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 Medianote , Ecclestone was succeeded by former 21st Century Fox CEO Chase Carey; the current CEO is former Ferrari team principal and Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali. 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 Red Bull Racing lead driver Max Verstappen, who secured this third consecutive title in 2023 with only six races left in the 22-race calendar (he technically secured enough points at the Qatar Sprint Race to clinch the title).
- 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. He was known in his lifetime as "El Chueco" (the bow-legged one), and with 24 wins out of 52 race starts, he is the driver with the highest winning percentage in Formula One history with a frankly unrepeatable 46.15%.
- 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 the former with 100% of possible points earned, and in doing so becoming the first driver to successfully defend their title. First and last Italian to win the Drivers' Championship. 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, and is widely considered as the best driver to never win a title.
- 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 - his relatively low numbers are attributed mostly to truly horrendous reliability - 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 in either of the accepted versions.note 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 next to bigger names (like Prost and Senna) together with his stellar track record on car setup and 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 due to 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 rookie teammate Jacques Villeneuve, despite the fact that he knew Williams had already decided to replace him come 1997. He got his last win driving for 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 single 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.
- Mario Andretti summed up his friend's misfortune with a single quote: "If Chris became an undertaker, people would stop dying"
- 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
- Sir Jackie Stewart, Scottish, 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 and is known as Red Bull Racing since a takeover from the eponymous energy drink company in 2005.
- 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. Famously got pole position at his very first F1 race in Watkins Glen. He is practically synonymous with motorsport in the US.
- Emerson Fittipaldi, Brazilian, won two titles, for Lotus in 1972 and McLaren in 1974. Also won 2 IndyCar 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.
- The Fittipaldi family is the one to have the most members to compete in Formula One - apart from Emerson, there's Wilson (Emerson's brother, who competed between 1972 and 1975), Christian (Wilson's son, who competed between 1992 and 1994, and with him they became the first father-son pair to score points in Formula One), and Pietro (Emerson's grandson, who replaced Romain Grosjean in the last two races in the 2020 season, and first grandson of a Formula One driver to compete in the category), as well as Emerson's son-in-law, Max Papis (who competed in 1995).
- 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 low number 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 driver—the 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 as he won the Formula One title in 1997. Also won the IndyCar championship and the Indianapolis 500 in 1995. After his retirement from Formula One in 2006, he became a controversial pundit as he likes to say what he has in mind, whether it's good or bad. Jacques also became a journeyman and competed in all sorts of competitions, from endurance racing to touring cars to stock cars to electric racing to rallycross. Oddly, Jacques never really found the urge or time to compete a full season in those championships as the only time he completed a full racing season after his last season in Formula One was in 2019, when he competed full-time in NASCAR's Whelen Euro Series (yes, NASCAR does have an European-based championship). His last win as a driver came in 2021 on the aforementioned Euro Series (at the age of fifty years old) and his last race to date happened in 2022 where he took part in his first Daytona 500. He finished second in the 2008 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, making him the closest driver to become just the second driver to achieve the Triple Crown (using the alternative Formula One championship version).note 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 also in title count with four (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 "The Professor". However, he is mostly known as the main rival to...
- Ayrton Senna, Brazilian, known both for his incredible speed and gis intensity, feuded with Alain Prost in the 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 and Japan, he also may have been the fastest and most daring driver in F1 history. Is thought by most to be the best qualifier ever, to the point where his rival Prost wouldn't even bother to setup his car for optimal one-lap performance on Saturdays, since he knew that there was no way Senna's time could be bettered. His Determinator status is best highlighted in his 1991 Brazilian GP victory, where his gearbox gradually failed throughout the latter half of the race until he was stuck driving on sixth gear for the last few laps; rather than abandoning and letting Riccardo Patrese's Williams take it home, Senna refused to give up his dream of winning in his home country and pushed on under extremely strenuous conditions. 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 fatal qualifying crash, spurring a raft of new safety rules. On a tragic note, just hours before his death he did several meetings with other drivers, he was talking about implementing those very rules...
- In fact, Senna's fatal incident was a watershed moment for F1 as a whole, both for its visibility - millions of viewers were constantly fed images of the unconscious driver - and for what was the very public death of the sport's biggest star. The shock from his death spurred a knee-jerk reaction from the FIA with some very questionable rules, but from now on safety was the name of the game, with several changes throughout the next decades making the sport safer for all.
- 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. Gordon Murray and his team eventually formed McLaren Automotive to build said car, its name and style evocative of the sport, the McLaren F1.
- 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 and the other (Didier Pironi) nearly had his legs amputated at the German GP, hence, Rosberg won (and) 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.
- 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 il leone ("the lion") in his brief stint for the Italian team. And speaking of Ferrari, Mansell held the distinction of being the last Ferrari driver to be personally selected for the team by Enzo Ferrari himself before his death, an honour which Mansell stated was "one of the greatest in my entire career".
- 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 won 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 crashed 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 injuries. He 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 2013 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 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 before 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. His legacy is carried on by his son Mick, who debuted in the 2021 season for the Haas team.
- 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 IndyCar. 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, winning back to back titles in 2021, 2022 and 2023. 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, plus most points and wins in a single season. He was also known for his cutthroat driving style, for better or for worse, though he has mellowed out significantly ever since.
- Fernando Alonso, Spaniard, second youngest two-time world champion, and currently the most experienced driver in terms of number of race starts* , laps completed* , and race distance* . 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 returned to the category in 2021 for a third spell in Renault (now Alpine).
- The Spaniard is basically F1's case-study for being in the wrong place at the most inopportune time: after back-to-back titles with Renault, he moved to powerhouse McLaren-Mercedes, at the same time that an unproven rookie named Lewis Hamilton emerged - their rivalry completely derailed the team and the 2007 title went to Kimi Räikkönen. He instantly returned to Renault, who were a shell of their former selves due to cost-cutting, and won just two races in two years. He then moved to Ferrari to much fanfare, and despite two near-misses in 2010 and 2012, the scarlet cars were no match for the Red Bulls. After a dissapointing 2014, Alonso returned to McLaren, now with brand-new Honda engines, but unfortunately said engines were both painfully slow and terrifyingly unreliable, causing many an outburst - and absolutely no podiums, much less wins. However, as of 2023 his luck seems to be changing, as he has found himself in an increasingly competitive Aston Martin car.
- Kimi Räikkönen, Finnish, 2007 World Champion, and (as of his retirement at the end of the 2021 season) co-holder of the record for most fastest laps gained in a single season* . 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. Popularly known within the sport as "The Iceman" 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 with a briefly-returning Lotus-Renault for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, then 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 where he made his F1 debut,) until retiring from the sport for good at the end of the 2021 season. Has enjoyed 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 Michael Schumacher of the most driver's championships of all time, currently driving for Mercedes. The only black driver to ever race in F1 and the second youngest 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. Has broken pretty much any standing record from the Schumacher days (with the exception of fastest laps), and was less than a lap away from becoming an eight-time champion at the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, if not for a controversial call from the race director.
- The newest arrival on the "Greatest of all Time" debate - which usually features him, Schumacher and Senna - Hamilton remains both adored and hated by many: his fans will point to his frankly ridiculous stats, incredible rookie season and many intra-team battles with other world champions, with the latter being something that Schumacher and sometimes Senna actively avoided by choosing second-rate teammates. On the contrary, his detractors say that he was a part of the greatest dynasty in F1 history (Mercedes won 8 consecutive Constructors' titles and had the best car (or very close to it) every year from 2014 to 2021, something no other team has ever come close to achieving), that he didn't win any titles from 2009 to 2013 when he didn't have the fastest machinery, and how he was beaten by his teammates Button and Rosberg (and tied with Alonso), while Senna was only beaten once by Prost and Schumi never lost to a teammate, at least before his first retirement.
- 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 second-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 Aston Martin (former Racing Point) after a stint with 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.
- While he was touted as Schumacher's natural successor (the two had a great relationship) and the best bet to break some of his records after dominating the early 10's, nowadays his career is mostly known for his relative lack of success with Ferrari, especially on the 2017 and 2018 seasons. It must be noted that his team did many mistakes (by not giving him on-track support from his teammate and by introducing some failed upgrades in late-2018), but Vettel became somewhat of a meme by crashing and/or spinning out of seemingly every other race, ending his title chances. Eventually, he was pretty much ousted from Maranello due to the emergence of...
