What Formula 1 is all about...
Formula 1, abbreviated to F1, and also known as Grand Prix racing, is the highest class of auto racing defined by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), motor sport's world governing body. The "formula" in the name is a set of rules which all participants and cars must meet.
The F1 world championship season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix, held usually on purpose-built circuits, and in a few cases on closed city streets. The results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for drivers and one for constructors. It is a massive television event with millions of people watching each race in more than 200 countries.
The cars race at high speeds, often well above 300 km/h (190 mph). The formula introduces a number of restrictions and specifications that cars must meet. These are designed, amongst other things, to keep the ever-increasing cornering speeds in safe ranges. The performance of the cars is highly dependent on electronics, aerodynamics, suspension and tyres. The formula has seen many evolutions and changes through the history of the sport. There have been many different types of engines; normally aspirated, supercharged and turbocharged, ranging from straight-4 to H16, with displacements from 1.5 litres to 4.5 litres. The maximum power achieved in the history of the series was around 1200 bhp in racing trim, during the 1980s turbo era.
Europe is Formula One's traditional centre and remains its leading market. However, Grands Prix have been held all over the world, and with new races in Bahrain, China, Malaysia and Turkey since 1999, its scope continues to expand. As the world's most expensive sport, its economic effect is significant, and its financial and political battles are widely observed. Its high profile and popularity makes it an obvious merchandising environment, which leads to very high investments from sponsors, translating into extremely high budgets for the constructor teams. In recent years several teams such as Prost and Arrows have gone bankrupt.
The sport is regulated by the FIA, with its headquarters in Place de la Concorde, Paris. Its current president is Max Mosley. Formula One's commercial rights are vested in the Formula One Group, now owned by Alpha Prema. Although now a minority shareholder, the sport is still generally promoted and controlled by Bernie Ecclestone. Since CVC's purchase the complicated (and according to some sources such as The Economist "murky") business structure has been simplified, leading to suggestions that the Formula One Group could soon be floated.
For more information why not visit www.f1.com.