Ten Surprising Facts about the History of Formula One

We’re only seven races into the season, but bookmakers and fans alike are certain that this Driver’s Championship is once more Sebastian Vettel’s.

But before you despair at the predictability of it all, there are still 12 races to come: Britain at the end of this month; Germany and Hungary in July; Belgium in August; Italy and Singapore in September; Korea, Japan and India in October; Abu Dhabi, US and Brazil in November.
If Vettel is victorious in 2013, he will equal Juan Manuel Fangio’s impressive record of four consecutive Championships.
Here are 10 more little known facts about the sport’s rich history.
#1 It’s always been about the rules
Tyre regulations and testing restrictions may seem to dominate the sport’s headlines, but debate over technical rules is not a new issue. This tight, prescriptive regulation is the foundation of the sport. ‘Formula One’ refers to a particular formula of rules and regulations that apply to this class of motorsport, with different formulae for other classes of single-seater racing.
#2 In the beginning it was called ‘Formula A’
In 1946 governing body Commission Sportive Internationale (which later became the FIA) outlined the premier single-seater racing category in worldwide motorsport, and called it Formula A, with the next category labelled Formula B. In 1950, the 500c racing series became known as Formula 3, so the B and A categories were changed accordingly.
#3 The first F1 race was not held at Silverstone
The first ever F1 Championship race was held at Silverstone in May 1950, but this was not the first ever F1 race. Until 1983 only around seven or eight of the F1 races held each season counted towards the Championship. A month before the race at Silverstone, the first ever F1 race had been held in Pau, France.
#4 Ferrari is the only team to have competed in every season since F1’s inception in 1950
The Italian based team has clocked up more than 200 race wins over the 63 years. McLaren, the next longest competing constructor didn’t enter F1 until 1960, with Williams signing up in 1978.
#5 The first ever F1 champion was Giuseppe “Nino” Farina
Farina’s name was forgotten by many as he was quickly overshadowed by Juan Manuel Fangio, who won the following season, and then again in 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957.
#6 Sterling Moss was the first ever winner in a rear-engine car
In 1958 Stirling Moss became the first driver to win an F1 race in a rear-engine car. By 1961, all manufacturers had recognised the superior traction the design delivered to the rear wheels, and that season all competing cars adopted the layout.
#7 Until the 1990s, safety in F1 was an afterthought
The first safety regulations were not implemented until 1960, 10 years after the inception of the sport. In that first decade of racing 13 drivers had lost their lives.
Driver’s seatbelts were not made compulsory until 1972, five years after the fitting of front seat belts became compulsory in the UK for road vehicles. This must have been an insurance nightmare for the F1! Not only do you generally pay more to insure a high performance car, without seat belts the risk of an accident is much higher.
For 20 years there were no rules governing spectators. Footage from pre-1970s races shows crowds of people roaming the pit lane even as drivers tried to re-join the race.
#8 Nikki Lauda escaped death and suffered serious burns, yet only had six weeks away from the sport
In a near fatal crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix, Lauda’s helmet came off, and while he was trapped in the wreckage his head was engulfed in flames and he inhaled toxic gases. Despite this near-death experience, Lauda took just six weeks to recover, and missed only two races. James Hunt took the 1976 title, but Lauda went on to win the Championship in 1977 and 1984, adding to his 1975 Championship win.
#9 Ayrton Senna was the second driver to die at Imola that weekend

When Ayrton Senna was killed at the San Marino Grand Prix, on 1st May 1994, he was the second driver to die at the race that weekend. In Saturday qualifying Roland Ratzenberger ‘s Simtek suffered a front wing failure and struck a wall at 195mph. After Ratzenberger’s death Senna sobbed in the arms of driver’s doctor Professor Sid Watkins, who encouraged Senna to give it all up and “go fishing”.

#10 There have been 10 sons who have followed their fathers into Formula One
Not all have enjoyed great success, but in just 63 years the sport has seen 10 sons follow in their fathers’ footsteps.
Hans and Hans-Joachim Stuck – Hans raced in the 1930s, and Hans-Joachim enjoyed a handful of podium finishes in the 1970s.
Mario and Michael Andretti – Both enjoyed successful careers in US motorsport, but Michael was unable to match Mario’s title win, and bowed out of Formula One after just one rocky season with McLaren.
Manfred and Markus Winkelhock – Both had ambition but sadly limited success.
Jack and David Brabham – While Jack lit up the sport winning three world titles, including the 1966 Championship while driving for the team he had formed three years earlier, David struggled through the 1990 and 1994 seasons with back-of-the-grid teams.
Graham and Damon Hill – In 1996 Graham and Damon Hill became the first father and son F1 world champions, when Damon won his first, and only title. Graham had won the Championship in 1962, but sadly did not live to see his son equal his achievement, as he died in a plane crash when Damon was just 15.
Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve – In 1997 Jacques Villeneuve won the Driver’s Championship, something which his father Gilles had been unable to do before he died, aged 32, at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.
Antonio and Alberto Ascari – The most tragic coupling in the sport. Both competed in Formula One and both died behind the wheel of a racing car, at just 36 years old.
Nelson and Nelson Junior Piquet – Whilst Nelson Piquet won the Championship three times, in 1981, 1983 and 1987, his son’s career was less dazzling, and ended in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix Renault crash controversy.
Satoru and Kazuki Nakajima – Satoru Nakajima completed 80 Grand Prix races and never once made it to the podium. Despite this lack of glory, he is credited with bringing F1 to Japan. His son Kazuki cemented his place in F1 history on his debut, when he ran over two of his mechanics.
Keke and Nico Rosberg – The Rosberg’s became the first father and son combination to win the Monaco Grand Prix after Nico successfully converted his pole position in Monte Carlo this year.
Although Nico looks unlikely to take the 2013 title, he looks set to at least equal, if not better his father’s one Driver’s Championship win.

In partnetrship with Compare the Market

James Franklin

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