High Speeds and Fancy Cars: Where Formula One Comes from and How it Works

While lots of people have been watching Formula One for many years, the sport has recently become even more poplar among non-car lovers. The common sentiment used to be that F1 was just for thrill-seeking “petrol heads” who had a keen interest in cars and mechanics. However, these days, racing has become far more accessible to “ordinary” people.

Getting into F1 as a relative outsider can be difficult, but it proves to be about more than just revving engines and showing off fancy body work. Formula One is, surprisingly for many, a team sport that involves not only the famous drivers, but their large teams of mechanics and managers too. It’s about using tactics to manage the teams two drivers, making judgement calls about changing tires, teamwork during pit stops, communication between the teams and drivers and so much more.

Before we delve into the details, let’s cover the basics.

What is Formula One?

Formula One, commonly referred to as F1, is a series of motor car races that take place at predetermined tracks all around the world. The cars that participate are the fastest four-wheeled, open-cabin, single-seater, open-wheel vehicles in the world.

When F1 was first introduced, there were no limits on the design of the cars, including things like size and weight. However, this quickly proved to be a bit of a problem, with some cars far superior to others due to these things, creating an unfair playing field. In addition to just being unfair, however, it was also dangerous, leading to a few drivers getting seriously hurt and a few losing their lives.

As a result, the FIA was introduced in 1094– the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile – with its headquarters based in Paris. The responsibility of the FIA is to keep all the different competing cars and teams in check. Shortly after the Second World War, the FIA introduced a set of strict rules in an attempt to keep things both fair and safe.

The Origins of Formula One

F1 was initially part of the European Championship of Grand Prix races. Just before the start of WW2,  a set of guidelines and rules were decided upon, however, racing didn’t go ahead during the war. Thus, eventually, in 1946 after the end of the war, a new set of rules was laid out for F1. In 1947, after much planning and waiting, the first World Drivers’ Championship was held and won by Achille Varzi in an Alpha Romeo.

In 1950, the first ever World Championship race was held at Silverstone racetrack and was won by another Alpha Romeo driver, Giuseppe Farina. It was only in 1958, nearly a decade later, that the Constructor’s Championship was introduced – then, however, it was called the International Cup for F1 Manufacturers. In the first year of the cup having been introduced, it was won by Vanwall.

These days, F1 is quite different to what it was when it started out – the rules are very different, the cars have evolved, and the viewership has increased dramatically. One thing’s for sure, watching Formula One is still as exciting as playing online Australian bingo. While the races may have changed, the adrenalin infused action has only improved.