encyclop椩a
  • ( — News, results, information, and statistics
  • ( — News, pictures, and commentary from ITV, F1's British broadcasters; also from Matt Bishop and F1 Racing magazine
  • Fuji TV - F1 ( — Results and ranking from Fuji TV, F1's Japanese
  • f1live ( — News, pictures, live results, information and many more


  • Formula One DataBase ( — History, and statistics
  • FORIX ( — Formula One Results, Information, Statistics
  • ( Directory of the automobile sport

Insight and commentary

  • ( — An online F1 magazine (subscription required)
  • Fun-1 ( — Daily satirical commentary on current F1 news
  • ( — Weblog containing regular F1 news and commentary
  • Funo! ( — Texts, numbers, images and statistics of Formula 1

Other sites

  • ( — latest news, results, images, articles from the exciting world of Formula 1 racing

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools