The world's largest and most famous racing series.
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 short, eccentric billionaire with a mop top haircut named Bernie Ecclestone; following the takeover of the Formula One Group by Liberty Media, Ecclestone was succeeded by former 21st Century Fox CEO 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 AMG Petronas lead driver Lewis Hamilton, who won his seventh title in 2020 with 347 points, ahead of his teammate, Valtteri Bottas. Mercedes also took home their seventh consecutive constructors' title in 2020 with 573 points.
- Giuseppe Farina, Italian, the series' first champion, winning the debut season in 1950 with Alfa Romeo.
- Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentinian 5-time champion (1951, 1954-57) with four different teams - Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Maserati.
- Alberto Ascari, Italian, Ferrari's first title winner. Son of the late Antonio Ascari, a Grand Prix champion from the '30s, he curb-stomped his way to win the 1952 and 1953 championships - winning even the former title with 100% of possible points earned, and in doing so became the first person to successfully defend the title. First and last Italian to win the title. Died at a test accident at Monza on May 26, 1955 (having narrowly survived ending up in Monte Carlo Harbour during the Monaco GP 4 days earlier).
- Sir Stirling Moss, English, versatile and talented but never won the championship, being runner-up four times in a row (1955-58). He was perhaps one of the most honorable sportsmen in motorsports, ceding the 1958 title to Mike Hawthorn after discussing and taking the blame for an incident in the final championship race of that year. Despite his lack of championships, he was practically synonymous with motorsport in Great Britain for decades.
- Jack Brabham, Australian, only driver to win the title in a car of his own construction (1966); also won it twice prior in 1959 and 1960.
- Jim Clark, Scottish, renowned for his smooth style, won two titles in 1963 and 1965, the latter having skipped the Monaco Grand Prix to enter (and win) that year's Indianapolis 500. Was killed in a Formula 2 race accident at Hockenheim in 1968. He is considered by many to be the greatest driver of the "retro" era, and was described by most contemporaries as undoubtedly the greatest racer to ever live.
- Graham Hill, charismatic Londoner who won two titles (1962 and 1968) the latter for Lotus after Jim Clark's death, as well as the 1966 Indianapolis 500.note He also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972, making him the first and, so far, only racer to achieve the Triple Crown of Motorsport. Died in a plane crash 29th November 1975.
- Damon Hill, his son, who won the title in 1996 driving for Williams. He started his career by racing on motorbikes, and got into Formula 1 at a quite old age (32) for Williams, mostly due to his willingness to play second fiddle on bigger names (like Prost and Senna) together with his stellar track record on setup/testing. However, after Ayrton Senna tragically passed away in 1994, he was thrust into the spotlight and did very well considering the circumstances, only losing the title by one point on a very controversial move by Michael Schumacher on the last race. A mistake-filled 1995 followed, but in 1996 Williams was utterly dominant, and Hill won the title over his teammate, Jacques Villeneuve. He got his last win with Jordan at the infamous 1998 Belgian GP.
- John Surtees, English, 1964 title winner for Ferrari, only driver/rider to have won major titles on both two and four wheels - he also won the 500cc world motorcycle championship (modern-day MotoGP), in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960. Passed away on March 10, 2017.
- 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 fastest drivers on the field, but a long string of mechanical issues prevented him from becoming a contender for the title.
- Jochen Rindt, German-born driver who represented Austria in his career, the only driver in F1 history to be a posthumous champion. He died aged 28 during practice for the 1970 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He ended up winning the title with 45 points despite there still being 4 races remaining at the time of his death (including Italy). He had dominated the season up to that point, having won 5 races out of 9 started.note
- Jackie Stewart, Scotish, three-time titlist (1969, 1971, 1973) who campaigned for better safety standards. He later became a race commentator who was instantly recognizable for his heavy Scottish accent. Also ran his own team in from 1997-1999, which was bought out by manufacturer Jaguar prior to the 2000 season. That team is now Red Bull Racing.
- Mario Andretti, Italian-American, won the title in 1978. Also won the Daytona 500 in 1967 and Indianapolis 500 in 1969. Various other wins made him one of the most successful drivers in motorsports history, and he is one of only two Americans to have won the title, the other being Phil Hill in 1961.
- Emerson Fittipaldi, Brazilian, won two titles, for Lotus in 1972 and McLaren in 1974. Also won 2 Indy Car championships and 2 Indianapolis 500s in 1989 and 1993, where he infamously drank orange juice instead of milk during the post-race to advertise his orange groves - an act that made him a major source of controversy.
- Niki Lauda, Austrian, won the 1975 title for Ferrari before being scarred in a fiery crash at the Nürburgring. Returned to win again (in 1977 and 1984) and establish his own airline company, Lauda Air. At the time of his death on May 20, 2019, he was the non-executive chairman of Mercedes's F1 team. Sometimes known by his nickname, "The Rat", for his prominent buck teeth.
- James Hunt, English, Lauda's Friendly Rival, he raced for McLaren and won the 1976 title at the final race of the season. He was also known for his flamboyant, playboy lifestyle off the track, and after retiring from motorsports in 1979, he took a career as a F1 pundit for BBC alongside Murray Walker until he died of a heart attack in 1993.
- Ronnie Peterson, late Swedish driver known for an exciting sideways driving style. Killed at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix after a faulty start, which, unfortunately, was the race where aforementioned teammate Mario Andretti won his title.
- Gilles Villeneuve, Canadian Ferrari driver. Despite his relative lack of wins (and zero championships), he is immensely beloved by everyone but mostly the Tifosi for his daredevil driving style even by the sport's standards. Four-time champion Alain Prost famously said that "Gilles is the last great driverthe rest of us are a bunch of good professionals." He died in a qualifying crash at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. The circuit in Montreal where the Canadian GP is held was renamed in his honor just weeks after his death.
- His son Jacques Villeneuve, less beloved but still highly successful, having won in 1997. Also won the IndyCar championship and the Indianapolis 500 in 1995, drove the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007 (DNFing and being classified a lowly 10th in class), and participated in the NASCAR Nationwide Series from 2008-2011. Oh, and he released a music album.
- Nelson Piquet, Brazilian, 3-time champion (1981, 1983, 1987), known for being outspoken and playing frequent pranks.
- Nelson Piquet Jr., son of the above. His stint in Formula One was... controversial, to say the least. (See Crashgate.) However, he has largely redeemed himself by winning the debut 2014-15 season of Formula E, as well as making several starts in NASCAR in all three national series from 2010-2016, finishing well in most of them.
- Alain Prost, French, fourth (only behind Vettel, Hamilton and Schumacher) in total wins, and fourth also in title count, with four wins (1985, 1986, 1989, and 1993). He became known for his clinical but highly effective style of racing, and his careful planning of race weekends earned him the nickname of "The Professor". Currently works as a special advisor for Renault's F1 division and team principal of Renault e.dams in Formula E.
- Ayrton Senna, Brazilian, known for his intensity and ruthlessness, feuded with Alain Prost in the late 1980s. A polarizing figure (accused by many for bringing "kart culture" involving crashes and close combat with other drivers into F1 and also for being a particularly vindictive individual - if his crash with Prost in the 1990 season closer in Japan was of any indication), 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 on May 1, 1994 at that year's San Marino Grand Prix, often considered the darkest weekend in the history of F1 due to Rubens Barrichello's practice injury and Roland Ratzenberger's qualifying crash, spurring a raft of new safety rules. On a tragic note, on the morning of his last day he did several meetings with other drivers, talking about implementing those very rules...
- Bruce McLaren, New Zealander, one of the youngest to win a Grand Prix at the age of 21 and, if McLaren Tooned is anything to go by, also a Determinator with four wins and 27 podiums. As a Constructor, he also solved an airflow problem which then became the downforce "nostrils" like those on the company's 2013 Hypercar, the P1. He had the dream and idea to build the ultimate road going Cool Car but had died in a tragic testing accident at Goodwood in 1970. 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 Williams, with which he was champion in 1992. Crossed over to CART IndyCar for its 1993 season and won the championship (and nearly the Indy 500 as well) which lead Mansell to become the only driver so far to hold both of open-wheel racing's top series titles simultaneously. His ferocious driving style made him very popular among fans, to the point that Ferrari fans dubbed him "the Lion of England" in his brief stint for the Italian team.
- Mika Häkkinen, Finnish, 1998 and 1999 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 sidelined for most of the season). He was a late bloomer, winning his first race 7 years into his career (Jerez 1997), but then winning the title two years in a row on an increasingly competitive McLaren Mercedes. After another close battle with Schumacher in 2000 and a problem-filled 2001, he announced his sabbatical for the 2002 season, which later turned into a full-blown retirement.
- Michael Schumacher, German, has held most of the sport's records including most wins (91, a record which was beaten by Lewis Hamilton at Portugal 2020), pole positions (68, three more than Senna, although this was broken by Lewis Hamilton at Canada 2017) and titles (7 - 1994, 1995 and 2000-2004, breaking Fangio's five-title record after getting his sixth in '03; equaled by Hamilton in 2020), making him the world's wealthiest athlete at the time with an estimated net worth of 800M USD. Notorious for several incidents, the major ones being on the 1994 (where he very aggressively defended his position against Damon Hill, after Schumi had hit the wall, causing Hill to crash into him and for both of them to retire, giving him his first title) and 1997 (when he turned deliberately into title-rival Jacques Villeneuve when the latter tried to overtake him, but failed to get him out of the race - later he was excluded from that years Driver's Championship as punishment) season-ending races. 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 newly rebranded Mercedes MGP in 2010 after recovering from a neck injury that kept him out the year before. Then, he was an upper midfielder at best, but for someone off the track for 4 years practically driving for the first time again, its a solid performance, albeit slightly disappointing to most fans due to his legend... finally retired for good after 2012 (the same year he achieved his final podium, becoming the oldest driver to do so at the age of 43). In 2014 he was critically injured in a skiing accident leaving him with life-altering injuries rendering any plans to compete in other motorsports moot. His condition is kept extremely private, and thus is practically unknown, much to the dismay of millions of fans worldwide.
- Is widely considered to be the most influential driver in modern history, for the simple fact that every driver on the grid today is modeled after him: his dedication, fitness regime (brought cardio and 365-days-a-year training into a sport were most drivers thought jogging was adequate enough), sheer commitment (drove an untold number of laps on Ferrari's Fiorano track while testing new components) and team spirit (famously remembered details about his mechanics' personal lives, bought them freshly-baked Pizza on nights where he'd work with them on the racecars, and was always mentioning his team as a vital part of his success) have changed the profession of a modern-day Formula 1 driver almost completely.
- Ralf Schumacher, German, and the younger brother of the abovementioned Michael. First drove for the Jordan team in the 1997 season, then transferred to Williams in 1999 (then running Supertec engines.) Earned his maiden win in the 2001 San Marino GP (with the team now running BMW power plants), then won the Canadian GP that same year with his brother Michael in second place (giving them the sole distinction of being the first (and so far only) siblings to get a one-two finish in a Formula 1 race, apart from arguably the siblings with most podium finishes together.) After a tumultuous 2006-2007 season with Toyota, he retired from F1 in favor of running in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) in 2008. Retired from active motor sport since 2013, and currently mentoring young drivers under the Mücke Motorsport Team.
- Juan Pablo Montoya, Colombian, 1999 and 2000 CART titlist (after the infamous split of 1996, CART became seperate from the then-new IRL) and Michael Schumacher's main rival after Hakkinen retired. Despite only 7 wins in his 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 (2007-2014 in the Cup Series where he got 2 wins, both on road courses) before going back to Indy Car. He now races in the IMSA WeatherTech sports car championship in the four endurance rounds with Penske.
- Jos Verstappen, Dutch, had 2 podium finishes until he slipped off the radar after being Michael Schumacher's teammate at Benetton in 1994. He later on won races in the A1 Grand Prix and the LMP2 class at the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans. He has also famously survived a massive pit fire in the 1994 German Grand Prix, coming out with mild burns under his eyes.
- Max Verstappen, his son, who is currently enjoying a far more successful career in F1 than his father. Despite being born and spending most of his childhood in Belgium, he races with a Dutch license as he lived with other Dutch people while growing up around the border between the two countries. He is the current holder of various 'youngest driver' records, such as fastest race lap, points scorer, podium finisher, and race winner. He's also known for his cutthroat driving style, 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. Retired from F1 after a fourth and final middling year with McLaren in 2018. He also participated in the 2017 Indianapolis 500, to much fanfare of the motorsport world... Only to be beaten by former F1 driver Takuma Sato after engine failures of teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay and Chip Ganassi driver Charlie Kimball, and one of his own. All three were Hondas, although Sato's was as well. He is now starting to show interest in branching out to different motorsports, mostly endurance racing. He participated in the 2018 24 Hours of Daytona in IMSA and is now one of Toyota's LMP1 drivers in the World Endurance Championship, winning the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans with them on his first attempt, and again in 2019 after which he left the WEC. He is currently slated to return to F1, signing with Renault (now renamed into the company's performance wing Alpine) to race for them again in the 2021 season.
