Thinking of Tennis, Football, Golf, Cricket but people tends to forget that the largest money investing sport is Formula 1! From cars, engines, tyres, fuel to sponsorships it is arguably the only sport which requires more money than any other but it’s not only about money , the game instead has become a stepping stone for the common men to earn respect through a game which was majorly a rich class a few decades back. Then came the staging of the races in countries like China , India which are developing nations where the majority of the population watches Badminton, Cricket, Table Tennis and the people gets involved in them from their childhood but the advent of Formula 1 has drastically changed the course of time. Now we could see youngsters getting involved in kart races and slowly advancing towards Formula2 racing and then people competing highly in these races has had the privilege of racing in Formula 1. Formula 1 has had a great impact on the people, they want to come to the race tracks to see the fierce speed of the cars going over 320 km/hr, the noise they make, the skidding of cars and last but not the least the racing superstars.
Formula 1 has had quite an interesting piece of history.Formula1 (the word formula refers to the set of rules and regulations that were set by Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) the body that runs the game) was initially called Formula A. But people started calling it as Formula One and thus it became official in 1950. At the European Grand Prix of 1920s and 1930s the idea of Formula 1 came into being- the sport in which the world would see the fastest racing cars but officially it all started with a world driver’s championships in 1950.The race was staged at Silverstone, England. The constructors who dominated the starting championship was an Italian team named Alfa Romeo and teams like Ferrari and Maserati were quite competitive. The inaugural championship was won by Giuseppe Farina although the driver to watch out for was Juan Manuel Fangio who won the next five championships with five different manufacturers. It was not an easy beginning. In 1952 and 1953 the lack of entrants meant the authorities ran races to Formula Two regulations, with Alberto Ascari winning the championship in both years. Of the 20 makes that competed in 1950, most were soon forced out by the cost. Only Ferrari have competed since the off. The death toll in races was gruesome – 13 drivers were killed in F1 cars in the first decade. The cars made considerable technological advances. The first seasons were run using pre-war cars like Alfa’s 158. They were front engined, with narrow-treaded tyres and 1.5 litre supercharged or 4.5 litre normally aspirated engines. When Formula One regulations returned in 1954 engines were limited to 2.5 litres. Mercedes Benz made major developments until they withdrew from all motor sports in the aftermath of the 1955 disaster at Le Mans. In the late 1950s Cooper introduced a rear-engine car and by 1961 all manufacturers were running them. As an added incentive for the teams, a constructors’ championship was introduced in 1958.
[box_dark] An era of British dominance was ushered in by Mike Hawthorn’s championship win in 1958, although Stirling Moss had been at the forefront of the sport without ever securing the world title. Between Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, and Denny Hulme British and Commonwealth drivers won nine drivers’ championships and British teams won ten constructors’ titles between 1962 and 1973. The iconic British Racing Green Lotus, with a revolutionary aluminum-sheet chassis instead of the traditional space-frame design, was the dominant car, and in 1968 the team broke new boundaries when they were the first to carry advertising on their cars.[/box_dark]
In 1970 Lotus’ Jochen Rindt won the drivers’ championship posthumously, the only man to do so, underlining the continuing risks. His replacement as Lotus’ No. 1, was young Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, he then split the next four championships, with Jackie Stewart taking 1971 and 1973 for the new Team Tyrrell and Fittipaldi 1972 and 1974.
The cars became faster and slicker – Lotus again were the innovators when they introduced ground-effect aerodynamics that provided enormous downforce and greatly increased cornering speeds – by the early 1970s the days of private entries were all but over as the costs of racing rocketed. Not only that, with the advent of turbocharged cars, speeds and power also raced ahead.
[box_light]Safety remained a concern – Stewart retired on the eve of what would have been his final race following the death of his close friend and team mate Francois Cevert in practice ahead of the 1973 US Grand Prix. In 1975 Fittipaldi refused to drive in the Spanish Grand Prix which was stopped after 29 laps when a car ploughed into the crowd, killing four spectators.[/box_light]
[box_dark]In the early 1970s Bernie Ecclestone rearranged the management of Formula One’s commercial rights, turning the sport into a billion-dollar global business. In 1971 he bought the Brabham team and so gained a seat on the Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA) and in 1978 became its president. Until Ecclestone, circuit owners controlled many aspects of the sport; he persuaded the teams of their worth and the value of negotiating as a coordinated unit.[/box_dark]
To combat the phenomenal power of cars, restrictions were brought in and eventually turbochargers were banned altogether in 1989. In the 1980s electronic drivers aids began to emerge (again Lotus were at the forefront) and by the early 1990s semi-automatic gearboxes and traction control were a natural progression
McLaren and Williams continued to rule the roost in the 1990s. In all, McLaren won 16 championships (seven constructors’, nine drivers’) in that period, while Williams matched them with 16 titles of their own (nine constructors’, seven drivers’). But the rivalry between Prost and Senna ended in 1993 with Prost’s retirement and then in 1994 Senna died at Imola. His death was a watershed, in that it led to considerable increases in safety standards – no driver has died at the wheel of an F1 car since then. The FIA introduced measures to slow the cars and improve their safety.
Since Senna’s incident there haven’t been any other deaths in Formula 1 till date. Aryton Senna was , is and still considered the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time. Then came the reign of Michael Schumacher who won a total of 7 world championships and lead Ferrari to six consecutive constructor’s title between 1999-2004.His record hasn’t been broken till now. In 2010 Sebastian Vettel of Germany became the youngest Formula 1 champion and followed it up with another championship in 2011 and became the youngest consecutive world champion. He also broke Nigel Mansell’s record of most poles in a season 2011.This just shows the undying competitiveness of the sport with these future young guns firing from all corners.
[box_light] From 2000 manufacturer-owned teams returned with success – McLaren the exception – as Renault, BMW,Toyota, Honda and Ferrari dominated the championship, and through the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association (GPMA) they negotiated a larger share of Formula One’s commercial profit and a greater say in the running of the sport. The global expansion of Formula One continued with new races in lucrative markets in the far and Middle East.[/box_light]
The latest frontier which has been conquered on the Formula 1 calendar is India. A country mad for the game of cricket interestingly created immense popularity for F1 which saw Bollywood stars, cricketers, and the corporate sector getting involved. It also overtook cricket in terms of television viewers crossing 20 million viewership during the month of October 2011 when the Indian Grand Prix was staged at the Budh International Circuit in New Delhi.
[box_dark] Formula 1 will always enthral those who are not light hearted and for them who love living a fast flowing life.[/box_dark]