Formula One, also known as F1 racing began as early as the 1920s. The unique racing car sport originated in Europe and was initially called Grand Prix Motor racing. The sport underwent many changes in its rules and the essential “formula” after World War II. Grand Prix Motor racing was given a new formula – known today as Formula One around the mid-twentieth century, which gave precedence to the later established, Word Championship racing rules and the first Word Champion race in 1950. The introduction of team sponsorship and some technological upgrades to the race cars themselves over the years turned Formula One racing into a billion dollar industry.
There is a lot to be learned about a Formula One racing season today, as it has evolved into a dynamic series of racing events. Each Formula One racing season is comprised of a series of races that are also known as as the Grands Prix, which in English, means Grand Prizes. The Grands Prix is held on a combination of purpose-built circuits and public roads. The results of each of these smaller races within the Grands Prix are used to determine two annual World Championships: one for drivers and one for constructors.
Before they are eligible to race or participate in the Grands Prix – all drivers, constructor teams, organizers, track officials, and circuits are required to hold a valid Super License, which is the highest class of racing license issued by the Fdration Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). The FIA is a non-profit sports federation that since 1904 has essentially been the governing body or organization representing the interests of motoring organizations, auto racing events, and motor car users.
It makes sense that the FIA would require Formula One race participants to hold the highest class of racing license available, mostly because the Formula one cars themselves are held to the highest racing standards in the industry of car racing. As a result, Formula One cars are considered to be the fastest circuit-racing cars in the world.
Formula One cars can go as fast as 360 km/h (220 mph) and reach a lateral acceleration in excess of 5 g in corners. The performance of Formula One cars is said to rely heavily on aerodynamics, suspension and tires. Aerodynamics has become such a key component for Formula one race cars, that tens of millions of dollars of research is put into new technologies by the teams each year in this sector. Aerodynamics are considered in every single aspects of the Formula One car – from the shape of the suspension links right down to the driver’s helmet. Researchers are constantly worrying about two things when it comes to aerodynamics: down force and drag. The creation of down force pushes the car’s tires onto the track improving the car’s cornering force ability. Reducing drag helps increase car speed caused by turbulence.
For a Formula One car – suspension is a key component when it comes to performance. The suspension of a modern Formula One car is the critical interface between the various elements that work together to produce its performance. The suspension also harnesses the power of the engine and the downforce (created by the wings and aerodynamic pack and the grip of the tyres) allowing the perfect combination for fast on track driving.
Aerodynamics and hooked up suspension are key components for success in Formula One racing, however without the right tires, there is no hope for a win. The racing tire is made of very soft rubber, which offer the best possible grip against the texture of the racetrack. These tires tend to wear very quickly while in use however.
Since the most recent regulation change in 2009, two different tire compounds are available to each team at every Grand Prix weekend, and every driver must make use of both specifications during the race. The actual softness of the tire rubber is varied by changes in the proportions of ingredients added to the rubber, of which the three main ones are carbon, sulphur and oil. Essentially, the more oil in a tire, the softer it will be. Formula One tires are normally filled with a special, nitrogen-rich air mixture.
A typical Grand Prix racing event normally lasts one week. Teams are allowed three practice sessions before the official race. There is a qualifying session that is held to determine the order for the actual race. The qualifying period is referred to as the “knock-out”. During the knock-out sessoin, drivers pursue three rounds, racing for a fast enough time to move on to the next round. Participants are knocked out until there are 10 participants remaining. The third and final round is then completed in order to establish each participant’s pole position.
During the official race, participants form along the starting grid in the order they qualified. To start off, a warm-up lap is taken so that each driver can establish the conditions of the race track. The winner of the race is the first to cross the finish line, having completed a set number of laps.
After the race, participants are awarded are certain number of points. As of 2010, the top 10 cars are awarded either 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, or 1 points, with the winner receiving 25 points and 10th place receiving 1 point. The total number of points won at each race are totaled, and the driver and constructor with the most points at the end of the season are World Champions.
Formula One racing has come a long way since it’s inception in the early twentieth century. The development and growth of the sport itself into a multi-billion dollar venture as well as the number of Grands Prix being held today are a testament to the increasing popularity of the sport.