- Kimi Räikkönen, Finnish, 2007 World Champion, and currently holds the record for most race starts* , most number of laps raced* , and greatest race distance travelled* . A great character and a fan favorite, well-known off track for his... smooth approach to press conferences, to his engineers and especially to alcohol. Also known as "The Ice Man" thanks to his nationality and (lack of) expressiveness. Left F1 after 2009 to participate in the World Rally Championship, and made a start in the NASCAR Truck Series as well as the Nationwide Series, finishing 15th and 27th in each. Returned to the sport in 2012 with a briefly-returning Lotus-Renault, and re-signed with Ferrari for 2014, with which he continued to drive until 2018, on what was however a clear #2 role to eventual teammate Sebastian Vettel. Parted ways with the team for the 2019 season to race for the returning Alfa Romeo (which is actually the rebranded Sauber F1 team, the same team he made his F1 debut). Currently enjoys popularity in recent years for being a Fountain of Memes among fans and detractors alike.
- An interesting tidbit: As of his 2018 United States GP win, he is so far the only driver who can cleanly claim to have won a Formula 1 race in three distinct engine eras, having earned at least one victory each in the 3-Liter V-10, 2.4-Liter V-8 and, 1.6-Liter V-6 Turbo-Hybrid eras. (Some would claim that the aforementioned Michael Schumacher has done it as well, but the cars he used in his first few career wins had 3.5-Liter V-8 engines, similar to his last few wins with Ferrari in the 2.4-Liter V-8-Engined 2006 Season.)
- Lewis Hamilton: The English champion of the 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons, and the joint record holder with Schumacher of the most driver's championships of all time, currently driving for Mercedes. The second youngest man to win the title; in only his second year in the sport with McLaren (after finishing one point behind winner Kimi Räikkönen the season prior, his debut). 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 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the only double points race in F1 history. The third title came with three races remaining, and the fourth and fifth with two after losing to Rosberg (who retired of his own accord afterwards) in 2016. By all accounts (and if Mercedes continues to give him an excellent car), by the end of his career he will have beaten practically every single record Schumacher had, with the exception of most fastest laps in a race.
- Jenson Button: English, 2009 World Champion, was being touted for years as the next big British driver,and finally came into prominence after his team (Honda) bounced back as the Brawn GP Team when team manager Ross Brawn bought it from the manufacturer after they pulled out of the sport (nearly preventing Button from racing) and retrofitted it with a Mercedes engine, and caught everyone by surprise by blazing the competition. Afterwards, spent the remaining 7 years of his career with McLaren before retiring after 2016. He now races in Super GT, having won the GT500 in 2018 and now attempting to defend it.
- Rubens Barrichello: Brazilian, holds the record for most races contested (326 races with 322 starts) with a career that spanned 19 seasons (1993-2011), longer than any other driver. Notoriously known as Schumacher's former teammate, who was consistently making him play second fiddle, emphasized in the 2002 Austrian and United States Grands Prix. Also drove in the 2012 IndyCar season, but decided against returning in 2013 after a disappointing result there. He recently raced stock cars in his native Brazil. Oh, and he also 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 several, but he still holds some such as polesitter and each of one, two, three, and four titles. Has the joint third highest number of wins in the series with Alain Prost, and also holds the record for 'shortest time between the start of a F1 career and his first penalty'. NINE SECONDS at the 2007 United States Grand Prix.
- Charles Leclerc, Monegasque and a graduate of the Ferrari Drivers' Academy program. Childhood friend of the late Jules Bianchi and Anthoine Hubert, and rival to Max Verstappen since their karting days, he is the youngest driver to get pole position and win two consecutive GPs - Belgium and Italy in 2019 to be precise. Despite his young age, he has immediately gained a strong fan following for his elegant yet ruthless racing style and humble personality.
- Keke Rosberg, Finnish, and the first of his nationality to win the title, doing so in 1982 despite only taking one win. (In case you were wondering, Ferrari had by far the best car that year and its drivers were comfortably leading the standings, but then on separate accidents one of them (the aforementioned Gilles Villeneuve) died at Zolder, Belgium and the other (Didier Pironi) nearly had his legs amputated at the German GP, hence, Rosberg won by virtue of being the last man standing.)
- Nico Rosberg, his son. German, due to his mother being German and the fact he was born there. He made his debut with Williams in 2006 and raced for them until he 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 rival had already clinched the title. In 2016, he finally won the championship, beating Hamilton in points with 9 wins compared to Hamilton's 10, and retired shortly after the finale in Abu Dhabi to the surprise of everyone.
