The Early History of Formula One Racing

Ever since its inaugural world championship in 1950, Formula One racing has established itself as the world’s most popular and profitable motor sports. Although much has changed since the sport’s inception in regards to the rules, the cars and, indeed, the drivers, the high paced drama and “blink and you’ll miss it” action have remained the same. Television viewing figures and ticket sales are on the rise, and the sponsorship money involved in the sport is too.

The Roots of Formula One

As an official sport, Formula One was first defined in 1946 by the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) as the premier single seater racing category in the world of sport. However, Formula One’s roots can be traced back as early as the 1920s when Grand Prix motor racing was hugely popular in Europe. Once the sport had been defined in 1946, the Federation Internationale de ‘Automobiles (FIA) began standardising its rules in and the first ever Formula One driver’s world championship was established in 1950.

Driver’s World Championship

The first ever Formula One world championship consisted of 6 “major” Grand prix events in Europe and the Indianapolis 500 and was won by Italian Nino Farina representing the Alfa Romeo team. Indeed, during the early years of the world championships, it would be the Italian teams of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati who would dominate the sport.

Constructor’s World Championship

1958 saw the introduction of the Formula One constructor’s championship. Although the general rules of the sport remained the same, races were shortened from 300 miles to 200 miles, while cars were also required to use Avgas as opposed to alternative fuel mixtures. These measures were introduced help level the playing field, and it was the British constructor Vanwall who took the first ever constructor title. Also that year, Mike Hawthorn driving for the Ferrari team became the first ever Britain to claim the driver’s title.

World Acclaim

By the end of the 1960’s, Formula One had established itself as one of the world’s most popular sports. Driver’s such as Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill were household names, while the cars themselves were the talk of every race fan in the world. Inevitably, sponsorship money arrived, with many constructor teams being bankrolled by big firms and companies. With an almost limitless supply of investment being pumped into the sport, car manufacturers were able to develop new technologies and it wasn’t long before teams such as Ferrari and McLaren began shaping the direction Formula One cars would take for the next half century.

Image: Tan Kian Khoon – Fotolia

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