Formula 1, also known simply as F1, is the apex of modern motor racing, and the top drivers in F1 are world-renowned figures that can earn millions of pounds every year. What’s perhaps less well known is just how strong the sport’s links with Britain are. A number of the most successful F1 teams have bases and factories in the UK, and so even when British drivers aren’t doing too well, you can be sure that there is still a strong British element in many teams’ successes.
Possibly the most famous F1 team is Ferrari, whose famous prancing horse badge has seen some of the most famous racing drivers in history competing in the famous red cars. Other famous teams currently involved in F1 include McLaren, Williams and Renault. From Fangio and Lauda to Prost and Senna, F1 champions are major sporting figures. The most successful driver in F1 history is Michael Schumacher, having won 91 races in his career prior to retirement in 2006.
Although its roots are in Europe, modern F1 is a global sport. There are now 18 Grand Prix races over the course of a season, held all over the planet. The F1 season traditionally opens with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, and over the course of nine months visits North and South America, Asia and the Middle East, as well as its traditional home in Europe, before finishing at the famous Interlagos circuit in Brazil.
As diverse as the venues for F1 races are, each race weekend follows a similar pattern. Practice sessions are held on the Thursday and Friday before each race, and qualifying takes place on the Saturday afternoon. There have been several changes in the format of qualifying in recent years as organisers look to find the best method of determining places on the starting grid. Securing first place in qualifying, or ‘pole position’ as it is known, is an honour in itself and one of which F1 drivers are fiercely proud.
Races themselves are held on Sunday afternoons and attract large and excited crowds, both at the circuits themselves and also on television. Factors such as the design of cars, efficiency and reliability of engines, tyre wear and weather conditions all have a role to play in F1 races, but there is still one crucial ‘X-factor’ needed and that’s the driver himself.
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