The FIA Formula One World Championship has been the premier form of racing since the inaugural season in 1950, although other Formula One races were regularly held until 1983. The “formula”, designated in the name, refers to a set of rules, to which all participants’ cars must conform.
The F1 season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix (from French, meaning grand prizes), held worldwide on purpose-built F1 circuits and public roads.
The results of each race are evaluated using a points system to determine two annual World Championships, one for drivers, one for constructors. The racing drivers are required to be holders of valid Super Licences, the highest class of racing licence issued by the FIA.
The races are required to be held on tracks graded 1 (formerly A), the highest grade a track can receive by the FIA. Most events are held in rural locations on purpose-built tracks, but there are several events in city centres throughout the world, with the Monaco Grand Prix being the most famous example.
Formula One cars are the fastest road course racing cars in the world, owing to very high cornering speeds achieved through the generation of large amounts of aerodynamic downforce. Formula One cars race at speeds of up to approximately 375 km/h (233 mph) with engines currently limited in performance to a maximum of 15,000 RPM. The cars are capable of lateral acceleration in excess of five g in corners. The performance of the cars is very dependent on electronics – although traction control and other driving aids have been banned since 2008 – and on aerodynamics, suspension, and tyres. The formula has radically evolved and changed through the history of the sport.
While Europe is the sport’s traditional base, and hosts about half of each year’s races, the sport’s scope has expanded significantly and an increasing number of Grands Prix are held on other continents.
Grand Prix racing began in 1906 and became the most popular type internationally in the second half of the twentieth century. The Formula One Group is the legal holder of the commercial rights.
On 8 September 2016 it was announced that Liberty Media Corp. had agreed to buy Delta Topco, the company that controls Formula One, from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for $4.4 billion in cash, stock and convertible debt. On 23 January 2017 it was confirmed that Liberty Media had completed its $8 billion acquisition of Delta Topco