- James Hunt vs. Niki Lauda: A rivalry that has had much increased exposure the past few years after the release of Rush (2013), it was mostly focused on the 1976 season, where Lauda's Ferrari had a small advantage over Hunt's McLaren. However, the Austrian's horrible accident at Nürburgring thrust Hunt into the forefront, and ultimately, the Brit won the title by a single point in torrential conditions at the last race in Fuji, only after Lauda parked his car at the pits on the second lap, famously stating that he wouldn't risk his life again. Nonetheless, the pair were quite good friends off track, with their rivalry being Played for Drama on the movie.
- Alain Prost vs. Ayrton Senna: By far the biggest and most notorious one, Prost and Senna dominated the mid-to-late 80's and the early 90's. Initially their relationship was pleasant enough as teammates on the dominant McLaren, but after the Brazilian almost drove his rival into a wall in the '88 Portuguese GP, it soured quickly. Mostly notorious for two incidents on consecutive years on the track of Suzuka: in 1989, while leading the championship, Prost simply shut the door on an overtake attempt by Senna, initially retiring them both - but the Brazilian drove off the escape road with the help of some marshals and won the race, only to be disqualified later for using said road. Senna thought of this as a blatantly political act (the then-president of FISA, Jean-Marie Balestre, was French and close friends with Prost), and got his revenge 12 months later. On reverse circumstances, Prost (now with Ferrari) got the better start despite Senna being on pole, but since he hadn't forgotten the past year's shenanigans (although Senna claimed that it was due to the pole position marker being on the inside of the track, considered the "dirty" part, as it was outside the racing line and had less traction), the Brazilian simply drove into Prost on the first corner at speeds of 200+ mph - it was by pure luck that no one was gravely injured.
- Their rivalry cooled off after that, helped by the fact that they never fought for the championship together again,note and Ayrton ended it formally by getting Prost into the top spot on the podium at the latters last race, the 1993 Australian GP, which Senna won. They were friendly after that, with Senna even proclaiming "We miss you, Alain" while on a lap for the French TV feed, only a few hours before his passing. Alain Prost was a pallbearer at the Brazilian's funeral, and he has since been on the board of the Senna Foundation.
- Mika Häkkinen vs. Michael Schumacher: A surprisingly respectful rivalry (in stark contrast to Schumi's other adversaries), the pair dominated the late 90's note with Mika winning two titlesnote to Schumacher's one. However, after a 2001 season that was filled with reliability and driving issues, Häkkinen stepped away from the sport, leaving (according to many) the door wide open for Schumacher's dominance. Highlights include the penultimate race of 1998 in Germany which all but sealed Mika's first title, the 2000 Japanese GP which did the same for Schumacher, and of course, one of the greatest overtakes of all time at the 2000 Belgian GP. After his first retirement in 2006, Schumacher recognized Häkkinen as his strongest and fiercest rival, with the Finn accepting it graciously.
- Lewis Hamilton vs. Nico Rosberg: Short on duration but extremely bitter, the once-childhood friends were initially very happy to be at the same team - however, when in 2014 Mercedes started perhaps the biggest domination in F1 history, they were fighting for the title and their relationship quickly turned sour with several on-track incidents to boot. Hamilton won both 2014 and 2015, but in 2016 Rosberg bounced back and spurred by Hamilton's engine failure late in the season, won the title at the last race - and then, in one of the most controversial moves in recent years, promptly retired, drawing criticism by many - Hamilton included.
- Sebastian Vettel vs. Mark Webber: Teammates at Red Bull from 2009 onwards, the peak of their rivalry was at the 2010 season, where they both had great odds for the title - and contrary to the ordinary Formula 1 ethos, their team didn't favour anyone directly note with Webber leading coming up to the last race but Vettel ultimately claiming the title. Afterwards, Webber lost most of his pace and the German won three more titles in a row. Notorious for two incidents: on the 2010 Turkish GP, when the pair crashed while leading the race,note and three years later on Malaysia, when Vettel passed his teammate for the win despite being told on the radio to hold his position.
The most famous team (by far) is Italy's Scuderia Ferrari, who have participated in every season and almost every race since the sport's inception in 1950 - they did miss the very first World Championship race in 1950 and the odd race since, but have taken part in every single race weekend since the 1976 season. As such, they have won the most races (400+) and championships (16). Ferrari fell into a slump in the 1980s but slowly climbed back to the front starting in 1988, and were finally rejuvenated by the signing of Michael Schumacher in 1996 who after four barren years dominated the early-mid 2000s. Their last constructors' title came about in 2008, but after multiple seasons of playing second fiddle to Red Bull and later on Mercedes, they appeared to be genuinely fighting for both titles in 2018. Unfortunately for them, FIA confiscated their power unit after a string of strong performances in mid-2019, and found it wasn't legal... nor illegal. Nonetheless, Ferrari had to build a new one, and nowadays are a midfield outing with the odd lucky podium here and there.
