The Historic Formula One Championship ™ is at the pinnacle of historic motorsport. Its fans get a taste of classic old school Formula 1 and thrill to the sights and sounds of the cars driven by legends such as Gilles Villeneuve, Nigel Mansell, Emerson Fittipaldi and Keke Rosberg. The Championship features the great Grand Prix cars raced between 1966 and 1985 re-creating the spectacle of the legendary 3 litre Formula 1 era on the great Race Circuits of the World.
The field covers a 20-year period of Formula 1 racing and, naturally, there is a vast speed differential between the elder cars such as Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell 001 and the latter machines like the Steffan Johannsen Tyrrell 012 and Brabham BT49. To level the playing field, the championship is split into 4 classes according to age and design characteristics of the cars. Drivers score points within their particular car’s class and all have the chance to claim the overall FIA trophy at the end of the season. In addition, all cars must run with a 40mm ground clearance, which effectively limits the downforce of the ground effect cars.
Motorsport’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), recognised this important championship nominating HFO as the only official FIA Historic Formula One Championship™ in 1994. Since the accolade was granted, the Championship has gone from strength to strength. Over 50 drivers registered to become members of the Drivers’ Association over the last 2 years and starting grids average 25 cars.
Historic Formula One
The Formula One series has its roots in the European Grand Prix Motor Racing of the 1920s and 1930s. The "formula" is a set of rules which all participants and cars must meet. Formula One was a new formula agreed after World War II in 1946, 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 1947. The first world championship race was held at Silverstone, United Kingdom in 1950. A championship for constructors followed in 1958. National championships existed in South Africa and the UK in the 1960s and 1970s. Non-championship Formula One races were held for many years but, due to the rising cost of competition, the last of these occurred in 1983.
The sport's title, Formula One, indicates that it is intended to be the most advanced and most competitive of the FIA's racing formula.
Juan Manuel Fangio's 1951 title-winning Alfa Romeo 159.
The return of racing (1950–1958)
The first Formula One World Championship was won by Italian Giuseppe Farina in his Alfa Romeo in 1950, barely defeating his Argentine teammate Juan Manuel Fangio. However Fangio won the title in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 & 1957 (His record of five World Championship titles stood for 45 years until German driver Michael Schumacher took his sixth title in 2003), 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. Fangio, however, is remembered for dominating Formula One's first decade and has long been considered the "grand master" of Formula One.
The period was dominated by teams run 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 158. They were front engined, with narrow treaded tyres and 1.5 litre supercharged or 4.5 litre naturally aspirated engines. The 1952 and 1953 world championships were run to Formula Two regulations, for smaller, less powerful cars, due to concerns over the number of Formula One cars available. When a new Formula One, for engines limited to 2.5 litres, was reinstated to the world championship in 1954, Mercedes-Benz introduced the advanced W196, which featured innovations such as desmodromic valves and fuel injection as well as enclosed streamlined bodywork. Mercedes won the drivers championship for two years, before withdrawing from all motorsport in the wake of the 1955 Le Mans disaster.
Stirling Moss at the Nürburgring in 1961.
The 'Garagistes' (1959–1980)
The first major technological development, Cooper's re-introduction of mid-engined cars (following Ferdinand Porsche's pioneering Auto Unions of the 1930s), which evolved from the company's successful Formula 3 designs, occurred in the 1950s. Australian Jack Brabham, World Champion in 1959, 1960 and 1966, soon proved the new design's superiority. By 1961, all regular competitors had switched to mid-engined cars.
The first British World Champion was Mike Hawthorn, who drove a Ferrari to the title in 1958. However, when Colin Chapman entered F1 as a chassis designer and later founder of Team Lotus, British racing green came to dominate the field for the next decade. Between Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, and Denny Hulme, British teams and Commonwealth drivers won twelve world championships between 1962 and 1973.
In 1962, 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. In 1968, Lotus painted 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 in the late 1960s. In the late 1970s, Lotus introduced ground effect aerodynamics that provided enormous downforce and greatly increased cornering speeds (though the concept had previously been used on Jim Hall's Chaparral 2J in 1970). So great were the aerodynamic forces pressing the cars to the track, (up to 5 times the car's weight), that 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 in the road surface.
