Useful Notes / Formula One

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The most famous motor racing series...in the world.

A load of drivers drive very fast single-seat open wheel cars ("If it's got fenders, it's not a race car") around a circuit, having to complete a set number of laps. Points awarded on finishing positions crown the champion driver and champion constructor. Most of the commercial dealings from the mid 1970s to 2016 were controlled by a billionaire short bloke with a mop top haircut called Bernie Ecclestone; following the takeover of the Formula One Group by Liberty Media, Ecclestone was succeeded by former 21st Century Fox COO Chase Carey. The political machinations of the teams and their disputes and scandals are an almost integral part of the sport and its image.

The current champion is Mercedes lead pilot Lewis Hamilton, who won his fourth title with 363 points ahead of his main rival, Ferrari lead pilot Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes also took home their fourth consecutive constructors' title with 668 points.

    Has a rather rich history and some famous names like: 
  • Giuseppe Farina, the first Formula One champion, winning the debut season in 1950 with Alfa Romeo.
  • Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentinian 5-time champion in 1951 and 1954 through 1957 with four different teams - Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Maserati.
  • Alberto Ascari, first titliest for Ferrari, he curb-stomped his way to win the 1952 and 1953 championships - winning even the former title with a full score. Still the last Italian to win the title, and that's a long time ago.
  • Stirling Moss, versatile English driver, never won the championship, being runner-up four times in a row (1955-58).
  • Jack Brabham, Australian, only driver to win the title in a car of his own construction (in 1966); he also won in 1959 and 1960.
  • Jim Clark, Scottish driver renowned for smooth style, won two titles in 1963 and 1965 (year in which he also won an Indy 500) but died in a Formula 2 race in 1968.
  • Graham Hill, charismatic Londoner who won two titles (1962 and 1968), including one for Lotus after Jim Clark's death, as well as the 1966 Indy 500. He also won The 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972, making him the only racer to achieve the Triple Crown of Motorsports.
    • Damon Hill, his son, who won one title in 1996.
  • Chris Amon, New Zealander, considered by many to be the greatest Formula One driver to never win a championship, let alone a race. His championship stint for Ferrari in 1968 became particularly infamous for his horrible luck: he was easily among the quickest drivers on the field, but a long string of mechanical issues prevented him from becoming a contender for the title.
  • Jackie Stewart, three time titlist (1969, 1971, 1973) who campaigned for better safety standards. He later became a race commentator who was instantly recognizable for his Scottish accent. Also had his own team in the late 1990s.
  • Mario Andretti, Italian-American won the title in 1978. Also won the Daytona 500 in 1967 and Indy 500 in 1969.
  • Emerson Fittipaldi, Brazilian won two titles, for Lotus in 1972 and McLaren in 1973. Also won Indy 500 in 1989, where he famously drinked orange juice instead of milk during the celebration to advertise his orange groves - a move that got him not little heat.
  • Niki Lauda, Austrian, won 1975 title for Ferrari before being scarred in a fiery crash at the Nurburgring. Returned to win again (in 1977 and 1984) and establish Lauda Air. He is currently the non-executive chairman of Mercedes's F1 division. Sometimes known by his nickname, "The Rat", for his prominent buck teeth.
  • James Hunt, Lauda's Friendly Rival, he raced for McLaren and won the 1976 title on the very final race of the season. He was also known for his flamboyant, playboy lifestyle off the track. Died of a heart attack in 1993.
  • Ronnie Peterson, late Swedish driver known for an exciting sideways driving style.
  • Gilles Villeneuve, Canadian Ferrari driver beloved by the Tifosi for his daredevil driving style. Died in a racing crash at Zolder in 1982.
    • His son Jacques Villeneuve, less beloved but still highly successful, having won in 1997. Also won Indy 500 in 1995 and drove the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007. Oh, and he released a music album. Yeah.
  • Nelson Piquet, Brazilian 3-time champion (1981, 1983, 1987), known for playing practical jokes.
    • Nelson Piquet Jr., son of the above. His stint in Formula One was... Controversial, to say the least (just search up Crashgate). However, he has largely redeemed himself by winning the debut 2014-15 season of Formula E.
  • Alain Prost, Frenchman, second to Schumacher in the wins total, and third in title count, with four wins (1985, 1986, 1989 and 1993).
  • Ayrton Senna, famously intense and ruthless Brazilian, feuded with Alain Prost in the 1980s. A polarizing figure, adored in Brazil, he may have been the fastest and most daring driver in F1 history. Won three titles, in 1988, 1990 and 1991, all of which were clinched at the Japanese Grand Prix. Killed in a crash in 1994, spurring a raft of new safety rules.
  • Bruce McLaren, one of the youngest to win a Grand Prix and, if McLaren Tooned is anything to go by, also a Determinator. He had the dream and idea to build an ultimate road-going Cool Car but had died in a tragic testing accident. Averting Author Existence Failure, Gordon Murray and his team eventually formed McLaren Automotive to build said car, its name and style evocative of the sport, the McLaren F1.
  • Nigel Mansell, English driver most associated with the Williams team, with which he was champion in 1992. Crossed over to CART for its 1993 season and won the championship (and almost the Indy 500) which lead Mansell to become the only driver to hold both championships at the same time.