- 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. Beat Sebastian Vettel on both seasons where they were teammates, imposing himself as the new leader of the Scuderia, a mantle that has buried many careers in the past. Despite his young age, he has immediately gained a strong fan following for his elegant yet ruthless racing style and humble personality.
- Daniel Ricciardo, Australiannote , and a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, which success in the lower categories prompted his rise to the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, before joining the main Red Bull team after Mark Webber's retirement. After four years in Red Bull, he raced for two years at Renault, before switching over to McLaren in 2021. Known as the Honey Badger for his racing style as well as his smile, and of course for introducing the celebratory "Shoey" beginning in 2016 after grabbing a podium finish at the German Grand Prix, and would repeat whenever he was on the podium. After Hamilton, he is probably the most famous racing driver in the States, in no small part due to his exposure in Drive to Survive.
- 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, deteriorating further due to an incident in the '89 San Marino GP, in which they had an agreement of not fighting for positions until past the first turn which supposedly Senna broke.note 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 170+ 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 latter's 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.
- Lewis Hamilton vs. Max Verstappen: the latest rivalry has been quite short but extremely volatile, with both Verstappen and Hamilton getting penalized throughout the 2021 season for crashing into the other (albeit not on purpose...mostly). Verstappen later took advantage of Hamilton's mid-season slump to open up a large enough gap in the standings that he had realistic chances of clinching the title early; however, towards the end of the season, Hamilton recovered, winning three races back-to-back, and after his win at the latter of those, the inaugural Saudi Arabian GP (during which he and Verstappen fought repeatedly on track, with the latter even brake-testing him), they were level on points going into the final race in Abu Dhabi, for the first time since 1974. Verstappen got pole but Hamilton took the lead before the first corner, pretty much dominated the entire race, and would have won the title if not for a late crash that brought out the Safety Car and an extremely controversial call by the race director to let Hamilton (who had worn and hard tyres) and Verstappen (who had newer and softer tyres) essentially do a one-lap sprint to the chequered flag - with the latter getting ahead and winning the title.
- Has cooled off in 2022, as Verstappen remained in the title hunt while Hamilton's Mercedes regressed to a podium outfit, at best, ending any chance of a fight between the two.
- Charles Leclerc vs. Max Verstappen: this rivalry has become the main talking point of the 2022 season with Ferrari and Red Bull being the fastest teams on the grid (plus a now-severely underperforming Mercedes leaving Lewis Hamilton in their dust), but it dates all the way back to the two drivers' karting days - a detail that is often overdramatized by media outlets. The two drivers came to blows for the first time in F1 at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, with Verstappen forcing Leclerc to go wide after a collision in the battle for the race win. Leclerc replied in kind at the British Grand Prix while defending his position against Verstappen who was climbing back up the field. The rivalry thawed for a little while due to Ferrari lagging behind performance-wise in 2020 and 2021, but has returned full force in 2022: the season opener in Bahrain saw a furious battle for the lead, with Verstappen catching up on Leclerc two times in the start/finish straight only for the Monegasque driver to reply in kind through strategic DRS usage, while the end of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix saw Verstappen making a decisive move against a then-race-leading Leclerc, who was denied a possible counter due to Alex Albon and Lance Stroll crashing out on the first sector and deploying a sector yellow as a result. Although most media outlets overdramatize the rivalry as a bad blood that ran for a decade, it is much more friendly and less volatile than the Max vs. Lewis rivalry; the two drivers even raced together while streaming on Twitch during the 2020 off-season. However, despite taking three wins by the season's halfway point, a combination of reliability problems, strategic errors, and driver mistakes derailed Leclerc's championship challenge while Verstappen and Red Bull proceeded to dominate the remainder of the season.
