Formula 1 is the highest class of single-seater car racing in the world, and has remained one of the premier forms of any worldwide motorsport since its inception in 1950.
Governed by the FIA, the Formula 1 season consists of a series of Grand Prix – races in which each of its 20 drivers and ten teams must participate, in order to score points which contribute to two championships – The World Drivers Championship – for drivers, and the World Constructors Championship – for teams.
Grand Prix can only take place on the best (Grade 1 as determined by the FIA) tracks and street courses in countries across the world, due to the high speeds of Formula 1 cars and the requirement for the utmost safety of both competitors and spectators.
Traditionally Formula 1 has its base in Europe, but with a global demand for races, 11 of the 21 races in 2018 take place outside Europe, in countries such as China, Singapore, Russia, Australia, Bahrain and the USA.
US corporation Liberty Media own a controlling interest in Formula 1, although the FIA remain in charge of the sporting rules, regulations and governance.
The ‘Formula’ is the set of rules that cars allowed to enter Formula 1 must abide by, and the 1 signifies that it is the top echelon of the sport.
A new formula was agreed post war, which replaced the existing European Grand Prix season, and included five Grand Prix in which drivers could score points towards a World Championship.
The first Formula 1 Grand Prix was held at Silverstone in May 1950, and won by Guiseppe Farina who also went on to win the 1950 Formula 1 World Championship for Alfa Romeo.
Four Drivers titles followed for Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and two for Italian Alberto Ascari (Italy’s last World Champion) before the Constructors Championship was introduced in 1958.
This period was dominated by road car manufacturers, Alfa-Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes and Maserati, but this was to come to a halt when British ‘garagistas’ as they were disparagingly known among the Ferraris and the Maseratis of the F1 world arrived in the sport, and outsmarted the car giants by replacing their antiquated technology and brute force with innovation: lightweight cars, smaller engines situated behind the driver, monocoque chassis, greater consideration for aerodynamics and weight distribution.
With these new breed of cars, British drivers – (Jim Clark, John Surtees, Graham Hill & Jackie Stewart) and teams (Lotus, BRM, Tyrrell, Cooper & McLaren) won 22 titles between 1959 and 1974.
At the beginning of the 1970s, advertising was commonplace on Formula 1 cars and when Bernie Ecclestone stepped in to renegotiated the commercial rights of the sport it became big business.
Aerodynamics began to play an ever increasing part in the design of Formula 1 cars allowing them to corner faster and faster, and a bi-product of that was the increased danger to the lives of those brave souls who drove them.
The FIA had to work hard to introduce measures to combat the speed and power of Formula 1 cars, ensuring they were as safe as practically possible, but often due to even the top Grand Prix tracks being poorly equipped to cope with an accident the magnitude of which we were now seeing, fatalities in this period were commonplace.
Alongside the dominance of the British teams, the ever-present Ferrari continued to rack up titles – but the end of the 1970s signalled the beginning of a lean couple of decades for the Scuderia as the British constructors continued to dominate.
First Williams, then Brabham and McLaren sealed every championship of the turbo-engined 1980s, when iconic drivers such as Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna came to the fore.
McLaren and Williams dominance continued into the non-turbo 1990s – where they were joined by Benetton who won a couple of titles before Ferrari were finally able to add to their tally of titles in 2000 with Michael Schumacher.
By now the championship had grown to 17 races over the course over a nine month season.
Schumacher’s first World Championship for Ferrari began a five year stretch where they were unbeatable, despite the best efforts of Williams and McLaren.
Renault finally broke Ferrari’s stranglehold in 2005, adding a second drivers title in 2006 before Ferrari, McLaren and Brawn took a couple each.
2010 saw Red Bull dominate for a time, until new regulations were brought in to both level the playing field and make the cars more economical and environmentally sound.
Mercedes capitalised on this and with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have won every title since 2014.