Nigel Mansell's Williams FW10 from 1985.
The FW18 was one of the most successful cars of the era.Beginning in the 1970s, Bernie Ecclestone rearranged the management of Formula One's commercial rights; he is widely credited with transforming the sport into the billion-dollar business it is today. When Ecclestone bought the Brabham team in 1971 he gained a seat on the Formula One Constructors' Association and in 1978 became its President. 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. He offered Formula One to circuit owners as a package which they could take or leave. In return for the package almost all are required to surrender trackside advertising.
Damon Hill's Williams FW18 from 1996.
The formation of the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) in 1979 set off the FISA-FOCA war, during which FISA and its president Jean-Marie Balestre clashed repeatedly with FOCA over television revenues and technical regulations. The Guardian said of FOCA that Ecclestone and Max Mosley "used it to wage a guerrilla war with a very long-term aim in view." FOCA threatened to set up a rival series, boycotted a Grand Prix and FISA withdrew its sanction from races. The result was the 1981 Concorde Agreement, which guaranteed technical stability, as teams were to be given reasonable notice of new regulations. Although FISA asserted its right to the TV revenues, it handed the administration of those rights to FOCA.
Big business (1981–2000)
FISA imposed a ban on ground effect aerodynamics in 1983. By then, however, turbocharged engines, which Renault had pioneered in 1977, were producing over 700 bhp (520 kW) and were essential to be competitive. By 1986, a BMW turbocharged engine achieved a flash reading of 5.5 bar pressure, estimated to be over 1,300 bhp (970 kW) in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix. The following year power in race trim reached around 1,100 bhp (820 kW), with boost pressure limited to only 4.0 bar. These cars were the most powerful open-wheel circuit racing cars ever. To reduce engine power output and thus speeds, the FIA limited fuel tank capacity in 1984 and boost pressures in 1988 before banning turbocharged engines completely in 1989.
The development of electronic driver aids began in the 1980s. Lotus began to develop a system of active suspension which first appeared in 1982 on the F1 Lotus 91 and Lotus Esprit road car. By 1987, this system had been perfected and was driven to victory by Ayrton Senna in the Monaco Grand Prix that year. In the early 1990s, 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 1994. This led to cars that were previously dependent on electronic aids becoming very "twitchy" and difficult to drive (notably the Williams FW16), and many observers felt that the ban on driver aids was a ban in name only as they "have proved difficult to police effectively".
The teams signed a second Concorde Agreement in 1992 and a third in 1997, which expired on the last day of 2007.
On the track, the McLaren and Williams teams dominated the 1980s and 1990s, with Brabham also being competitive in the early part of the 1980s, winning two drivers' championships with Nelson Piquet. Powered by Porsche, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz, McLaren won sixteen championships (seven constructors', nine drivers') in that period, while Williams used engines from Ford, Honda, and Renault to also win sixteen titles (nine constructors', seven drivers'). The rivalry between racing legends Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost became F1's central focus in 1988, and continued until Prost retired at the end of 1993. Senna died at the 1994 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 has died on the track at the wheel of a Formula One car since, though two track marshals have lost their lives, one at the 2000 Italian Grand Prix, and the other at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.
Since the deaths of Ayrton Senna, Roland Ratzenberger and Gilles Villeneuve, the FIA has used safety as a reason to impose rule changes which otherwise, under the Concorde Agreement, would have had to be agreed upon by all the teams - most notably the changes introduced for 1998. 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 would be four grooves, on the front and rear - although initially three on the front tyres in the first year - that ran through the entire circumference of the tyre. The objective was to reduce cornering speeds and to produce racing similar to rain 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.
Results have been mixed as the lack of mechanical grip has resulted in the more ingenious designers clawing back the deficit with aerodynamic grip - pushing more force onto the tyres through wings, aerodynamic devices etc - which in turn has resulted in less overtaking as these devices tend to make the wake behind the car 'dirty' (turbulent) preventing other cars from following closely, due to their dependence on 'clean' air to make the car stick to the track. The grooved tyres also had the unfortunate side effect of initially being of a harder compound, to be able to hold the groove tread blocks, which resulted in spectacular accidents in times of aerodynamic grip failure (e.g., rear wing failures), as the harder compound could not grip the track as well.