- The 1994 cheating allegations controversy: in a bid to stop the all-conquering Williams team (which had won 31 out of 33 poles in the last two years), the FIA announced that all electronic aids would be banned from 1994 onwards. Most teams removed them…but not all: after a whole lot of suspicion, a hidden form of launch control was found in the Benetton car, masqueraded as the hidden 13th option in an otherwise perfectly legal list of aids. However, since it was impossible to determine whether it had been used or not, the team escaped any punishment…only to find even more trouble later in the season, when at the German GP, Jos Verstappen’s B194 was engulfed in flames after a botched pitstop. Later, it was revealed that Benetton had removed the fuel filter from the hose in order to speed up the entire process, violating the rules (which forbade any modifications to the fueling equipment). Nonetheless, the team pleaded guilty and was merely fined for what many thought was an offence worthy of disqualification, going on to win the 1994 Drivers’ World Championship after Michael Schumacher’s infamous collision with rival Damon Hill at the season-ending Australian GP.
- The 2008 crashing controversy (also known as Crashgate): at the inaugural 2008 Singapore GP, Renault’s Nelson Piquet Jr. crash into a seemingly easy corner early on in the race brought out the Safety Car. Due to the rules at the time (back then cars were forbidden from entering the pit lane under Safety Car conditions) most front-runners got penalties for pitting and Piquet’s teammate Fernando Alonso (who had pitted just before the crash) managed to get into first place, going on to win the race. A few people questioned the timing of the incidents above, but didn’t do anything more, since it was thought that no team would actually instruct their driver to crash on purpose…until a year later when now-unemployed Piquet jr. spilled it all, explaining exactly how the team’s directors (Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds) instructed him to crash at a certain corner and in a certain lap, in order to maximize his teammate’s (who was found to have no knowledge of the whole thing) chances of winning. They were removed from their positions, Renault F1 Team left the sport within a year, but Alonso kept his win.
- The 2019 Ferrari engine saga: despite having an unreliable and underpowered engine at the start of the hybrid era in 2014, Ferrari had managed to catch Mercedes in that department, going on to win seven consecutive poles in 2019, while also winning races on power-heavy circuits such as Spa-Francochamps and Monza with rising star Charles Leclerc on what was essentially a rocket ship on wheels…but its opponents were suspecting that something was amiss, especially after a technical directive regarding an engine’s “fuel flow” ended Ferrari’s streak of poles – with the team denying it had any impact on its performance. Just before the 2020 season started however, FIA announced that it had reached an “agreement” with the Italian team in regards to its engine, which crucially was not described in the document as legal nor illegal. Whatever it was, it was not inside the red cars anymore, and Ferrari slipped way down the order, only recovering after a rules overhaul in 2022. The matter still remains heavily debated in F1 circles, with Ferrari fans denying that the engine was ever illegal, and everyone else describing the agreement above as FIA playing favorites with the Scuderia.
- The 2021 Safety Car controversy in Abu Dhabi: coming into the last race of a highly contested season, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton were level on points and were readying themselves for a thrilling, winner-takes-all finale. Verstappen got pole but Hamilton managed to overtake him at the first corner and virtually dominated the race from there on, getting closer to a record-breaking 8th title…until Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed a few laps before the end, bringing out the Safety Car. Verstappen pitted for brand-new soft tires, while Hamilton stayed put on his worn hards with Mercedes betting that the race would end under Safety Car conditions. It…didn’t, with race director Michael Masi (whose competence was at that point already doubted by everyone in the paddock) ordering just the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves (and not all, as per rule) thus allowing the SC to come into the pits at the end of the penultimate lap and essentially turning the race into a one-lap sprint to the finish. Verstappen passed Hamilton and won both the race and the championship, but almost instantly Mercedes protested the result. Said protest was unsuccessful, and Mercedes decided not to pursue any further action after FIA announced an inquiry into the race itself.
- Its results were published a few months after, and while it explicitly said that Masi “had acted in good faith”, it also stated that the outcome of the race “stemmed from human error”. Nonetheless, the championship results had already been validated, and Max Verstappen remained the 2021 World Champion.