Second in popularity is the British McLaren team, founded by the late New Zealander Bruce McLaren. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost dominated in the late 1980s driving for McLaren. Their last constructors' title came in 1999 - but after a string of podium finishes in almost all successive seasons (excluding the highly controversial 2007 season where they saw themselves stripped of all their constructors' championship points due to the "Spygate" scandal), they were reduced to backmarkers from 2015-2017 after switching their engine supplier to Honda. They switched again to Renault in 2018 and are now nestled in the midfield, although beating their "parent" Renault works team.
The British Williams team were frontrunners in the 90s, thanks partly to a strong design department spearheaded by Sir Patrick Head and Adrian Newey, but have slipped to the midfield in recent years and to the back in 2018.
Sportscar manufacturer Lotus is the next most successful but it started slipping down the order after technical genius and founder Colin Chapman's death. Having a driver nearly die himself (Martin Donnelly at 1990 Japanese Grand Prix Qualifying) and running low on funds, they withdrew from F1 in 1994 and didn't return until 2010 when a Malaysian backed company used the name; in 2012 they bought out Renault's team and used the Lotus name, causing the original Lotus to be rebranded as Caterham, another British car manufacturer who gave some financial backing.
Another relatively successful team is Benetton/Renault, who entered the sport as Benetton F1 in 1986 and won the odd race here and there, until they hit the jackpot in 1991 and signed a young German named Michael Schumacher under the nose of Jordan, a few days after he participated on his first race for the latter team. Schumi managed to win the 1994 Drivers Championship, but it was perhaps the most controversial 'ship in history: it was tainted not only from Ayrton Senna's untimely death and the title-deciding collision in Adelaide, but there were also widespread allegations of Benetton using illegal driver aids - indeed, Launch Control (named Option 13) was found hidden in the engine's software, and to this day the debate rages on about whether they actually used it or not. Benetton also won both titles next year in much less controversial circumstances, but in 1996 Schumacher (and the majority of the engineers) left for Ferrari, and the team faded into obscurity... until 2003, when Renault bought the team and signed a young, charismatic driver named Fernando Alonso who won back to back titles in 2005-06.
The 'Big Four' of F1 are generally considered to be Benetton/Renault, Williams, McLaren and Ferrari, as they've dominated the drivers and constructors championships since the 80s, the majority of titles going to McLaren and Ferrari; the two most successful teams in the sport. However the status quo was upset in 2009 with the major bodywork, tyre, and technicality rule changes, which resulted in the recent success of Brawn GP (in its only season, to boot), its successor Mercedes, and Red Bull.note
The name "Formula One" comes from the rules or 'formula' that the cars must follow. It specifies things like the maximum engine displacement, shape of the undercarriage, size of the fuel cell, etc., and is subject to change from year to year, with minor rule changes happening annually and major ones introduced every 6-8 years. There is also a support series called "Formula 2" which involves smaller, lower-powered, and less expensive spec cars (now built by Italian designer Dallara); 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 & rear-engined cars that were lighter, had a lower center of gravity, wider and slightly softer tyres, and as a result better handling. This revolution led to British teams taking over from the traditionally dominant Italian Maseratis and Ferraris during the 1960s. In the 70s cars grew larger aerofoils; inverted wings designed to create downward lift (downforce) to press the cars down on to the road and improve grip, stability, and corner speeds. 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 were becoming a more common engine formula, with power outputs in excess of 11-1200HP in qualifying trim, but after the huge advantage differences between turbo and "atmo" cars in addition to the dominance of McLaren-Honda in 1988, they were banned in 1989. During that decade, a combination of increased safety regulations and stronger carbon composite cars led to a massive drop in the number of fatal crashes. The death of Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix spurred further safety regulations and attempts to limit car performance. Many advanced 'driver aids', like ABS and traction control have been outlawed, reallowed, 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 made it last 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 the typical road car.