  • Mika Häkkinen, two time (1998, 1999) Finnish world champion. Considered to be Michael Schumacher's only real rival (even though the 1999 win came only through lack of competition, considering this rivalry, since Schumacher sustained an injury which prevented him from driving for most of the season).
  • Michael Schumacher, German, holds most of the sport's records including most wins (91 against 51 from Prost, the previous record holder), pole positions (68, three more than Senna) and titles (seven, in 1994, 1995 and 2000 through 2004, breaking Fangio's five-title record), making him the world's wealthiest athlete. Retired in 2006. Had planned a comeback to cover for the injured Felipe Massa, but was forced to call it off due to his own injuries. Then came back for Mercedes in 2010 after recovering from a neck injury that kept him out the year before. Drove around in the middle of the field. For someone off the track for 4 years practically driving the first time again (not counting training of course) it is a solid performance, though people have been expecting top-3 positions due to his legend... finally retired for good in 2012 (the same year he got his last podium, becoming the oldest pilot finishing a race in the top 3). In 2014 he was critically injured in a skiing accident leaving him with life altering injuries rendering any further comebacks moot.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya, Colombian, 1999 Champ Car titliest and Michael Schumacher's main rival after Hakkinen retired. Despite only 7 wins in his entire F1 career, he was the only other driver in the field to consistently give Schumi a hard time at the turn of the millennium. Retired from F1 in 2006 after a very shaky season with McLaren and had a brief stint in NASCAR before going back to Indycar.
  • Jos Verstappen, Dutch, had 2 podium finishes until he slipped off the radar. He later on won races in the A1 Grand Prix and was crowned LMP2 class winner at the 2008 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He has also famously survived a massive pit fire in the 1994 German Grand Prix, only sustaining a few minor burns.
    • Max Verstappen, his son, who is currently enjoying a far more successful Formula One career than his father. He is current holder of various 'youngest driver' records, such as youngest driver to set the fastest lap in a race, youngest driver to score points, youngest driver to have a podium finish, and youngest driver to win a race. He's also known for his aggressive driving, for better or for worse.
  • Fernando Alonso, Spaniard, second youngest two time world champion. Ended Schumacher's dominance in 2005 and 2006 driving for Renault. Currently struggling with McLaren after finishing second with Ferrari in 2012 and 2013, only losing the title at the very final race in the former occasion. He's also participated in the 2017 Indy 500, to much fanfare of the motorsport world... Only to be beaten by former F1 driver Takuma Sato.
  • Kimi Räikkönen, Finnish, 2007 world champion. A great character, known off track due to his... smooth approach to press conferences, to his engineers and to alcohol. Also known as "The Iceman" thanks to his nationality and (lack of) expressiveness.
  • Lewis Hamilton: The English champion of the 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2017 seasons, currently in Mercedes. The second youngest man to win the title and did so in only his second year of racing with McLaren (after finishing one point behind winner Kimi Räikkönen the season before, his debut season). Even then, he won by a single point from Ferrari's Felipe Massa, on the last corner of the last lap of the last race. Hamilton won his second title in more convincing fashion with Mercedes to see off the challenge of teammate and childhood friend Nico Rosberg with a win Abu Dhabi, the only double points race in F1 history. Then the third title came with three races yet to be contested!
  • Jenson Button: The 2009 English champion, who finally came into prominence after his team (Honda) bounced back as the Brawn GP Team when team manager Ross Brawn bought it from the carmaker after they pulled out of the sport (nearly preventing Button from racing) and retrofitted it with a Mercedes-Benz engine, and caught everyone by surprise by blazing the competition.
  • Rubens Barrichello: Brazilian driver who holds the record for most races contested (326 races with 322 starts) with a career that spanned nineteen seasons, longer than any other driver. Notoriously known as Schumacher's former teammate, who was forced to concede a race win to him. Also drove in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, but decided against returning to the brickyard in 2013 after a disappointing result there. At least he beat The Stig.
  • Sebastian Vettel, German, World Champion from 2010 to 2013, all four times driving for Red Bull. Currently driving for Ferrari, he held most of the sport's 'youngest' records until Max Verstappen snagged some of them, but he still holds records such as youngest driver to win pole position, and win one, two, three and four world championships. The driver with the fourth-highest number of wins in the series, he also holds the record for 'shortest time between the start of a F1 career and his first penalty'. NINE SECONDS.
  • Keke Rosberg, the first Finn to win an F1 title, doing it in 1982 despite only winning a single race.
    • Nico Rosberg is Keke's son. He claims German nationality due to his mother being German and the fact he was born there. He has raced in F1 since 2006 and moved to Mercedes in 2010. In 2014, he challenged for and lost the championship to childhood friend Hamilton in a close battle with a record ten 2nd places in the season. In 2015, was runner-up to Hamilton again, winning all three final races once his friend had already got the title. In 2016, he finally won the championship, beating Hamilton in points despite winning only 9 races compared to Hamilton's 10 wins, and retired shortly after the final race.

