In seven decades, Formula 1 has grown from a competition for enthusiastic amateurs into a big money, professional sport loved by millions of fans around the world. The concept today is the same as the first World Championship race in 1950. Highly skilled drivers race against each other in the fastest cars at high-speed circuits across the globe. The locations include historic Monza on the outskirts of Milan, the tight and twisty streets of Monte Carlo or modern state-of-the-art facilities in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. This December, the city of Jeddah will be the latest addition to the schedule.
Since 1950, the aim for every driver is to be crowned Drivers’ World Champion, by beating the opposition to the finish line and gaining more points than their rivals. On track, racers duel at death-defying speeds of over 200mph, where the margin between victory and disaster is only millimetres away.
Over 71 years, the intoxicating drama of wheel-to-wheel battles fought between rival teams and drivers has made Formula 1 the third highest-watched sport globally, behind the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.
One of the overwhelming appeals is the speed of a modern F1 car. The performance figures are staggering. Powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid engine, they can accelerate from 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds! Perhaps more impressively, the braking performance slows an F1 car from 210mph to 80mph in just 120 metres. With such speeds, accidents can occur, but thankfully advances in safety has meant injuries or deaths are no longer commonplace.
Today, drivers wear full-length fireproof overalls and a reinforced lightweight helmet, unlike their early predecessors who wore open neck shirts and cloth caps. The modern driver is an athlete who needs to withstand the physical toll of racing for nearly two hours in hot and humid conditions or even torrential rain…
Since the inaugural race of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 1950, there have been over 1,000 Grand Prix races [from the French for Grand Prize] and 33 drivers from 13 nations have been crowned champions. Legends such as Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton have become household names.
But this is a sport for both man and machine. Title winners have sat at the wheel of some of the most famous car brands in the world. Prestigious manufacturers Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren compete against independent teams Williams and Red Bull Racing. In total, ten constructors make up the current grid, with two drivers per team. And the budgets for these operations are staggering. The top outfits spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year, employing nearly 1,000 staff to create the most technologically advanced cars in the world.
Ten teams, twenty drivers and 23 races make up the fastest, most-spectacular motor racing series on the planet and it’s coming to Saudi Arabia this December. Don’t miss it!