Unlike other major worldwide sports, the playing field for F1 (and for that matter, most professional motorsports) changes at every event. Many of the tracks are equally legendary names as the drivers and cars. The most notorious is 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 suffered severe and nearly fatal burns) and now has many barriers and curbs for safety all around the track, plays host to several endurance events, and is a public toll road whenever it's not. Other famous tracks still in use are Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (Italy, dubbed as the "Temple of Speed" as it is the track with the highest average speeds on the calendar), Silverstone Racing Circuit (United Kingdom, the track where the very first Formula One championship race in 1950 was held), Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium, originally an extremely fast and very dangerous 14km blast through the Ardennes Forest and several villages), Suzuka International Racing Course (Japan, famous for its figure-8 layout and usually theater to title deciders as it is placed near the end of the season), Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (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). The most fan complaint is many tracks, especially ones where the best racing is, is removed or altered for safety reasons-often sacrificing the excitement that comes with danger. Currently the expansion of F1 into new countries such as China, Bahrain, India (dropped after 2013), Malaysia (dropped after 2017) and the United Arab Emirates has led to several bespoke tracks that are frequently condemned for their poor races and lack of character, 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 is now much safer today - 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 occasional marshal deaths, such as one killed at Australia a few years ago, and another in Canada. However at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, Jules Bianchi, after going too fast under yellow flag conditions, lost control of his car and 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 enclosed.note Sadly he would never awaken. Nine months after his crash Bianchi succumbed to his injuries on July 17th, 2015. At the 2020 Bahrain GP it was credited to F1's strict safety standards - and mostly the aforementioned "Halo" bar - that Romain Grosjean was able to survive a 53G impact with the track barriers (which snapped his car in half before the whole thing burst into flames) and escape the burning wreckage with little more than superficial burns on his hands.
Races are currently shown in the United Kingdom 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 maneuvers being missed due to inconveniently timed commercial 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 United States equivalent, see Indy Car.
In other media
- Future GPX Cyber Formula is about the Cyber Formula, a futuristic racing league, similar in nature to modern day 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.)
- F is a Japanese manga series about a country boy who fulfills his dream by racing in a Formula One car. The manga was serialized in the magazine Big Comic Spirits between 1985 and 1992, and received an anime adaptation in 1988, having many fans in Europe in The '80s, especially Italy and Spain.
- Top Gear (UK) 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.
- Season 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 would be fired.
- The second Stig, who was with the show from Seasons 3-15, 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 Hamilton 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.
- Formula 1: Drive to Survive is a Netflix produced Docu Soap that follows the ten teams and twenty drivers in Formula One which started by covering the 2018 season.
- 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 Polański produced a documentary following Jackie Stewart's 1971 Monaco GP victory.
- Senna, a documentary of Ayrton Senna's life and career. 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).
- Steve McQueen was going to make a movie in 1966 called Day of The Champion, with John Sturgess directing, and Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart on board for driving sequences. After rushes of various real races were filmed the project was axed by Warner Brothers because delays meant that Grand Prix was going to release first. The racing sequences were accidentally rediscovered decades later and made into a documentary. Four years later Le Mans was made incorporating many of the same ideas in the script.
- Teenage Fanclub's 1995 album ''Grand Prix'' had a Simtek on the cover.
- Robbie Williams's video for Supreme.
- David Guetta's music video for Dangerous.
- The Chemical Brothers 'No Geography' album was released with an official link to soundtrack the new season coverage. And it also resulted in the Mind Screw video for "We've Got To Try" featuring a dog learning to drive an F1 car before piloting a space capsule - Laika style.
- There have been a large number of officially licensed games, some of them endorsed by F1 drivers (most being Japan-only games, and even the majority of them endorsed by Satoru Nakajima, who was the country's main driver during the 8- and early-16-bit era).
- FIA themselves are currently licensing the Formula One brand to Codemasters (who are a household name in auto racing games thanks to the Colin McRae and GRID series) They also released several loosely based F1 games during the days of the Commodore C64 back in the late '80s/early 90's). They now release an annual 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 (not so for F1 2019, the most recent entry, released on June 28).
- Also well-known to fans is MicroProse's Grand Prix series, which to this day has an active modding community recreating seasons of old and new, despite the last game having been released in 2002.
- 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 he was the only real-life driver featured there. Not surprisingly, beating him is one of the game's biggest challenges.
- As In Name Only as it is, Sega had previously made an "original" Monaco GP for arcades 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 Gulf 1000, 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. Project CARS 2 adds the futuristic prototype known as the Formula X, meant to be a foreshadowing of new design concepts in F1 cars for the 2020s.
- Also from Sega, 3D racing pioneer Virtua Racing had the option to drive F1 cars.
- Grand Prix Legends is a PC simulation of most of the 1967 season. It has received many mods and graphics updates since its release in 1998, including other seasons, IndyCar/USAC, fictional open-wheel cars, and even sports and Can-Am cars.
- Nigel Mansell's World Championship for the SNES and Game Boy. Licensed by the Lion himself, and containing all 16 races and the team lead drivers from his winning season (besides Mansell, only Ayrton Senna, Gerhard Berger and Michael Schumacher appear). The SNES version got a good critical reception.
