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While Europe is the sport's traditional base, the championship is truly global, with 11 of the 21 races in the season taking place outside Europe.
Its high profile and popularity have created a major merchandising environment, which has resulted in large investments from sponsors and budgets in the hundreds of millions for the constructors.
The formula is a set of rules that all participants' cars must meet. Formula One was a new formula agreed upon after World War II during , with the first non-championship races being held that year.
A number of Grand Prix racing organisations had laid out rules for a world championship before the war, but due to the suspension of racing during the conflict, the World Drivers' Championship was not formalised until The first world championship race was held at Silverstone , United Kingdom in A championship for constructors followed in National championships existed in South Africa and the UK in the s and s.
Non-championship Formula One events were held for many years, but due to the increasing cost of competition, the last of these occurred in The new logo replaces F1's iconic 'flying one', which was the sport's trademark since However, Fangio won the title in , , , , and His record of five World Championship titles stood for 45 years until German driver Michael Schumacher took his sixth title in , his streak interrupted after an injury by two-time champion Alberto Ascari of Ferrari.
Although the UK 's Stirling Moss was able to compete regularly, he was never able to win the world championship, and is now widely considered to be the greatest driver never to have won the title.
This period featured teams managed by road car manufacturers Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz , and Maserati ; all of whom had competed before the war.
The first seasons were run using pre-war cars like Alfa's They were front-engined , with narrow tyres and 1. The and World Championships were run to Formula Two regulations, for smaller, less powerful cars, due to concerns over the paucity of Formula One cars available.
Mercedes drivers won the championship for two years, before the team withdrew from all motorsport in the wake of the Le Mans disaster.
An era of British dominance was ushered in by Mike Hawthorn and Vanwall 's championship wins in , although Stirling Moss had been at the forefront of the sport without ever securing the world title.
The iconic British Racing Green Lotus , with a revolutionary aluminium-sheet monocoque chassis instead of the traditional space-frame design, was the dominant car, and in , the team broke new boundaries, when they were the first to carry advertising on their cars.
The first major technological development, Bugatti 's re-introduction of mid-engined cars following Ferdinand Porsche 's pioneering Auto Unions of the s , occurred with the Type , which was unsuccessful.
Australian Jack Brabham , world champion during , , and , soon proved the mid-engined design's superiority. By , all regular competitors had switched to mid-engined cars.
The Ferguson P99 , a four-wheel drive design, was the last front-engined F1 car to enter a world championship race. It was entered in the British Grand Prix , the only front-engined car to compete that year.
During , Lotus introduced a car with an aluminium-sheet monocoque chassis instead of the traditional space-frame design. This proved to be the greatest technological breakthrough since the introduction of mid-engined cars.
During , Lotus painted an Imperial Tobacco livery on their cars, thus introducing sponsorship to the sport.
Aerodynamic downforce slowly gained importance in car design from the appearance of aerofoils during the late s. During the late s, Lotus introduced ground-effect aerodynamics previously used on Jim Hall 's Chaparral 2J during that provided enormous downforce and greatly increased cornering speeds.
So great were the aerodynamic forces pressing the cars to the track up to five times the car's weight , extremely stiff springs were needed to maintain a constant ride height , leaving the suspension virtually solid, depending entirely on the tyres for any small amount of cushioning of the car and driver from irregularities of the road surface.
Beginning in the s, Bernie Ecclestone rearranged the management of Formula One's commercial rights; he is widely credited with transforming the sport into the multibillion-dollar business it now is.
Previously, the circuit owners controlled the income of the teams and negotiated with each individually; however Ecclestone persuaded the teams to "hunt as a pack" through FOCA.
In return for the package, almost all that was required was to surrender trackside advertising. FISA imposed a ban on ground-effect aerodynamics during By , a BMW turbocharged engine achieved a flash reading of 5.
To reduce engine power output and thus speeds, the FIA limited fuel tank capacity in , and boost pressures in , before banning turbocharged engines completely in The development of electronic driver aids began during the s.
Lotus began to develop a system of active suspension , which first appeared during on the By , this system had been perfected and was driven to victory by Ayrton Senna in the Monaco Grand Prix that year.
In the early s other teams followed suit and semi-automatic gearboxes and traction control were a natural progression. The FIA, due to complaints that technology was determining the outcome of races more than driver skill, banned many such aids for This resulted in cars that were previously dependent on electronic aids becoming very "twitchy" and difficult to drive particularly the Williams FW Many observers felt the ban on driver aids was in name only as they "proved difficult to police effectively".
The teams signed a second Concorde Agreement during and a third in , which expired on the last day of On the track, the McLaren and Williams teams dominated the s and s, with Brabham also being competitive during the early part of the s, winning two Drivers' Championships with Nelson Piquet.
Powered by Porsche , Honda , and Mercedes-Benz, McLaren won sixteen championships seven constructors' and nine drivers' in that period, while Williams used engines from Ford , Honda, and Renault to also win sixteen titles nine constructors' and seven drivers'.
The rivalry between racers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost became F1's central focus during , and continued until Prost retired at the end of Senna died at the San Marino Grand Prix after crashing into a wall on the exit of the notorious curve Tamburello , having taken over Prost's lead drive at Williams that year.
The FIA worked to improve the sport's safety standards since that weekend, during which Roland Ratzenberger also lost his life in an accident during Saturday qualifying.
No driver had died of injuries sustained on the track at the wheel of a Formula One car for 20 years, until the Japanese Grand Prix where Jules Bianchi collided with a recovery vehicle after aquaplaning off the circuit.
Since , three track marshals have lost their lives, one at the Italian Grand Prix ,  the second at the Australian Grand Prix  and the third at the Canadian Grand Prix.
This so-called 'narrow track' era resulted in cars with smaller rear tyres, a narrower track overall, and the introduction of grooved tyres to reduce mechanical grip.
There were to be four grooves on the front three in the first year and rear that ran through the entire circumference of the tyre. The objective was to reduce cornering speeds and to produce racing similar to rainy conditions by enforcing a smaller contact patch between tyre and track.
This, according to the FIA, was to promote driver skill and provide a better spectacle. The grooved tyres also had the unfortunate side effect of initially being of a harder compound to be able to hold the grooved tread blocks, which resulted in spectacular accidents in times of aerodynamic grip failure as the harder compound could not grip the track as well.
The teams won every Constructors' Championship from to as well as placing themselves as the top four teams in the Constructors' Championship in every season between and , and winning every race but one the Monaco Grand Prix between and Due to the technological advances of the s, the cost of competing in Formula One increased dramatically.
This increased financial burdens, combined with the dominance of four teams largely funded by big car manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz , caused the poorer independent teams to struggle not only to remain competitive, but to stay in business, and forced several teams to withdraw.
Since , twenty-eight teams have withdrawn from Formula One. This has prompted former Jordan owner Eddie Jordan to say that the days of competitive privateers are over.
Michael Schumacher and Ferrari won five consecutive Drivers' Championships — and six consecutive Constructors' Championships — Schumacher set many new records, including those for Grand Prix wins 91 , wins in a season thirteen of eighteen , and most Drivers' Championships seven.
During , Renault and Alonso won both titles again. Schumacher retired at the end of after sixteen years in Formula One, but came out of retirement for the season, racing for the newly formed Mercedes works team, following the rebrand of Brawn GP.
During this period, the championship rules were changed frequently by the FIA with the intention of improving the on-track action and cutting costs.
Other changes included the qualifying format, the points scoring system, the technical regulations, and rules specifying how long engines and tyres must last.
A "tyre war" between suppliers Michelin and Bridgestone saw lap times fall, although at the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, seven out of ten teams did not race when their Michelin tyres were deemed unsafe for use, leading to Bridgestone becoming the sole tyre supplier to Formula One for the season.
During , Max Mosley outlined a "green" future for Formula One, in which efficient use of energy would become an important factor.
Since , Formula One had been dominated by specialist race teams like Williams, McLaren, and Benetton, using engines supplied by large car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Renault, and Ford.
Starting in , with Ford's creation of the largely unsuccessful Jaguar team, new manufacturer-owned teams entered Formula One for the first time since the departure of Alfa Romeo and Renault at the end of By , the manufacturer teams—Renault, BMW , Toyota , Honda, and Ferrari—dominated the championship, taking five of the first six places in the Constructors' Championship.
The sole exception was McLaren, which at the time was part-owned by Mercedes Benz. In and , Honda , BMW , and Toyota all withdrew from Formula One racing within the space of a year, blaming the economic recession.
This resulted in the end of manufacturer dominance within the sport. Brawn GP went through a painful size reduction, laying off hundreds of employees, but eventually won the year's world championships with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.
