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F1, Formula 1

Formula 1, also known as Formula One or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single-seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). The “formula”, designated in the name, refers to a set of rules with which all participants’ cars must comply. The F1 season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix (from French, originally meaning grand prizes), held on purpose-built circuits and public roads. The results of each race are combined with a points system to determine two annual World Championships, one for the drivers and one for the constructors. The racing drivers, constructor teams, track officials, organizers, and circuits are required to be holders of valid Super Licences, the highest class of racing licence issued by the FIA.

Formula One cars are among the fastest circuit-racing cars in the world, owing to very high cornering speeds achieved through the generation of large amounts of aerodynamic downforce. Formula One cars race at speeds of up to 320 km/h (200 mph) with engines limited in performance to a maximum of 18,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). The cars are capable of lateral acceleration in excess of 5 g in corners. The performance of the cars is very dependent on electronics – although traction control and other driving aids have been banned since 2008 – and on aerodynamics, suspension and tyres. The formula has had much evolution and change through the history of the sport. Europe, the sport’s traditional base, is where about half of each year’s races occur. That said, the sport’s scope has expanded significantly during recent years and an increasing number of Grands Prix are held on other continents.

Formula One had a total global television audience of 527 million people during the course of the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship. Such racing began in 1906 and, in the second half of the 20th century, became the most popular kind of racing internationally. The Formula One Group is the legal holder of the commercial rights. With annual spending totalling billions of US dollars, Formula One’s economic effect and creation of jobs is significant, and its financial and political battles are widely reported. Its high profile and popularity make it a merchandising environment, which results in great investments from sponsors and budgets in the hundreds of millions for the constructors. However, mostly since 2000, due to the always increasing expenditures, several teams, including works teams from car makers and those teams with minimal support from the automotive industry, have become bankrupt or been bought out by companies wanting to establish a team within the sport; these buyouts are also influenced by Formula One limiting the number of participant teams.

Points system

Various systems for awarding championship points have been used since 1950. As of 2010, the top ten cars are awarded points, the winner receiving 25 points. The total number of points won at each race are added up, and the driver and constructor with the most points at the end of the season are World Champions. If both a team’s cars finish in the points, they both receive Constructors Championship points. Nevertheless, the Drivers and Constructors Championships often have different results.

To receive points, a driver must be classified. Strictly speaking, in order to be classified, a driver need not finish the race, but complete at least 90% of the winner’s race distance. Therefore, it is possible for a driver to receive some points even if he retired before the end of the race.

In the event that less than 75% of the race laps are completed by the winner, only half of the points listed in the table are awarded to the drivers and constructors for the listed positions. This has happened on only five occasions in the history of the championship, and it has decided the championship winner on one occasion. The last occurrence was at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix when the race was called off after 31 laps due to torrential rain. This was the first time half points were awarded since the 1991 Australian Grand Prix.

A driver can switch teams during the season and, for the Drivers Championship, keep all points gained at the previous team.

In 2010, Formula One modified its points system, giving points to the first ten drivers instead of eight or six in previous years.

Points awarded for finishing
Position Points
1st 25
2nd 18
3rd 15
4th 12
5th 10
6th 8
7th 6
8th 4
9th 2
10th 1

Grands Prix

The number of Grands Prix held in a season has varied over the years. Only seven races comprised the inaugural 1950 world championship season; over the years the calendar has almost tripled in size. Though the number of races had stayed at sixteen or seventeen since the 1980s, it peaked at nineteen in both 2005 & 2010. The 2011 season was expected to have 20 races, however there were only 19 races as the Bahrain Grand Prix was postponed, then later cancelled due to political disputes in the country. The 2012 season has 20 races.

Six of the original seven races took place in Europe; the only non-European race that counted towards the World Championship in 1950 was the Indianapolis 500, which, due to lack of participation by F1 teams, since it required cars with different specifications from the other races, 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 in 1976) and Oceania (Australia in 1985) followed. The twenty races of the 2012 Formula One season are spread over the continents of Europe, Asia, Oceania plus North and South America.

Traditionally each nation has hosted a single Grand Prix, which carries the name of the country. If a single country hosts multiple Grands Prix in a year they receive different names. For instance, a European country (such as Britain, Germany or Spain) which has hosted two Grands Prix has the second one known as the European Grand Prix, while Italy’s second grand prix was named after nearby republic of San Marino. Similarly, as two races were scheduled in Japan in 1994/1995, the second event was known as the Pacific Grand Prix. In 1982, the United States hosted three Grands Prix.

The Grands Prix, some of which have a history that pre-dates 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 season is the Italian Grand Prix. The World Championship event has taken place exclusively at Monza with just one exception: in 1980, it was held at Imola, host to the San Marino Grand Prix until 2006.

One of the newer races on the Grand Prix calendar, held in Bahrain, represents Formula One’s first foray into the Middle East with a high-tech purpose-built desert track. The Bahrain Grand Prix, and other new races in China and Turkey, present new opportunities for the growth and evolution of the Formula One Grand Prix franchise while new facilities also raise the bar for other Formula One racing venues around the world. In order to make room on the schedule for the newer races, older or less successful events in Europe and the Americas have been dropped from the calendar, such as those in Argentina, Austria, Mexico, France and San Marino.

Even more recent additions to the calendar include the Singapore Grand Prix which, in September 2008, hosted the first night race ever held in Formula One, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which hosted the first day-to-night race in November 2009, the Korean Grand Prix, first held in October 2010 and the Indian Grand Prix, first held in October 2011.

The United States Grand Prix will return in Austin, Texas at the new Circuit of the Americas from 2012 to 2021, the Grand Prix of America will be held in New Jersey from 2013 at the Port Imperial Street Circuit and a Russian Grand Prix will be hosted in Sochi from 2014 to 2020 at a circuit at the new Sochi Olympic Park.

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