Formula One, abbreviated to F1, is the highest class of open wheeled auto racing defined by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), motor sport’s world governing body. 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 results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for drivers and one for constructors.
The cars race at high speeds being able to travel at up to 360 km/h (225 mph), and are capable of pulling up to 5g in some corners. 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.
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 number of Drivers’ Champions (12), and the vast majority of Constructors’ Champions (32). However, its scope has expanded significantly in recent years and Grands Prix are now held all over the world. Events in Europe and the Americas have been dropped in favour of new ones in Bahrain, China, Malaysia and Turkey, with Singapore scheduled to hold the first night race in 2008 and India being added to the schedule starting in 2010. Of the eighteen races in 2008, nine are outside Europe.
It is a massive television event, with millions of people watching each race in two hundred countries. 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.