The Lotus F1 Team  were another, formerly manufacturer-owned team that reverted to "privateer" ownership, together with the buy-out of the Renault team by Genii Capital investors.
A link with their previous owners still survived however, with their car continuing to be powered by a Renault Power Unit until McLaren also announced that it was to reacquire the shares in its team from Mercedes Benz McLaren's partnership with Mercedes was reported to have started to sour with the McLaren Mercedes SLR road car project and tough F1 championships which included McLaren being found guilty of spying on Ferrari.
Hence, during the season, Mercedes Benz re-entered the sport as a manufacturer after its purchase of Brawn GP , and split with McLaren after 15 seasons with the team.
This left Mercedes , McLaren , and Ferrari as the only car manufacturers in the sport, although both McLaren and Ferrari began as racing teams rather than manufacturers.
To compensate for the loss of manufacturer teams, four new teams were accepted entry into the season ahead of a much anticipated 'cost-cap' see below.
Entrants included a reborn Team Lotus — which was led by a Malaysian consortium including Tony Fernandes , the boss of Air Asia ; Hispania Racing — the first Spanish Formula One team; as well as Virgin Racing — Richard Branson 's entry into the series following a successful partnership with Brawn the year before.
They were also joined by the US F1 Team , which planned to run out of the United States as the only non-European based team in the sport.
Financial issues befell the squad before they even made the grid. Despite the entry of these new teams, the proposed cost-cap was repealed and these teams — who did not have the budgets of the midfield and top-order teams — ran around at the back of the field until they inevitably collapsed; HRT in , Caterham formerly Lotus in and Manor formerly Virgin then Marussia , having survived falling into administration in , went under at the end of A rule shake-up in , meant Mercedes emerged as the dominant force, with Lewis Hamilton winning the championship closely followed by his main rival and teammate, Nico Rosberg , with the team winning 16 out of the 19 races that season all other victories coming from Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull.
Marussia returned under the Manor name in , a season in which Ferrari were the only challenger to Mercedes, with Vettel taking victory in the three Grands Prix Mercedes did not win.
The season began in dominant fashion for Nico Rosberg, winning the first 4 Grands Prix. His charge was halted by Max Verstappen , who took his maiden win in Spain in his debut race for Red Bull.
After that, the reigning champion Lewis Hamilton decreased the point gap between him and Rosberg to only one point, before taking the championship lead heading into the summer break.
Following the break, the 1—2 positioning remained constant until an engine failure for Hamilton in Malaysia left Rosberg in a commanding lead that he would not relinquish in the 5 remaining races.
Having won the title by a mere 5 points, Rosberg retired from Formula One at season's end. The final team remaining from the new entries process, Manor Racing , withdrew from the sport following the season, having lost 10th in the Constructors' Championship to Sauber with one race remaining, leaving the grid at 20 cars as Liberty Media took control of the series in the off-season.
In , Renault came back to the sport after buying back the Lotus F1 team and in , Aston Martin became Red Bull's title sponsor, indicating that the manufacturers are starting to come back to the sport.
The beginnings of the dispute are numerous, and many of the underlying reasons may be lost in history. In addition, the battle revolved around the commercial aspects of the sport the FOCA teams were unhappy with the disbursement of proceeds from the races and the technical regulations which, in FOCA's opinion, tended to be malleable according to the nature of the transgressor more than the nature of the transgression.
In theory, all FOCA teams were supposed to boycott the Grand Prix as a sign of solidarity and complaint at the handling of the regulations and financial compensation and extreme opposition to the accession of Balestre to the position of FISA president: Notable among these were the Tyrrell and Toleman teams.
During the season of Formula One, the sport was gripped in a governance crisis. The FIA President Max Mosley proposed numerous cost cutting measures for the following season, including an optional budget cap for the teams;  teams electing to take the budget cap would be granted greater technical freedom, adjustable front and rear wings and an engine not subject to a rev limiter.
However, talks broke down and FOTA teams announced, with the exception of Williams and Force India ,   that 'they had no choice' but to form a breakaway championship series.
On 24 June, an agreement was reached between Formula One's governing body and the teams to prevent a breakaway series. It was agreed teams must cut spending to the level of the early s within two years; exact figures were not specified,  and Max Mosley agreed he would not stand for re-election to the FIA presidency in October.
