70 Years of Racing
The first F1 race for a world championship was in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1950. There were 22 races that year, but only six of them counted towards the world championship. However, a Grand Prix had already taken place long before this: the French car race that was held at Le Mans in 1901. 50 years between the race at Le Mans and the first world championship race might not sound very long, but in the development of cars, it was an era that saw them improve at an amazing pace and car racing contributed heavily to this.
In 1904, the FIA was formed but it was 1933 before any form of qualifying was established, at the Monaco Grand Prix. The outbreak of war stopped much else happening in the sport until 1946 when the rules were agreed. They were called Formula 1, the name that was eventually transferred to the sport.
It was 1953 before any of the F1 races moved outside of Europe, the first non-European one being in Argentina. It was 1958 before one was held in Africa and 1976 before the first one was held in Asia.
While there is undoubtedly nearly always a favorite car at any given circuit, a talented driver in a lesser car perhaps with better tactics – or sometimes even just a lucky break – is always capable of stealing a win. In fact, an underdog unexpectedly performing well usually provides some of the most thrilling races.
But skill matters in any sport and F1 is no exception. If no skill were involved and it was down just to the quality of the cars, it would not matter who the driver is: the best car would win every race. This would have a knock-on effect in several areas.
Car makers would be less inclined to take part, the circuits would not want to hold the races and fans would soon lose interest. This would then affect the amount of revenue from merchandising and advertising as well as the online casinos that take sports bets – what good would a list of odds on Oddschecker be if everyone already knew which car was going to win?
Thankfully, skill is involved and the FIA have made certain that some of the parts that are so much use to cars on the roads are not used in F1. Grand Prix racing is safe for the time being at least. So are the circuits, the merchandisers, the betting fans and the advertisers.
F1 Innovations Transferred To Cars
Car manufacturers use their experience of running a team in F1 to help them develop improvements for road cars. In most cases, the parts that are adjusted to be suitable for road use are a variation of the parts originally developed for F1 cars, but there are exceptions.
Road cars have a much better braking system, for instance. The idea behind car brakes is simple; they have to slow the car down as quickly and safely as possible. In most cases, including F1 cars, this is achieved by using disc brakes, which are made with rotating discs that are attached to the wheels. This is squeezed between two brake pads by a hydraulic caliper. This action creates a lot of heat and light, which is why you sometimes see them glow in a Grand Prix race.
If too much power is applied, it can cause the car to spin or the brakes to lock. Road cars have an anti-skid system that prevents this from happening, but these were banned from use in F1 cars in the 1990s. Prevention of spinning and locking the brakes is down to the skill of the F1 driver.
The only thing that is superior about F1 cars brakes are the materials used, which are typically a carbon fiber composite, which very few road cars have because of the cost involved. Other innovations such as direct-shift gearboxes, keyless starts, better suspension, superchargers, carbon fiber parts, and safety solutions have all been moved from racing cars to road cars without much need to alter them at all.
The standard of the cars, the parts used and the safety innovations have all improved greatly since those early days and it has been over 20 years since a driver died at the wheel of an F1 car. It is a sad fact that the same cannot be said for road users, but then they are not as highly trained as F1 drivers and they have to cope with junctions and other obstructions that you do not have on a Grand Prix circuit.