Drivers from McLaren, Williams, Renault (formerly Benetton) and Ferrari, dubbed the "Big Four", have won every World Championship from 1984 to the present day. Due to the technological advances of the 1990s, the cost of competing in Formula One rose dramatically. This increased financial burden, combined with four teams' dominance (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. Financial troubles forced several teams to withdraw. Since 1990, twenty-eight teams have pulled out of Formula One. This has prompted former Jordan owner Eddie Jordan to say that the days of competitive privateers are over.
The Manufacturers' Return (2000–2007)
Michael Schumacher won five consecutive titles with Ferrari.Michael Schumacher and Ferrari won an unprecedented five consecutive drivers’ championships and six consecutive constructors’ championships between 1999 and 2004. Schumacher set many new records, including those for Grand Prix wins (91), wins in a season (13 of 18), and most drivers' championships (7). Schumacher's championship streak ended on September 25, 2005 when Renault driver Fernando Alonso became Formula One’s youngest champion at that time. In 2006, Renault and Alonso won both titles again. Schumacher retired at the end of 2006 after sixteen years in Formula One.
During this period the championship rules were frequently changed by the FIA with the intention of improving the on-track action and cutting costs. Team orders, legal since the championship started in 1950, were banned in 2002 after several incidents in which teams openly manipulated race results, generating negative publicity, most famously by Ferrari at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix. 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 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis seven out of ten teams did not race when their Michelin tyres were deemed unsafe for use. During 2006, Max Mosley outlined a ‘green’ future for Formula One, in which efficient use of energy would become an important factor. And the tyre war ended, as Bridgestone became the sole tyre supplier to Formula One for the 2007 season.
Since 1983, 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 2000, 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 1985. By 2006, 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 is part-owned by Mercedes Benz. Through the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association (GPMA) they negotiated a larger share of Formula One’s commercial profit and a greater say in the running of the sport.
Modern Formula One
Formula One, abbreviated to F1, is the highest tier of FIA-sanctioned, graduated open-wheel Formula racing and is regulated by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The "formula" in the name refers to a set of rules to which all participants and cars must conform. 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 most famous of which is the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. The results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for drivers and one for constructors.
Formula One cars race at high speeds, up to 360 km/h (220 mph) with the engine revving up to 19,000 RPM. The cars are capable of pulling 5g in some corners. The performance of the cars is highly dependent on electronics, aerodynamics, suspension and tyres. The engine and transmission of a modern Formula One car are some of the most highly stressed pieces of machinery on the planet. The formula has seen many evolutions and changes through the history of the sport.
Europe is Formula One's traditional centre; all of the teams are based there and around half the races take place there. In particular the United Kingdom has produced the most Drivers' Champions (13), and the vast majority of Constructors' Champions (32). However, the sport's scope has expanded significantly in recent years and Grands Prix are held all over the world. Events in Europe and the Americas have been dropped in favour of races in Bahrain, China, Malaysia and Turkey, with Singapore having held the first night race in 2008 and India being added to the schedule starting in 2011. Of the eighteen races in 2008, nine are outside Europe.
Formula One is a massive television event, with millions of people watching each race worldwide. As the world's most expensive sport, its economic effect is significant, and its financial and political battles are widely observed. On average about 55 million people all over the world watch Formula One races live. 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. Several teams have gone bankrupt or been bought out by other companies since 2000. The most recent example of this was the Honda team Super Aguri's sister team . Super Aguri pulled out after lack of sponsorship and inability to find a buyer. Honda is on the borderline. The car manufacture pulled out after a big loss in car buyers. Honda are now looking for a buyer and apparently have 3 potential buyers. The sport is regulated by the FIA. Formula One's commercial rights are vested in the Formula One Group.
Historic Formula One
- Europe & South America
Historic Grand Prix