These events often took place on circuits that were not suitable for the World Championship, and featured local cars and drivers as well as those competing in the Championship.
In the early years of Formula One, before the world championship was established, there were around twenty races held from late Spring to early Autumn in Europe, although not all of these were considered significant.
Most competitive cars came from Italy, particularly Alfa Romeo. After the start of the world championship, these non-championship races continued.
In the s and s, there were many Formula One races which did not count for the World Championship; in a total of twenty-two Formula One races were held, of which only six counted towards the World Championship.
Some races, particularly in the UK, including the Race of Champions , Oulton Park International Gold Cup and the International Trophy , were attended by the majority of the world championship contenders.
Other smaller events were regularly held in locations not part of the championship, such as the Syracuse and Danish Grands Prix, although these only attracted a small amount of the championship teams and relied on private entries and lower Formula cars to make up the grid.
South Africa's flourishing domestic Formula One championship ran from through to The frontrunning cars in the series were recently retired from the world championship although there was also a healthy selection of locally built or modified machines.
Frontrunning drivers from the series usually contested their local World Championship Grand Prix, as well as occasional European events, although they had little success at that level.
As in South Africa a decade before, second hand cars from manufacturers like Lotus and Fittipaldi Automotive were the order of the day, although some, such as the March , were built specifically for the series.
A Formula One Grand Prix event spans a weekend. It begins with two free practice sessions on Friday except in Monaco, where Friday practices are moved to Thursday , and one free practice on Saturday.
Additional drivers commonly known as third drivers are allowed to run on Fridays, but only two cars may be used per team, requiring a race driver to give up his seat.
A qualifying session is held after the last free practice session. This session determines the starting order for the race on Sunday.
The new rule for F1 tyre in is that the regulations would allow Pirelli to select three different tyres for each race, and each team could choose the tyre from those three depending on the strategies.
This concept would continue in , but with Pirelli's thicker and wider tyres that tested extensively last year. Tyre selections are announced over a month before each event, with rules stating Pirelli must announce compounds nine weeks before a European round and 15 weeks before a long-haul event.
Drivers ordinarily select 10 of the 13 sets available for a race weekend, though Pirelli's new tyres means the Italian company will force each driver to stick to the same allocations for the first five races as it learns about the new tyre.
That means for the opening five races, drivers will have seven of the softest compound, four of the middle compound and two of the hardest compound available.
Pirelli has backup compounds for introduction later in the season, if its initial batch proves to be too conservative in terms of performance or leads to greater levels of degradation than expected.
For much of the sport's history, qualifying sessions differed little from practice sessions; drivers would have one or more sessions in which to set their fastest time, with the grid order determined by each driver's best single lap, with the fastest on pole position.
Grids were generally limited to 26 cars — if the race had more entries, qualification would also decide which drivers would start the race.
During the early s, the number of entries was so high that the worst-performing teams had to enter a pre-qualifying session, with the fastest cars allowed through to the main qualifying session.
The qualifying format began to change in the early s, with the FIA experimenting with limiting the number of laps, determining the aggregate time over two sessions, and allowing each driver only one qualifying lap.
The current qualifying system was adopted in the season. Known as "knock-out" qualifying, it is split into three periods, known as Q1, Q2, and Q3.
In each period, drivers run qualifying laps to attempt to advance to the next period, with the slowest drivers being "knocked out" of qualification but not necessarily the race at the end of the period and their grid positions set within the rearmost five based on their best lap times.
Drivers are allowed as many laps as they wish within each period. After each period, all times are reset, and only a driver's fastest lap in that period barring infractions counts.
Any timed lap started before the end of that period may be completed, and will count toward that driver's placement.
The number of cars eliminated in each period is dependent on the total number of cars entered into the championship.
Otherwise, all drivers proceed to the race albeit in the worst starting positions. This rule does not affect drivers in Q2 or Q3.
In Q2, the 15 remaining drivers have 15 minutes to set one of the ten fastest times and proceed to the next period. Finally, Q3 lasts 12 minutes and sees the remaining ten drivers decide the first ten grid positions.
At the beginning of the Formula 1 season, the FIA introduced a new qualifying format, whereby drivers were knocked out every 90 seconds after a certain amount of time had passed in each session.
The aim was to mix up grid positions for the race, but due to unpopularity the FIA reverted to the above qualifying format for the Chinese GP, after running the format for only two races.
