Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship is the highest class of single-seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). Formula One is often considered the pinnacle of automobile racing. The cars are extremely fast with speeds topping 320 kph, although it is their cornering and braking performance that sets Formula 1 apart as the highest class of car racing. The Formula One World Championship is held every year on racing tracks around the globe. There are effectively two championships being contested - the World Drivers Championship is given to the winning driver, but the teams also compete in the Manufacturer's Championship. The 2014 Driver's World Champion is British racer Lewis Hamilton, while the Constructor's Champions are the German team known as the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
The teams for the 2013 season were;
- Red Bull Racing, which bought the Jaguar team in 2005, who in turn bought out the Stewart team. The team's current drivers are Mark Webber (Australia) and Sebastien Vettel (Germany). The team uses Renault engines, and, like Toro Rosso, are sponsored by Red Bull.
- Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was founded in 1966. They are the third most successful team in the sport's history, having won the constructors' title 8 times. The team was formed by the New Zealander Bruce Mclaren. The current drivers are Sergio Perez and Jenson Button. Lewis Hamilton left McLaren at the end of the 2012 Formula One season and signed on to the Mercedes team for three seasons.
- Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, who first competed in the second-ever Formula One race at Monaco in 1950, are the most famous and most successful team in the history of Formula One, and present constructors' champions. They have won the constructors' championship 16 times, mostly because of the dominance of Michael Schumacher, who holds the most championship wins in the sport's history. The team uses Ferrari engines and are sponsored by the Marlboro tobacco company. The current drivers are Fernando Alonso and Filipe Massa
- Mercedes F1 Team, which replaced the Honda team in 2009 and then became the Petronas Mercedes AMG Racing in 2010. Their current drivers are Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
- Lotus F1 Originally named Toleman and then became Benetton. Under the leadership of Flavio Briatore, Benetton bought out Renault and became Lucky 7 Renault F1. However, a tobacco sponsorship ban forced the team to change its name under new sponsorship from ING to ING Renault F1. Fernando Alonso won two championships with the team. Flavio Briatore, along with Pat Symmonds and Nelson Piquet Jr. were convicted of race fixing, which led to them being banned from the sport for for 5 years. The team was then bought out by GenII Capital and recieved sponsorship from Lotus. It later was involved in a legal battle with Caterham (who previously held the rights to the Lotus brand) over who had right to use the name. The current drivers are Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean and they use Renault engines. The team is named after Group Lotus the British manufacturer of sports cars. Group Lotus had been active in Formula One racing between the years of 1958 to 1994.
- Force India F1 Team, who replaced the Spyker team in 2008, scored their first points at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. The team's present drivers are Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta. The team uses Mercedes engines and are sponsored by Indian airline Kingfisher and Indian Finance giant Sahara.
- Scuderia Toro Rosso, who replaced the Minardi team in 2006, are a "farm" team for Red Bull Racing, but managed to beat their parent team in 2008. The team's drivers are Jean-Eric Vergne (France) and Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) who was in the HRT for 10 races last year. The drivers replaced Sebastion Buemi and Jaime Alguesari. The team uses Ferrari engines and are sponsored by beverage company Red Bull.
- Williams, founded in 1977, are the second most successful team in F1's history, having won the constructors' title 9 times. However, they have not won the title since 1997. The team is heavily reliant on the money from PVDSA, the state oil company of socialist Venezuela. The team's present drivers are Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) and Valtteri Bottas (Finland). The team uses Renault engines and are sponsored by various other Venezuelan state owned companies.
- Air Asia Caterham Team Originally Malaysia F1 team and owned by businessman Tony Fernandes, who also owns leading English football club QPR. The team's name was changed to LotusF1 before their first season in 2010, but Renault, who were sponsored by Lotus challenged this in court but lost. Meanwhile, Tony Fernandes bought out the car manufacturer Caterham and promptly renamed his team Caterham. The Malaysian government, who owns Proton, which in turn owns Lotus Cars were also rumoured to have let Fernandes buy Air Malaysia in return for him dropping the legal action against Lotus. Their drivers are currently Giedo Van der Garde and Charles Pic.
- Marussia F1 A Russian team owned by car manufacturer Marussia, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton currently race for them. They were originally Manor F1 and then became Virgin F1.
Formula One racing has been involved in several controversies. Texas gave $300 million dollars to Bernie Eccelstone to host the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas at the Circuit of the Americas over the next 10 years.
The state of New Jersey also gave Ecclestone $300 million so it can host the New Jersey Grand Prix at West New York over the next 10 years, starting in 2013. There have been a number of reports that the 2013 American Grand Prix will not happen due to lack of payment of race fees to Bernie Eccelstone and lack of preparation. However New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said that all is on track and that the required fees have been paid, however this conflicts with what is widely being reported in the European Press.
Another controversy was the incident involving the former head of the FIA, Max Mosley. The now defunct liberal gossip newspaper, News of the World, published a story in which they accused Mosley of organizing and participating in a number of immoral and Nazi-themed events. These accusations caused a lot of concern within certain national sporting bodies and greatly damaged the road safety campaign that was being organised to save lives in developing countries as well as driving a number of key potential sponsors away from the sport. Mosley sued the newspaper for breach of confidentiality regarding private matters, and was awarded 60,000 pounds in the case. The judge stated, "I see no genuine basis at all for the suggestion that the participants mocked the victims of the Holocaust. ... There was bondage, beating and domination which seem to be typical of S&M behaviour."
Drivers' route to F1
Almost all Formula One drivers start racing Karts in club and sub-national classes between the ages of 5 and their early teens. If they show some talent and have the funding they then progress to the national and international competitions. They then progress to either Formula Renault, Formula Ford or a National Formula 3 class if they have sufficient funding and talent. Drivers then progress to Formula 3 or GP3 which costs in the region of half a million euros per season. After this the drivers go into either World Series by Renault or GP2, which can cost up to 3 million euros a season. Talented drivers also act as teams third and test drivers while they compete in these series; drivers who can bring large amounts of sponsorship money to the F1 teams are also given these roles even though they may be lacking in talent. Drivers can also get into F1 through routes such as Sports cars and touring cars (such as V8 Supercars) however this route is very uncommon now.
There are other, less common routes to a F1 race seat. The last driver to come to formula one via this route was Paul di Resta who won the DTM title for Mercedes and was then given a race seat in the Mercedes-powered Force India. Sebastian Bourdais came to Formula 1 through IndyCar, however he failed to compete and was sacked by Toro Rosso.
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