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Formula Car Racing: The Best Drivers, Teams, and Tracks of All Time


Formula racing (known as open-wheel racing in North America) is any of several forms of open-wheeled single-seater motorsport. The origin of the term lies in the nomenclature that was adopted by the FIA for all of its post-World War II single-seater regulations, or formulae. The best known of these formulae are Formula One, Formula E, Formula Two, Formula Three, regional Formula Three and Formula Four. Common usage of "formula racing" encompasses other single-seater series, including the IndyCar Series and the Super Formula Championship.




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Categories such as Formula Three and Formula Two are described as feeder formulae, which refers to their position below top-level series like Formula One on their respective career ladders of single-seater motor racing. There are two primary forms of racing formula: the open formula that allows a choice of chassis or engines and the control or "spec" formula that relies on a single supplier for chassis and engines. Formula Three is an example of an open formula, while Formula BMW is a control formula. There are also some exceptions on these two forms like Formula Ford where there is an open chassis formula but a restricted single brand engine formula.


In the process of reviving Grand Prix racing after the end of World War II, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's Commission Sportive Internationale was responsible for defining the standardised regulations of Formula One (F1) in 1946. The first race to be run to the early Formula One regulations was a non-championship Grand Prix in Turin in September 1946. The first officially recognised Formula One season was held in 1947 and the World Championship for Drivers was inaugurated in 1950. This was the first example of formula racing.[citation needed]


The IndyCar Series is the premier level of formula racing in North America. The sport, in general, traces its roots as far back as 1905. The current series, founded by then-Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George, began in 1996 as the "Indy Racing League" (IRL). In 2008, the series merged with the rival Champ Car World Series, formerly known as CART, to form the IndyCar Series. A typical IndyCar season contains races on a mixture of natural terrain road courses, temporary street circuits, short track ovals, and larger, high-speed ovals (also known as Superspeedways); including the historic Indianapolis 500.


The USF2000 Championship formally known as U.S. F2000 National Championship is an American variation of the Formula Ford. The series was initially founded by Dan Andersen and Mike Foschi in 1990 and regularly fielded over 60 entries per race. In 2001, the series was sold to Jon Baytos who introduced a number of controversial rule changes that brought the series out of alignment with similar SCCA classes, which led to a reduction in participation and the end of the series in 2006. In 2010, the series returned under the leadership of Andersen with the intent to return F2000 to its status as a feeder formula for higher open wheel racing classes in the United States.


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The Formula 3000 was created by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile in 1985 to become the final step for drivers before entering Formula One. Formula Two had become too expensive and was dominated by works-run cars with factory engines. Formula 3000 offered quicker, cheaper, more open racing. The series began as an open formula, but in 1986 tyres were standardized, followed by engines and chassis in 1996. The series ran until 2004 and was replaced in 2005 by the GP2 Series.


A1 Grand Prix (A1GP) was unique in its field in that competitors solely represented their nation as opposed to themselves or a team, the usual format in most formula racing series. As such, it was often promoted as the "World Cup of Motorsport". Also, the series attracted equal numbers of (former or future) Formula One drivers and IndyCar Series drivers. The concept was founded by Sheikh Al Maktoum of Dubai in 2004, but sold to the FIA in 2005. The races were held in the traditional Formula One off-season, the northern hemisphere winter. Between 2005 and 2009 29 countries from five continents participated.


Formula One (more commonly known as Formula 1 or F1) is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The FIA Formula One World Championship has been one of the premier forms of racing around the world since its inaugural season in 1950. The word formula in the name refers to the set of rules to which all participants' cars must conform.[1] A Formula One season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix. Grands Prix take place in multiple countries and continents around the world on either purpose-built circuits or closed public roads.