Each car taking part in Q3 receives an 'extra' set of the softest available tyre. This set has to be handed in after qualifying, drivers knocked out in Q1 or Q2 can use this set for the race.
The first ten drivers, i. In which case all of the rules about the tyres won't be followed. Any penalties that affect grid position are applied at the end of qualifying.
Grid penalties can be applied for driving infractions in the previous or current Grand Prix, or for changing a gearbox or engine component.
If a car fails scrutineering, the driver will be excluded from qualifying, but will be allowed to start the race from the back of the grid at the race steward's discretion.
The race begins with a warm-up lap, after which the cars assemble on the starting grid in the order they qualified. This lap is often referred to as the formation lap, as the cars lap in formation with no overtaking although a driver who makes a mistake may regain lost ground provided he has not fallen to the back of the field.
The warm-up lap allows drivers to check the condition of the track and their car, gives the tyres a chance to warm up to increase traction, and also gives the pit crews time to clear themselves and their equipment from the grid.
Once all the cars have formed on the grid, a light system above the track indicates the start of the race: The start procedure may be abandoned if a driver stalls on the grid, signalled by raising his arm.
If this happens, the procedure restarts: The race may also be restarted in the event of a serious accident or dangerous conditions, with the original start voided.
The race may be started from behind the Safety Car if officials feel a racing start would be excessively dangerous, such as extremely heavy rainfall.
As of the season, there will always be a standing restart. If due to heavy rainfall a start behind the safety car is necessary, then after the track has dried sufficiently, drivers will form up for a standing start.
There is no formation lap when races start behind the Safety Car. Under normal circumstances, the winner of the race is the first driver to cross the finish line having completed a set number of laps.
Race officials may end the race early putting out a red flag due to unsafe conditions such as extreme rainfall, and it must finish within two hours, although races are only likely to last this long in the case of extreme weather or if the safety car is deployed during the race.
However, street races like Monaco have shorter distances, to keep under the two-hour limit. If a leader comes across a back marker slower car who has completed fewer laps, the back marker is shown a blue flag  telling him he is obliged to allow the leader to overtake him.
The slower car is said to be "lapped" and, once the leader finishes the race, is classified as finishing the race "one lap down". A driver can be lapped numerous times, by any car in front of him.
A driver who fails to finish a race, through mechanical problems, accident, or any other reason is said to have retired from the race and is "Not Classified" in the results.
Throughout the race, drivers may make pit stops to change tyres and repair damage from to inclusive, they could also refuel. Different teams and drivers employ different pit stop strategies in order to maximise their car's potential.
Three dry tyre compounds, with different durability and adhesion characteristics, are available to drivers. Over the course of a race, drivers must use two of the three available compounds.
The different compounds have different levels of performance, and choosing when to use which compound is a key tactical decision to make.
Different tyres have different colours on their sidewalls ; this allows spectators to understand the strategies. Under wet conditions, drivers may switch to one of two specialised wet weather tyres with additional grooves one "intermediate", for mild wet conditions, such as after recent rain, one "full wet", for racing in or immediately after rain.
A driver must make at least one stop to use two tyre compounds; up to three stops are typically made, although further stops may be necessary to fix damage or if weather conditions change.
If rain tyres are used, drivers are no longer obliged to use both types of dry tyres. The format of the race has changed little through Formula One's history.
The main changes have revolved around what is allowed at pit stops. In the early days of Grand Prix racing, a driver would be allowed to continue a race in his teammate's car should his develop a problem—in the modern era, cars are so carefully fitted to drivers that this has become impossible.
In recent years, the emphasis has been on changing refuelling and tyre change regulations. From the season, refuelling—which was reintroduced in —has not been allowed, to encourage less tactical racing following safety concerns.
The rule requiring both compounds of tyre to be used during the race was introduced in , again to encourage racing on the track.
The safety car is another relatively recent innovation that reduced the need to deploy the red flag, allowing races to be completed on time for a growing international live television audience.
Various systems for awarding championship points have been used since The current system, in place since , awards the top ten cars points in the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships, with the winner receiving 25 points.
If both cars of a team finish in the points, they both receive Constructors' Championship points. All points won at each race are added up, and the driver and constructor with the most points at the end of the season are crowned World Champions.
Regardless of whether a driver stays with the same team throughout the season, or switches teams, all points earned by him count for the Drivers' Championship.