The most famous team is Ferrari, who have won the most races and championships. Ferrari fell into a slump in the 1980s but were rejuvenated by the signing of Michael Schumacher in 1996 and dominated the 'noughties. The nearest challenger is the British McLaren team, founded by the late New Zealander Bruce McLaren. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost dominated in the 1980s driving for McLaren. The British Williams team were strong in the 'nineties, thanks partly to a strong design department, but have slipped to the midfield in recent years. Sports car maker Lotus is the next most successful team, but the team started slipping down the order after technical genius and founder Colin Chapman's death, withdrew from F1 in 1994 and didn't return untill 2010 when a Malaysian backed company used the name. The 'Big Four' of racing are generally considered to be Benetton/Renault, Williams, McLaren and Ferrari since they have dominated the drivers and constructors championships since the 80's, the majority of titles going to McLaren and Ferrari; they are the most successful teams in the sport. However the status quo was upset in 2009 with the success of Brawn (now Mercedes) and, later in 2010 through 2013, Red Bull.note 

The name "Formula One" comes from the formula that all qualifying cars must follow. It specifies things like the maximum engine displacement, the shape of the car's undercarriage, the size of the fuel cell, etc., and is subject to change from year to year. There is also a racing circuit called "Formula Two" which involves much smaller, lower-powered, and generally less expensive cars; if Formula One were the NFL, Formula Two would be Arena Football.

Probably the greatest technical change occurred in the late 1950s when front-engined cars were replaced by superior mid-engined cars that were lighter and handled better. This revolution led to British teams taking over from the traditionally dominant Italian Maseratis and Ferraris during the 1960s. In the 1970s cars grew larger aerofoils; inverted wings designed to create downward lift (downforce) to press the cars down on to the road and improve grip. This led to Lotus pioneering 'Ground Effect' cars that were designed to create a low pressure area under the car using "Venturi tunnels", further increasing grip.note  In the 1980s turbochargers increased power outputs to 1000hp but were banned in 1989. During that decade increased safety regulations, and stronger carbon composite cars, led to a massive drop in the number of fatal crashes. The death of Ayrton Senna in a racing crash in 1994 spurred further safety regulations and attempts to limit car performance. Many advanced 'driver aids', like ABS and traction control have been outlawed, allowed again, and outlawed again, since then - technical rule changes are often a cue for fans to say They Changed It, Now It Sucks. (Compare NASCAR, which banned fuel injection in 1958 - and maintained the ban until 2012, decades after carburetors became obsolete on road cars.) In any event, the cars today have more technical affinity with the Space Shuttlenote  than what's parked in your driveway.

Unlike other major worldwide sports, the playing field for F1 changes at every event. Many of the race tracks are equally legendary names as the drivers and cars. The most notorious is probably the Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany - a 12.95 mile course with 89 total corners. It was last used in 1976(the year that Niki Lauda, who drove for Ferrari alongside Clay Regazzoni, crashed at the post-downhill "Bergwerk" and almost died) but is still there and is even open to the public to drive round if you pay. Other famous tracks still in use are Monza (Italy, dubbed as the "Temple of Speed" as it regularly is the fastest track on the calendar), Silverstone (UK, the track where the first Formula One championship race was held), Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium, originally an extremely fast and very dangerous 14km blast through the Ardennes), Suzuka (Japan, famous for its figure-of-8 layout), Barcelona (Spain, also hosted the road time trial team cycling event in the 1992 Olympic Games) and the street race in Monte-Carlo (Monaco, its race serves as a Nostalgia Level harking back to the old days of motorsport). A frequent gripe of fans is when an exciting track is dropped or altered in the name of safety. Currently the expansion of F1 into new countries such as China, Bahrain, India, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates has led to several bespoke tracks that are frequently condemned for being soulless and boring, earning the derisive nickname of Tilkedromes — Google the name "Hermann Tilke" to see the explanation and fan reactions.