A points system is used at Grands Prix to determine two annual World Championships: one for the drivers, and one for the constructors (the teams). Each driver must hold a valid Super Licence, the highest class of racing licence issued by the FIA,[2] and the races must be held on tracks graded "1", the highest grade-rating issued by the FIA for tracks.[2]


Formula One cars are the fastest regulated road-course racing cars in the world, owing to very high cornering speeds achieved through generating large amounts of aerodynamic downforce. Much of this downforce is generated by front and rear wings, which have the side effect of causing severe turbulence behind each car. The turbulence reduces the downforce generated by the cars following directly behind, making it hard to overtake. Major changes made to the cars for the 2022 season has seen greater use of ground effect aerodynamics and modified wings to reduce the turbulence behind the cars, with the goal of making overtaking easier.[3] The cars are dependent on electronics, aerodynamics, suspension and tyres. Traction control, launch control, and automatic shifting, plus other electronic driving aids, were first banned in 1994. They were briefly reintroduced in 2001, and have more recently been banned since 2004 and 2008, respectively.[4]


Formula One originated from the European Motor Racing Championships of the 1920s and 1930s. The formula consists of a set of rules that all participants' cars must follow. Formula One was a new formula agreed upon during 1946 with the first non-championship races taking place during that year. The first Formula One Grand Prix was the 1946 Turin Grand Prix. A number of Grand Prix racing organisations had laid out rules for a motor racing world championship before World War II, but due to the suspension of racing during the conflict, the World Drivers' Championship did not become formalised until 1947.


This era featured teams managed by road-car manufacturers, such as: Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati. The first seasons featured pre-war cars like Alfa's 158. They were front-engined, with narrow tyres and 1.5-litre supercharged or 4.5-litre naturally aspirated engines. The 1952 and 1953 seasons were run to Formula Two regulations, for smaller, less powerful cars, due to concerns over the lack of Formula One cars available.[15][16] When a new Formula One formula for engines limited to 2.5 litres was reinstated to the world championship for 1954, Mercedes-Benz introduced their W196. The W196 featured things never seen on Formula One cars before, such as: desmodromic valves, fuel injection and enclosed streamlined bodywork. Mercedes drivers won the championship for the next two years, before the team withdrew from all motorsport competitions due to the 1955 Le Mans disaster.[17]


FISA imposed a ban on ground-effect aerodynamics during 1983.[27] By then, however, turbocharged engines, which Renault had pioneered in 1977, were producing over 520 kW (700 bhp) and were essential to be competitive. By 1986, a BMW turbocharged engine achieved a flash reading of 5.5 bar (80 psi) pressure, estimated[who?] to be over 970 kW (1,300 bhp) in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix. The next year, power in race trim reached around 820 kW (1,100 bhp), with boost pressure limited to only 4.0 bar.[28] 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.[29]


In 2008 and 2009, Honda, BMW, and Toyota all withdrew from Formula One racing within the space of a year, blaming the economic recession. This resulted in the end of manufacturer dominance within the sport. The Honda F1 team went through a management buyout to become Brawn GP with Ross Brawn and Nick Fry running and owning the majority of the organisation. Brawn GP laid off hundreds of employees, but eventually won the year's world championships. BMW F1 was bought out by the original founder of the team, Peter Sauber. The Lotus F1 Team[40] were another, formerly manufacturer-owned team that reverted to "privateer" ownership, together with the buy-out of the Renault team by Genii Capital investors. A link with their previous owners still survived, however, with their car continuing to be powered by a Renault engine until 2014.


In 2022, a major rule and car design change was announced by the F1 governing body, intended to promote closer racing through the use of ground effects, new aerodynamics, larger wheels with low-profile tires, and redesigned nose and wing regulations.[69][70] The 2022 Constructors' and Drivers' Championships were won by Red Bull and Verstappen, respectively.[71][72]


Once all the cars have formed on the grid, after the medical car positions itself behind the pack, a light system above the track indicates the start of the race: five red lights are illuminated at intervals of one second; they are all then extinguished simultaneously after an unspecified time (typically less than 3 seconds) to signal the start of the race. The start procedure may be abandoned if a driver stalls on the grid or on the track in an unsafe position, signalled by raising their arm. If this happens, the procedure restarts: a new formation lap begins with the offending car removed from the grid. The race may also be restarted in the event of a serious accident or dangerous conditions, with the original start voided. The race may be started from behind the Safety Car if race control feels a racing start would be excessively dangerous, such as extremely heavy rainfall. As of the 2019 season, there will always be a standing restart. If due to heavy rainfall a start behind the safety car is necessary, then after the track has dried sufficiently, drivers will form up for a standing start. There is no formation lap when races start behind the Safety Car.[84]


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