A driver must be classified to receive points. Therefore, it is possible for a driver to receive points even if they retired before the end of the race.
This has happened on only five occasions in the history of the championship, and it had a notable influence on the final standing of the season.
The last occurrence was at the Malaysian Grand Prix when the race was called off after 31 laps due to torrential rain.
Since ,  Formula One teams have been required to build the chassis in which they compete, and consequently the terms "team" and "constructor" became more or less interchangeable.
This requirement distinguishes the sport from series such as the IndyCar Series which allows teams to purchase chassis, and " spec series " such as GP2 , which require all cars be kept to an identical specification.
It also effectively prohibits privateers , which were common even in Formula One well into the s. The sport's debut season, , saw eighteen teams compete, but due to high costs many dropped out quickly.
In fact, such was the scarcity of competitive cars for much of the first decade of Formula One that Formula Two cars were admitted to fill the grids.
Ferrari is the oldest Formula One team, the only still-active team which competed in Early manufacturer involvement came in the form of a "factory team" or " works team " that is, one owned and staffed by a major car company , such as those of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, or Renault.
After having virtually disappeared by the early s, factory teams made a comeback in the s and s and formed up to half the grid with Ferrari, Jaguar, BMW, Renault, Toyota, and Honda either setting up their own teams or buying out existing ones.
Factory teams make up the top competitive teams; in wholly owned factory teams took four of the top five positions in the Constructors' Championship, and McLaren the other.
Ferrari holds the record for having won the most Constructors' Championships sixteen. However, by the end of the s factory teams were once again on the decline with only Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Renault lodging entries to the championship.
Companies such as Climax , Repco , Cosworth , Hart , Judd and Supertec , which had no direct team affiliation, often sold engines to teams that could not afford to manufacture them.
In the early years, independently owned Formula One teams sometimes also built their engines, though this became less common with the increased involvement of major car manufacturers such as BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, and Toyota, whose large budgets rendered privately built engines less competitive.
Cosworth was the last independent engine supplier. Beginning in , the manufacturers' deep pockets and engineering ability took over, eliminating the last of the independent engine manufacturers.
In the season, for the first time since the rule, two teams used chassis built by other teams. Super Aguri started the season using a modified Honda Racing RA chassis used by Honda the previous year , while Scuderia Toro Rosso used the same chassis used by the parent Red Bull Racing team, which was formally designed by a separate subsidiary.
The usage of these loopholes was ended for with the publication of new technical regulations, which require each constructor to own the intellectual property rights to their chassis,  which prevents a team using a chassis owned by another Formula One constructor.
As a consequence, constructors desiring to enter Formula One often prefer to buy an existing team: BAR 's purchase of Tyrrell and Midland 's purchase of Jordan allowed both of these teams to sidestep the large deposit and secure the benefits the team already had, such as TV revenue.
Every team in Formula One must run two cars in every session in a Grand Prix weekend, and every team may use up to four drivers in a season.
Each driver chooses an unassigned number from 2 to 99 excluding 17  upon entering Formula One, and keeps that number during his time in the series.
The number one is reserved for the reigning Drivers' Champion, who retains his previous number and may choose to but doesn't have to use it instead of the number one.
The teams would hold those numbers from season to season with the exception of the team with the world Drivers' Champion, which would swap its numbers with the one and two of the previous champion's team.
New entrants were allocated spare numbers, with the exception of the number 13 which had been unused since A total of 33 separate drivers have won the world championship, with Michael Schumacher holding the record for most championships with seven, as well as holding the race wins record.
Juan Manuel Fangio and Lewis Hamilton have won the next most, on five championships each. Fangio gained the greatest percentage of wins, with 24 out of 52 entries.
Jochen Rindt is the only posthumous World Champion, after his points total was not overhauled despite his fatal accident at the Italian Grand Prix.
Drivers from the United Kingdom have been the most successful in the sport, with 14 championships from 10 drivers, and wins from Most F1 drivers start in kart racing competitions, and then come up through traditional European single seater series like Formula Ford and Formula Renault to Formula 3 , and finally the GP2 Series.
GP2 started in , replacing Formula , which itself had replaced Formula Two as the last major stepping-stone into F1.
More rarely a driver may be picked from an even lower level, as was the case with World Champion Kimi Räikkönen , who went straight from Formula Renault to F1, as well as Max Verstappen , who made his debut following a single season in European F3.