- The 2005 Indianapolis GP: back in the 00’s, there were two tire suppliers: Bridgestone and Michelin. The first had an almost-exclusive relationship with Ferrari, while the second one supplied all other leading teams. Going into the 6th Indianapolis GP, the Toyota’s of Ralf Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta both had rear-left tire failures after a number of laps, prompting Michelin to investigate the matter…and realizing that due to a recent resurfacing of the track (which it had no idea about, but Bridgestone did thanks to its subsidiary Firestone supplying Indy Car, which had run its Indianapolis 500 the previous month) its tires could barely last 10 laps, much less the entire race as was the rule that year. So, all parties (with the exception of Ferrari, who just kept itself out of it all) sat down and tried to save the race, but then FIA president Max Mosley was against any modification on the oval Turn 13 (which was the cause of the failures), the teams made some proposals of their own that went nowhere, and eventually the 200.000 spectators were treated to a…6 car race between the Bridgestone teams (Ferrari and minnows Jordan, Minardi) which prompted outrage throughout the motorsport world.
- An inquiry (yes, FIA loves these!) resulted in Michelin paying a hefty fine and eventually abandoning the sport 18 months after, F1’s popularity in the US (the one territory in the world where it was not the leading motorsport series) utterly nosedived, and today the race is remembered by everyone for all the wrong reasons.
- The 2007 espionage controversy (also known as Spygate): in the start of the 2007 F1 season, disgruntled Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney met with his friend and colleague McLaren’s Mike Coughlan, giving him a 700-page dossier with all kinds of highly classified information on the entire Ferrari F1 operation, from car designs to strategy plans. FIA and Ferrari eventually connected the dots and dragged McLaren to court, but there was no evidence that the dossier’s contents were known to any other McLaren engineers, and the matter was closed there…until then-McLaren driver Fernando Alonso, alienated from what he thought was preferential treatment from the team to its other driver, rookie Lewis Hamilton, pretty much blackmailed team principal Ron Dennis that if the situation wouldn’t change, he would reveal to the world what he knew about Stepney’s dossier. A panicked Dennis immediately informed FIA president Max Mosley, and on the second investigation it was made known that in fact, a whole lot of people inside McLaren knew not just about the dossier’s existence but its contents as well. Thus (and despite Mosley’s calls for a two-year ban),McLaren was banned from the 2007 Constructors’ Championship and got a 100 million dollar fine (in the end it was rescinded to 50 million), but its drivers were able to fight for the Driver’s title, which they lost to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen on the final race – and it is widely thought (but not proven) that Macca sabotaged both its drivers in the last couple of races under FIA’s orders to make Raikkonen the champion instead of a driver on a “tarnished” team.
- The 2002 Austrian GP team orders controversy: yes, it was just the sixth round of the season, but pretty much everybody knew who would be the champion come October, with Michael Schumacher having won 4 of the past 5 races and looking utterly dominant. Same thing happened in Austria as well, but this time the other Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello led and was primed to win…until he braked just a few meters before the finish line in order to make Schumacher the winner, to the shock of millions worldwide. While the German did look extremely uncomfortable (going as far as to elevate Barrichello to the top step on the rostrum and give him the winners’ trophy), team principal Jean Todt defended his decision on the grounds that the championship was far from decided – even though after the race, Schumi’s tally of 54 points was double that of 2nd placed Montoya’s 27 – years after, both he and director Ross Brawn admitted that with Schumacher that far ahead, Barrichello should have been allowed to win. For what it’s worth, Michael returned the favor by letting his teammate through at Indianapolis later that year, along with a couple other Barrichello wins on which the then four-time world champion was driving…quite slow at times.
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 between 2020 and 2021 they were a midfield outing with the odd lucky podium here and there. The start of the 2022 season saw a reversal of fortune for the Scuderia coupled with the rule changes, which saw them spring back to the very top of the grid alongside Red Bull if not for some...interesting strategy decisions.
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 where they handily beat their "parent" before finally returning to Mercedes power in 2021. The first season with Mercedes power units was pretty positive - with them finishing fourth in the World Constructors' Championship, and they have responded reasonably well to the rule changes in 2022, sporting probably the midfield's most well-rounded package in spite of a terrible showing at the season opener in Bahrain.