F1 used to be notorious for frequent driver deaths, but it's a lot safer than it was - before 2014, no driver has died at the wheel of an F1 Car since Senna and Ratzenberger in 1994. On the other hand there were still the occaisonal marshall deaths, such as the one killed at the Melbourne Grand Prix a few years ago, and another in Canada. However at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix; Jules Bianchi suffered a critical brain injury after he collided with a recovery vehicle in very wet conditions, which left him in a coma. This led to calls to make the car's cockpits fully enclosednote . Sadly he would never awaken, nine months after his crash. Bianchi succumbed to his injuries.

Races are currently shown in the UK on both Sky and Channel Four, the latter inheriting it from The BBC in 2015, with Sky broadcasting all the races live, while C4 televises half the races live and shows highlights of the rest. The move to pay-per-view broadcasts was not received well, especially as the BBC had received lots of praise compared to ITV, who had struggled due to advertising problems and at least two key overtaking manouevres being missed due to inconveniently timed ad breaks. The Beeb also brought back "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac as the Theme Tune to its coverage - the song is long associated with F1 and car racing. C4 kept The Chain and the live qualifying and race broadcasts are ad-free.

For the approximate USA equivalent, see Indy Car.

In other media

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Future GPX Cyber Formula is about a futuristic version of Formula One. Notable for having one character named after Michael Schumacher (though granted, when the character was first introduced, Schumacher was still in Formula Three at the time.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Top Gear has had various F1 drivers as their 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car'. Unlike most of the stars, they have their own leader board due to their skill superiority. Rubens Barrichello was the first driver to beat The Stig's time, by a mere a tenth of a second. Lewis Hamilton currently holds the fastest time, superseding both by over a second
    • Consequently, the Stig has developed an irrational hatred for Rubens.
    • Both Jackie Stewart and Mika Häkkinen have been featured in segments where they teach presenter James May (aka 'Captain Slow') how to drive like a racer.
    • Series 13 had Stig reveal himself...as Michael Schumacher. It wasn't, as he was later revealed to be Ben Collins.
    • Also in Season 13, during the 'rear wheel drive' challenge, the presenters were in a race in France. One of the other competitors was former driver Olivier Panis. He called their cars shitboxes.
    • As mentioned below, the original Stig was the talented but unlucky Perry McCarthy. He outed himself in his biography, and was subsequently fired due to a clause in his contract saying that if his identity was revealed, he must be fired.
    • The second Stig, who was with the show from series 3 through series 15, was revealed to be Ben Collins. They are now on their third Stig.
    • Season 14 had the presenters attempt to make art out of cars. David Coulthard helped Jeremy out with his art, using a 2005 Red Bull car. Specifically, using paintballs fired from the exhaust pipe of the Red Bull car. Onto a canvas Clarkson was holding in front of him. It didn't go well.
      Coulthard: [as Clarkson lies in a fetal curl on the ground] I'm not giving him mouth to mouth.
    • Season 15 Episode 5 had an absolutely beautiful tribute to Ayrton Senna, to commemorate what would have been his fiftieth birthday earlier that year (2010).
    • Season 17 Episode 3 produced a new fastest driver in the F1 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car' Leader Board, Sebastian Vettel. He was defeated by Lewis Hamiton and his old Red Bull teammate Mark Webber a few series later.
    • Season 18 Episode 7 featured Kimi Räikkönen, returning from his two-year F1 sabbatical (in which he competed in the World Rally Championship), as the 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car'.
  • This Is Your Life also featured a few drivers as the subject of its show. Notably Murray Walker, Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell. Several other racing drivers acted as guests.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie featured a sketch where Hugh Laurie played an F1 driver who constantly moans about his "many problems" even though he won the race. The interviewer (Stephen Fry), after berating him "You do a job that half of mankind would kill be able to do, and you can have sex with the other half as often as you like!", "Are you ARSING WELL HAPPY you dismal moaning French twat?" finally punches him out. A real punch as well, hence Stephen's slightly guilty expression.
  • The Mary Whitehouse Experience has a sketch trying to prove that elderly drivers are the most dangerous. Part of which was Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost being held up at the British GP by 'Granddad'. The constuctors championship being won by McLaren, with Ferrari second, and "Austin 1100" third.
  • Jasper Carrott talked about fellow brummie Nigel Mansell on his show: "Potentially, he is the most exciting man on the Earth..." (beat) "...until he speaks". "He's got all those exciting endorsements on his tunic; Havoline, Texaco, Labatts...it's so incongruous isn't it?. It should be Horlicks, or Solihull Public Library." He even mentioned Nigel's Indycar switch: "Paul Newman, and Nigel Mansell! Butch Cassidy and The Sanatogen Kid!"
  • Machalcon from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger is an Engine based on a Formula 1 car.