American open-wheel car racing has also contributed to the Formula One grid with mixed results. Other drivers have taken different paths to F1; Damon Hill raced motorbikes, and Michael Schumacher raced in sports cars , albeit after climbing through the junior single seater ranks.
To race, however, the driver must hold an FIA Super Licence —ensuring that the driver has the requisite skills, and will not therefore be a danger to others.
Some drivers have not had the licence when first signed to a F1 team; Räikkönen received the licence despite having only 23 car races to his credit.
Most F1 drivers retire in their mid to late 30s. Some drivers have moved from F1 to racing in disciplines with fewer races during the season.
Others, such as Damon Hill and Jackie Stewart , take active roles in running motorsport in their own countries. Carlos Reutemann became a politician and served as governor of his native state in Argentina.
The number of Grands Prix held in a season has varied over the years. The inaugural world championship season comprised only seven races, while the season contained twenty-one races.
Although throughout the first decades of the world championship there were no more than eleven Grands Prix a season, a large number of non-championship Formula One events also took place.
More Grands Prix began to be held in the s, and recent seasons have seen an average of 19 races. In the calendar peaked at twenty-one events, the highest number of world championship races in one season.
Six of the original seven races took place in Europe; the only non-European race that counted towards the World Championship in was the Indianapolis , which was held to different regulations and later replaced by the United States Grand Prix.
The F1 championship gradually expanded to other non-European countries. Asia Japan in and Oceania Australia in followed, and the first race in the Middle East was held in The nineteen races of the season were spread over every populated continent except for Africa, with ten Grands Prix held outside Europe.
Some of the Grands Prix, such as the oldest recognised event the French Grand Prix , pre-date the formation of the World Championship and were incorporated into the championship as Formula One races in The Monaco Grand Prix , first held in and run continuously since , is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world.
Traditionally each nation has hosted a single Grand Prix, which carries the name of the country. If a single country hosts multiple Grands Prix in a year they receive different names.
In European countries, the second event has often been titled the European Grand Prix , or named after a neighbouring state without a race. The United States has held six separate Grands Prix, including the Indianapolis , with the additional events named after the host city.
Grands Prix are not always held at the same circuit each year, and may switch locations due to the suitability of the track or the financial status of the race organisers.
The German Grand Prix currently alternates between the Nürburgring and Hockenheimring circuits, and others such as the American and French races have switched venues throughout their history.
All Grands Prix have traditionally been run during the day, until the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix hosted the first Formula One night race,  which was followed in by the day—night Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and then the Bahrain Grand Prix which converted to a night race in Along with holding races at night, other Grands Prix in Asia have had their start times adjusted to benefit the European television audience.
A typical circuit usually features a stretch of straight road on which the starting grid is situated. The pit lane , where the drivers stop for tyres, aerodynamic adjustments and minor repairs such as changing the car's nose due to front wing damage during the race, retirements from the race, and where the teams work on the cars before the race, is normally located next to the starting grid.
The layout of the rest of the circuit varies widely, although in most cases the circuit runs in a clockwise direction. Those few circuits that run anticlockwise and therefore have predominantly left-handed corners can cause drivers neck problems due to the enormous lateral forces generated by F1 cars pulling their heads in the opposite direction to normal.
Most of the circuits currently in use are specially constructed for competition. The current street circuits are Monaco , Melbourne , Singapore , Sochi and Baku although races in other urban locations come and go Las Vegas and Detroit , for example and proposals for such races are often discussed—most recently New Jersey.
Several circuits have been completely laid out on public roads in the past, such as Valencia in Spain, though Monaco is the only one that remains.
The glamour and history of the Monaco race are the primary reasons why the circuit is still in use, even though it does not meet the strict safety requirements imposed on other tracks.
Three-time World champion Nelson Piquet famously described racing in Monaco as "like riding a bicycle around your living room". Circuit design to protect the safety of drivers is becoming increasingly sophisticated, as exemplified by the new Bahrain International Circuit , added in and designed—like most of F1's new circuits—by Hermann Tilke.
Several of the new circuits in F1, especially those designed by Tilke, have been criticised as lacking the "flow" of such classics as Spa-Francorchamps and Imola.
His redesign of the Hockenheim circuit in Germany for example, while providing more capacity for grandstands and eliminating extremely long and dangerous straights, has been frowned upon by many who argue that part of the character of the Hockenheim circuits was the long and blinding straights into dark forest sections.
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