In 1946, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) standardised the rules for Grand Prix racing, which led to the World Championship for drivers.
The first race was held on 13th May 1950 at Silverstone and was won by “Nino” Giuseppe Farina in an Alfa Romeo 158. Farina also won the inaugural Driver’s Championship and in 1958, Vanwall became the first winners of the Constructor’s Championship.
Italian makes of car, together with Mercedes-Benz, dominated the earliest races, before the rear-engine revolution took over and Cooper, Lotus and Brabham led the way in the 1960’s. In the long history of Formula One, many companies have come and gone with teams founded by Frank Williams and New Zealander Bruce McLaren amongst the few to remain. But the only team to have featured in every year of Grand Prix racing is Ferrari, which Enzo Ferrari founded just after WW II. To date, the Constructor’s Championship has been won by Ferrari a record 16 times.
The most successful drivers in Formula One are Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher who have seven Driver’s Championships each, followed by Juan Manuel Fangio with five and Alain Prost & Sebastien Vettel with four championships apiece. The UK remains the most successful nation with ten different drivers becoming World Champion.
From its first season in 1950 when there were only six Grand Prix – all held in Europe – Formula One has grown through the decades to become a truly worldwide sport. Today, over twenty races are held around the globe each year, with new circuits regularly being added to the racing calendar.