    Film 
  • John Frankenheimer's 1966 movie Grand Prix, starring James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, and Yves Montand is pretty much the definitive Hollywood treatment of Formula One.
  • Roman Polanski produced a documentary following Jackie Stewart's 1971 Monaco GP victory.
  • Senna, a documentary on Ayrton Senna has been produced. It premiered in Japan during the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix weekend, and was a competitor in the 27th Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Audience Award for Documentary Film.
  • In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark enters a Historic F1 race at Monaco.
  • A biopic called Rush, directed by Ron Howard, which focuses on the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 season (won by Hunt).

     Music 

     Video Games 
  • There have been a large number of officially licensed games, some of them endorsed by F1 drivers (most of these being Japan-only games, and even most of these endorsed by Satoru Nakajima).
    • FIA themselves are currently licensing the Formula One brand to Codemasters (who are a household name in auto racing games since the Colin MacRae series), so they'll make an yearly game based on the current season (though said game always comes towards the end of the season, which is explained as the time the teams and drivers' characteristics are better sorted out).
  • The highly successful Super Monaco GP series on Genesis, which weren't FIA officially licensed games and thus made use of Expies for both cars and drivers; the second game however had Ayrton Senna's supervision and thus was the only real-name driver displayed there.
    • As In-Name-Only as it is, Sega had previously made an "original" Monaco GP in the late 1970s.
  • Project CARS has many forms of open-wheel Formula One cars in the form of Lawyer-Friendly Cameos. Formula Rookie, Formula 1000 Golf, and Formula C/B/A. Side events in the career that you can be invited to feature vintage Lotus built cars from the 49 Cosworth at A, the 72D Cosworth and 78 Cosworth at B or the 98T Renault at C
  • Also from Sega, 3D racing pioneer Virtua Racing had the option to drive F1 cars.
  • Grand Prix Legends was a PC simulation of the 1967 season.
  • Now there's also F1 Race Stars, which is Formula One meets Mario Kart.
    • Before that, there was also SD F-1 Grand Prix, released only in Japan for the Super Famicom in 1995. Mostly inspired by the 1995 season, it takes heavy inspiration from Super Mario Kart and features a cast of chibi animal characters inspired by that year's line-up (e.g. a dog as Mika Hakkinen, a wolf as Michael Schumacher, a horse as Jean Alesi, and a hawk as Damon Hill). It also features four hidden drivers based respectively on Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Satoru Nakajima, and - as the game's Final Boss - Ayrton Senna.
  • F1 ROC: Race of Champions (also known as Exhaust Heat overseas) on the SNES included 16 tracks from the 1992 season. Two years later, a sequel came out which added new original tracks for two smaller leagues (Group C and Formula 3000) before progressing to the 1994 Formula One season.
  • Forza Motorsport 5 includes, for the first time in the series, open-wheeled cars, three of them being F1s: Kimi Räikkönen's Lotus from the 2013 season, and from the 1976 season, James Hunt's McLaren M23 and Niki Lauda's Ferrari 312T2 (which also doubles as a Shout-Out to the 2013 film Rush). They would be later on joined by the Lotus E25, Mario Andretti's Lotus 77, Ayrton Senna's McLaren MP4/4 and Alain Prost's Ferrari 641 in Motorsport 6, and finally, Nico Hulkenberg's Renault R.S.17 in Motorsport 7.
  • Gran Turismo introduced references to Formula One in the third game, which featured Formula One-esque cars, a final event that is the game's own take on the real event, and had the Monaco track (under the name Cote d'Azur) as the last and hardest track in the game. Later games would expand upon this by adding more real-life tracks, some of which are or were Formula One tracks.

     Web Video 

     Western Animation 

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