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. Until 2020 it was owned by the late Sir Frank Williams, and until then it was the last remaining family-owned Formula One team: halfway through the 2020 season the team was bought by Dorilton Capital, and the ensuing departure of then-team principal Claire Williams heralded the End of an Era for the team.
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 Spanish 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 following the purchase of Toleman the season prior. They 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. Since then, however, the team has languished into the middle of the pack, with relatively stable top 10 finishes but not much beyond that. In 2021, the team was rebranded as Alpine in order to promote the historically successful sports car brand.
The involvement of Mercedes-Benz in the sport is a very interesting story. Before Formula One as we know it was created, Mercedes was one of the leading forces in pre-WWII grand prix racing - often clashing against fellow German team Auto Union (now better known as Audi). Mercedes made its official debut in Formula One in 1954, immediately winning the World Drivers' Championship with Juan Manuel Fangio; the next season proved to be just as successful with Fangio and Stirling Moss finishing first and second in the standings, but the 1955 Le Mans disaster caused the German team to withdraw from all motorsport endeavors. Although they returned as an engine supplier to the Circus in 1994, the Silver Arrows would not properly compete in Formula One again until 2010, when Daimler AG bought a controlling stake on the then-defending champions Brawn GP. The team was rebranded as Mercedes-AMG Petronas, and would slowly climb up the ranks of the grid with the odd race win here and there. Their fortune dramatically changed in 2014 and the shift to hybrid engines, and for the next 8 years the Silver Arrows began what is probably the single most dominating period in the sport's history, winning all but one title between 2014 and 2021 with the help of Lewis Hamilton as their lead driver. The rule changes in 2022 saw them return to their pre-2014 selves, ending up in a weird limbo where they noticeably lag behind against Red Bull and a now-rejuvenated Ferrari but are far ahead of the rest of the pack.
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.note 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)note 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, as well as the place where the Rock am Ring festival happens. 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 - also traditionally a very high-speed circuit, having been built from wartime airplane runways), 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 had 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 in 2001, 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 192kph, 67G 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 IndyCar.
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.
- Coming from the reverence the Japanese hold for Ayrton Senna, Koyu Nishimura's F no Senkou is a retelling of the 1991 season from Senna's point of view.
- 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 (played by Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl) 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.
- Driven ended up being about IndyCar (or rather, its then-incarnation CART), but was planned as an F1 movie, with Sylvester Stallone attending various races as study before the teams' secrecy prevented him from going through.
- Francesco Bernoulli from Cars 2 is designed after an F1 car. In addition, a few F1 drivers voice car versions of themselves throughout the trilogy.
- 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 (winner of the chaotic wet 1996 Monaco Grand Prix for Ligier). 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.
- 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 much from F1 2019 onwards, being usually released on May-June). Although EA Sports (who had the license between 1999 and 2002) have taken over as publishers, Codemasters are still the developers.
- 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 Räikkönen & 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 as well). 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 Räikkönen 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.
- The "Senna Forever" update for Horizon Chase adds a career mode based on Ayrton Senna's F1 career. Produced without an FIA license, it features expies of all the teams and racers of the time, and F1 itself is referred to as the "Biggest Racing Championship".
- Motorsport Manager features a F1 championship as its most prestigious championship, featuring expies of the teams and pilots of the first hybrid era from 2014 to 2021. The upcoming F1 Manager 22, developed by Frontier Developments (of Elite and Rollercoaster Tycoon fame), is poised as a fully licensed counterpart based on the 2022 season.
- Real Racing 3 introduced vintage F1 cars prior to its version 8.0 patch, such as the Ferrari 375 F1, 412 T2 and F14 T, and McLaren MP4/4. By the time of the game's version 8.0 patch, Formula 1 is officially introduced in its 2019 season where players can make use of the usual upgrade tree without consuming gold coins. The 2020 and 2021 seasons introduced the tuning setups, driver and team principal levels; tuning setups are purchased through M$ and driver and team principal upgrades use gold coins. The 2022 F1 cars in the game returned to using its standard upgrade tree, with the upgrade costs are not as expensive compared to the driver and team principal upgrades of the previous two seasons.
- 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.
- MiniDrivers 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