Formula 1 refers to those set rules to which all participants in a car racing competition must comply with. It was originally referred to as Formula A and it traces its roots back to the World War 2 era where the European drag race was one of the main events. The first plans for Formula 1 championship were first discussed in the 1930s but was later shelved due to the onset of World War 2. In 1946, the idea for the competition resurfaced and the first F1 races were held in the first year.
The Drivers’ Championship was launched
Following the 1946 tournament, the maiden edition of the F1 drivers’ championship was launched in 1947 but it was until 1950 that the details of the tournament to be revealed. The first World Championship was held on May 1950 in the city of Silverstone but the first F1 tournament was held in April of the same year, in the city of Pau.
Aside from the main F1 events, the non-championship races were also held until the year 1983 when the costs of such championships became unbearable for the organizers. The earliest F1 races were dominated by the manufacturers of pre-war racing cars such as Mercedes Benz, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Ferrari. The winner of the inaugural F1 race in the 1950s was Giuseppe Farina, but Juan Manuel Fangio dominated the 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1957 races with different automobile manufacturers.
Advancement in Formula 1 Cars
The pre-war cars like Alfa-158 featured front engines with narrow-threaded tyres, and their engines were either 1.5 turbo-charged or 4.5litre aspirated options. With the return of formula one regulations in 1954, the engines were restricted to the 2.5-liter options due to safety reasons. The 1955 disaster at the Le Mans, France racing competition forced Mercedes Benz to withdraw its motorsport cars.
In 1958 the era of the British dominance in Formula 1 was ushered in, especially with the excellent win from Mike Hawthorn in the same year. Between 1962 and 1973, the F1 championships were dominated by British racers, including; Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme, John Surtees, Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, and Stirling Moss.
This was also the era when the British Green Lotus racing car became popular. It was characterized by its aluminum sheet chassis that replaced the usual space-framed chassis. In 1068, the British racing teams became the first team to carry advertisements on their racing car, thus breaking that history.
The first posthumous winner of F1 is Lotus Jochen Rindt who won the award in 1970. Emmerson Fittipaldi, a young Brazilian became the youngest F1 winner in 1972 while Jackie Stewart won the championship in 1971 and 1973, Fittipaldi won the championship in 1972 and 1974.
Formula 1 Cars Became Faster and Slicker
With ground-breaking aerodynamics, F1 cars became faster than ever before, with the arrival of private entries into the game. The coming of private entities made the cost of F1 racing skyrocket even though new turbo-charged cars offered more speed and power. Safety became a major concern following the death of Francois Cevert, ahead of the 1973 Grand Prix and in 1975 Grand Prix, an F1 car drove into the crowd and killed 4 people.
In 1975 Ferrari became the powerhouse of F1 with popular drivers- Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni, who won three titles in 1975.
Lotus led another ground-breaking new racing cars in 1978, they were able to introduce new cars with underbody effects and side skirts to give the racing car a firmer grip on the road. Mario Andretti was a beneficiary of this super-fast car and he went on to win 16 races, though the year witnessed another tragedy, with the death of famous racer- Ronnie Peterson.
In the early 1980s, F1 drivers like Alan Jones, Nelson Piquet, and Ferrari’s duo of Didier Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve dominated the F1 races.
Turbo engines have been ruling the F1 racing scenes since they first appeared in 1977 and in 1984 the era of McLaren began in which the McLaren drivers won 7 out of 8 titles in 8 years with drivers like Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. In 1988, team Zenith came on board and won 15 out of 16 races before the turbo was banned in 1989. In the late 1980s, electronic aids started appearing in race cars, and it was spear-headed by Lotus, and by early 1990s traction control and semi-automatic gearboxes were introduced and this was the era when McLaren and Williams became the main players. Between1990 and 2008, even though some 28 teams were more prominent in the Formula 1 racing scene the most dominant drivers of this era were Michael Schumacher and Ferrari who both won 5 consecutive drivers’ championships and 6 consecutive constructors titles.
Championship rules have been constantly changed for safety reasons since the year 2002 by the FIA, forcing the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association to change the design and components of their racing cars frequently.
Formula 1 pundits believe that the F1 race is more about the auto racing car designers and technicians than the drivers. The reason being that the constant changing of rules had made it possible for these car manufacturers to include special features that gave winners competitive edges over the rest. The fact that few teams dominated the formula One sport means that the sport is all about the technicians. With the likes of McLaren, Renault, Williams, and Ferrari winning on F1 champions between 1984 and 2008 alongside the soaring costs of Formula One events have widened the gap between the top four players and the rest. Between 1990 and 2008, at least 28 teams participated in the F1 series but today, only 4 remain popular while the rest made some temporary showing. Pundits on the F1 sports believe that the FIA needs to do more about regulating the influence of technicians and car manufacturers in assisting F1 drivers to dominate the sport and make it more competitive.