New Delhi: Formula One has generated heat and thrill across the globe and now it’s time for Indian speed lovers to witness ‘mean machines’ and some racing legends on homeland. Those who love being mesmerised by the sound of the Formula One car zooming past at a speed of over 300 km/hr would soon witness the burning rubber on the newly laid formula one track at Greater Noida.

With India all set to have its first look at F1 GP on October 30; let’s have a look at the history of the sport and the mean machines over the last few decades.

Formula One is one of the most elegant car racing in the world of motor sports. A common man can’t even imagine the thrill of sitting inside the cockpit of a F1 car.

Formula One has its roots from the European Grand Prix motor racing during the 1920s and 1930s era.

During this period Formula one was also called as Formula A. Plans for a Formula One drivers' championship were discussed but were shelved with the onset of World War II.

Earlier the formula was largely based on pre-war regulations defined by engine capacity. The regulation expected to bring a new balance between supercharged and normally aspirated cars.

The foundation of Formula One Motor Sport began in 1946 with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's (FIA's) standardisation of rules and it was defined as the premier single seater racing category in worldwide motorsport in the same year by the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) of the FIA.

The World Drivers' Championship in F1 followed in 1950 and ‘Formula One’ was also made the official name by FIA.

Earlier 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. National championships existed in South Africa and the United Kingdom in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the first modern Formula One race was held on 13th May, 1950 at Silverstone in England, Giuseppe Farina with his Alfa Romeo158 defeated legendary Argentinean Juan Manuel Fangio, his nearest rival.

Only seven of the twenty or so Formula One races that season counted towards the Championship title.

However, it was Juan Manuel Fangio, who dominated racing scene in the decade. Fangio won the title in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957. He is regarded the Grand Master of Formula One.

There were around 20 races held from late Spring to early Autumn (Fall) in Europe. Most Formula One cars came from Italy, particularly Alfa Romeo. Races saw pre-war heroes like Achille Varzi, Jean-Pierre Wimille and Tazio Nuvolari end their careers, while drivers like Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio rose to the front.

Giuseppe ("Nino") Farina of Italy won the inaugural title and the key driver in 1950s was Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina who won the drivers' championship in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957 with five different car manufacturers.

Out of the 20 manufacturers that competed in 1950, most were soon forced out due to the rising cost in the years to come. Only Ferrari have competed since then. The death of the F1 drivers was also a reason for the teams to quit F1 as 13 drivers were killed in F1 cars in the first decade.

In 1958 races were shortened from around 500 km/300miles to 300 km/200 miles and cars had to use Avgas instead of various fuel mixtures using methanol as the primary component.

In the late 1950s Cooper introduced a rear-engined car and by 1961 all manufacturers were running them. As an added incentive for the teams, a constructors' championship was introduced in 1958.

Between 1962 and 1973 British and Commonwealth drivers and teams won nine drivers' championships and ten constructors' titles. The iconic British Racing Green Lotus used a revolutionary aluminum-sheet monocoque chassis instead of traditional space-frame design and in 1968 the team was the first to carry advertising on their cars.

With the revolutionary aluminum-sheet monocoque chassis in Green Lotus their driver Jim Clark won title in 1963 and 1965.

In 1966 Formula One changed the engine rules once again allowing return of power. Engines of 3.0 litre or 1.5 litre supercharged capacity were used. 1966 was a transitional year for most teams, however, the year did see the first use of a technology which would later go on to revolutionise the motor sport, the use of composite materials.

By the early 1970s the days of private entries were all over due to the rocketing costs of racing. Not only that, with the advent of turbocharged cars, speeds and power also raced ahead.

The 1970s saw the evolution of Formula One as a big commercial success. Bernie Ecclestone is credited with transforming the sport into the billion dollar business. Ground effect aerodynamics was also introduced. The technological innovation greatly increased cornering speeds.
 
In 1979 FISA (Fe'de'ration Internationale du Sport Automobile) was formed and almost immediately clashed with FOCA over revenues and regulations. Matters deteriorated to the extent FOCA boycotted a race and threatened a breakaway. In return FISA removed its sanction from races. By 1983, the dispute between FISA and FOCA had been resolved and although FOCA emerged with the stronger hand.

1985 saw the start of a period of dominance by McLaren in which they won the drivers' title in seven out of eight years with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. The team's peak came in 1988 when they won 15 of the 16 races but for the following season turbos were banned, and the relationship between the two drivers deteriorated rapidly.

In the 1980s electronic drivers aids began to emerge, using which again Lotus were at the top and by the early 1990s semi-automatic gearboxes and traction control were widely used by teams.

McLaren and Williams continued to rule the roost in the 1990s. In all, McLaren won 16 championships seven constructors' and  nine drivers' in that period, while Williams matched them with 16 titles of their own nine constructors' and seven drivers'.

The rivalry between Prost and Senna ended in 1993 with Prost's retirement. Then in 1994 Senna died at Imola. His death was a watershed, in that it led to considerable increases in safety standards - no driver has died in a F1 car since then. The FIA introduced measures to slow the cars and improve their safety.

But many continued to argue that the F1 race was more about the car technicians and designers than drivers, and like many other sports, a few teams dominated. McLaren, Williams, Renault (formerly Benetton) and Ferrari won every World Championship from 1984 until 2008.

The soaring costs of Formula One widened the chasm between the big four and the smaller independents. Between 1990 and 2008 28 teams came and went, few making more than an ephemeral mark.

The most dominant figures during this time were Michael Schumacher and Ferrari, who won an unprecedented five consecutive drivers' championships and six consecutive constructors' championships between 1999 and 2004.

Renault driver Fernando Alonso ended Schumacher's championship streak in September 2005.

From 2000 manufacturer-owned teams returned with success – McLaren, Renault, BMW, Toyota, Honda and Ferrari dominated the championship, and 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. The global expansion of Formula One and popularity continued with new races in the far and Middle East.

Schumacher's retirement in 2006 coincided with the sport again becoming more competitive on the track.

2009 saw the introduction of many new rules and regulations (including an adjustable front wing, KERS and disproportionate wing sizes) to encourage overtaking. Due to the recession, many more rule changes were brought in to reduce the cost of Formula One.

2010 saw more changes in the way of rules and regulations. KERS were banned, but new innovative features such as F-Ducts and double diffusers were introduced. An allocated eight engines, per driver, for the whole season was also introduced as part of more cost cutting methods.

The biggest change in the points scoring system in F1 history happened between 2009 & 2010. The 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 point system for the top eight finishers (which had been running since 2003), was replaced with 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 for the top 10 across the line.

(Tarun Sharda/JPN)