- F1 Race Stars, released by Codemasters in late 2012 (featuring drivers and cars from that season, just like the year's official game, F1 2012) is esentially 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 Häkkinen, 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-wheel cars, three of them being F1s: Kimi Raikkonen & Romain Grosjean's Lotus E21 from the 2013 season, and from the 1976 season, James Hunt & Jochen Mass's McLaren M23 and Niki Lauda & Clay Regazzoni's Ferrari 312T2 (which also doubles as a Shout-Out to the 2013 film Rush, with some in-game achievements making references aswell). They would be later on joined by the Lotus E23 of the aforementioned Grosjean & Pastor Maldonado, Mario Andretti & Gunnar Nilsson's Lotus 77, Ayrton Senna & Alain Prost's McLaren MP4/4 and Prost and Nigel Mansell's Ferrari 641 in Motorsport 6, and finally, Nico Hulkenberg, Jolyon Palmer, and Carlos Sainz's Renault R.S.17 in Motorsport 7 (Palmer as the second driver was fired after 2017's Japanese Grand Prix, and Sainz came in to replace him for the following race).
- Gran Turismo introduced expies of F1 cars in the third game along with a final championship which had an identical championship format and had Monaco (under the name Cote d'Azur) as the final and most difficult track in the game. Later games would expand upon this by adding more real tracks, some of which are or were Formula One tracks. Starting from the fourth game, the franchise introduced the "Formula Gran Turismo" car which was Polyphony's take and iteration of a car from the 2004 season; likewise the game's final series/championship also had only the FGT. The fifth game kept the car and also added Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa's F2007 from the 2007 season as well as Massa's and Fernando Alonso's F10 from 2010. They served no significance in the career mode, however, and due to licensing costs were removed from the next entry. Gran Turismo 6 had also taken out the FGT championship, which made the original car serve no purpose aside from the now unavailable seasonal events. However, it introduced a short special event free DLC campaign to honor the legacy of Ayrton Senna, released on the 20th anniversary of his death. This included his (and Elio de Angelis') Lotus 97T from 1985, which he took three wins in, one of which he lapped nearly the entire field in wet conditions. Gran Turismo Sport finally removes the obsolete Formula Gran Turismo, and the F1500 (in its own group class) takes its place. Most believe the car is based on the 1986 Lotus 98T of Senna and de Angelis. A later update would add Lewis Hamilton's and Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes W08 EQ Power+ from the 2017 season.
- Mystery Science Theater F1 and CookP1's Season Reviews are dedicated to unserious comedic reviews/criticisms of old (and new in MSTF1's case) races.
- Mini Drivers is a Spanish animated series, which has been releasing short videos that recap Grand Prix highlights in a comical manner since 2009, with the channel being launched the previous year. It has many running gags, and releases a special video at the end of each year that reviews that year's season (Mini for Speed every even-numbered year, and others for every odd-numbered year).
- McLarenTooned is a 2012 animated series produced by McLaren, featuring Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, the team's drivers from that year, as well as original character Professor M voiced by comedian Alexander Armstrong. Season 2 in 2013 had Hamilton out for Sergio Perez, and was aptly named "Tooned 50", as it focused on the anthology of McLaren over the past 50 years. Another special in 2014 had Button and Kevin Magnussen alongside Stewart-Haas NASCAR Cup Series driver Tony Stewart; named "Mobil 1: The Story of Oil. It was essentially a glorified ad for Mobil 1, which sponsored both the McLaren team and Stewart's car that year.
- Formula 1: The series' official youtube channel, featuring "Best Of" clips from races, F1 news & interviews, top ten videos, drivers taking F1 trivia quizes and related content.
- The Autobot Mirage on The Transformers turns into a formula one car (based on many cars built by Ligier in the 80s).
- The Stunticon Drag Strip turns into an orange version of the Tyrrell P34 6-wheeled F1 car.
- The Movie "Ready, Race, Rescue" of PAW Patrol takes place in two competitions: Adventure Bay 500 and the Around the World Road Rally.
- The vehicles are modified Formula One cars.
- The Paw Patrol built an entire circuit.
- It has slightly modified the rules of Formula one.
- The Cheetah managed to steal vehicles while leaving the disaster on its wake. causing the PAW Patrol to rescue while Marshall races. And at the end she was exposed as a cheater this whole race. And lectured by Mayor Humdinger. but she vows for it and falls flat and chases his cousin along while the victors looking on them