Despite often going through a rocky time, for one reason or another, Formula 1 is the pinnacle of Motorsport and will probably stay that way for the rest of our lives. Since 1950, the sport has wowed audiences worldwide and is watched by hundreds of thousands of fans trackside each year, as well as millions globally in front of their TVs.
Formula 1 features the fastest race cars in the world, and some of the best driving talent you can ever see on display, providing us with thrills and spills aplenty over the years we've watched it.
Such a long and varied history no doubt throws up a huge array of stats, figures, and historical gems. So many in fact, that it's probably hard for fans to be able to keep track of them all. That's certainly the case, as so much has gone on in the sport's history that it's incredibly difficult to know and memorize everything that's happened.
So what we have here is a list of 20 things that F1 fans may not know about the sport that they follow. Some are quite obscure, some are perhaps small things that can easily go unnoticed by a significant number of fans. I’m sure though that it will make for some compelling reading to all Formula 1 fans.
In 2016, Formula 1 changed the qualifying format quite dramatically. Since 2006, the basic format had been three sessions, Q1 through ‘3, and several cars were eliminated in each session before the top ten shootout in Q3. The knockout format would see effectively a countdown come on screen, and drivers would have to set a lap time that made them safe before the countdown hit zero. Ultimately, it backfired massively. It lasted for the first two races of 2016, and saw empty tracks whilst the sessions had 5 minutes plus left on the clock. F1 now still runs the 2006 format, which should probably never be tampered with.
This is something a staggering amount of people never seemed to know, despite this logo being used by Formula 1 for a long time. Most assumed the weird shape next to the ‘F’ was the ‘1’ in the F1 logo, but if you look inbetween the two you will see there is the outline of a 1 there. Staggeringly, a lot of fans never seemed to know this, which perhaps shows that it was a rubbish logo and needed changing. F1, to a fair amount of uproar, changed the logo for 2018. The logo has grown on everybody and certainly feels slick and modern, plus its marketable. And you can actually see the 1.
For a long time now, the IndyCar series jewel in its crown, the Indy 500, has clashed with the Formula 1 crown jewel, the Monaco Grand Prix. Once upon a time, however, the Indy 500 was actually a race on the Formula 1 calendar. It remained it’s own thing in America as well, but Formula 1’s drivers would join the Indy drivers just for this race. The race featured on the F1 calendar in the '50s and ‘60s, but not every F1 driver warmed to the idea of it being on the calendar. It was soon dropped, although drivers like Jim Clark and Graham Hill still came to take on the challenge of the ‘500.
In 1978, Brabham wanted to try something radical in order to gain an advantage over the rest of the grid. The BT46 wasn’t a bad car, but it needed a boost to make it the best on the field. Thus, the legendary fan car, BT46B, was born. This large fan on the back effectively sucked the car to the ground and gave it huge amounts of downforce. Niki Lauda raced it once and won that year's Swedish Grand Prix. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the car produced uproar from the other times. Lauda had won the race by over half a minute. It was subsequently banned, which is just as well. Lauda could have walked to many more wins with the fan car.
2014 saw one of the most unpopular decisions that the sport has perhaps ever seen come into play, and that was the addition of double points at the end of the 2014 season. The idea of the race, held at Abu Dhabi, was to lengthen the championship and allow more scenarios to play out. Except everyone could see through the gimmick that it was. Indeed, it had such an effect, that Lewis Hamilton would have felt much more comfortable as the championship leader in that race with the regular points, than with double points. Thankfully, double points has not been seen since.
Mercedes are currently on a huge roll within the sport. They've won every constructors' title since 2014, and every drivers' title too, which has been shared between four for Lewis Hamilton and one for Nico Rosberg. If they achieve the double this year, they will break Ferrari’s record of five consecutive drivers' and constructors' doubles that stretches back to 2000. They will still need to win another constructors' to beat Ferrari’s record of six straight ones, as they won the constructors' in 1999. But things look tougher than ever for Mercedes this year. Ferrari look to have the best car, based on pre-season testing, and Red Bull-Honda are looking quite close as well.
It may seem crazy now, but Williams actually holds the record for most points scored in a single race. Of course, for years, the maximum has always been 43, for 1-2 finish for a team. But the double points finale of 2014 changed that. Lewis Hamilton won that race, but Nico Rosberg failed to score thanks to technical issues, so Williams was able to finish second and third. This amounted to a colossal 66 points scored for Williams, boosting them to 320 for the season. With double points no doubt never to return, it’s hard to see that record ever being broken. So well done Williams!
This isn’t the most unusual of facts as a few countries have done so, but Britain, who's not looking to have a race after 2019, actually hosted two races. The European Grand Prix was held at Brands Hatch for a while in the 1980s, while the British Grand Prix itself was held at Silverstone, as it is today. At least that's the way it is now. Germany also had two races a year for a period, with the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim and the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring GP circuit. The same was similar to Spain until 2012, with Barcelona’s circuit being the usual Spanish GP home and Valencia hosting the European GP.
It’s rare that a team is so dominant that they can perhaps win nearly every race a year. The most recent examples of this have been Mercedes, who as recently as 2016 won all that year's races bar two, which went to Red Bull. McLaren is closest though, with 15 out of 16 wins going there way in 1988. Only a collision and mechanical failure at that years Italian Grand Prix handed one of those wins to Ferrari. No team though has ever been able to win every single race in a season, and quite honestly, it probably will never happen.
It might seem odd but the number "0" has been used in Formula 1, albeit rather sparingly. For whatever reason, F1 has never really allowed it to be a thing. Indeed, the current numbers that a driver can pick go from 2 to 99, with the 1 being reserved for the reigning world champion. The last time we saw the number 0 was on Damon Hill’s Williams in 1994. Since then, we have never gone lower than 1 on the cars, although it would perhaps be nice to see someone have the number 0 again one day. It is just a number, but it's certainly different.
Silverstone’s race is under threat from 2020 onwards, with the circuit's owners activating a break clause that means the 2019 race could be the last at the circuit. Which is a shame, because it has been a fixture on the calendar pretty much every year since 1950, when it hosted the first ever official Formula 1 Grand Prix. It’s hard to imagine that one day Silverstone may well not be on the calendar anymore. The hope is a solution can be found, but it has been very quiet on that front for a long time now.
It’s not uncommon for the sons of a driver, perhaps even a world champion, to race in Formula 1. But only twice have those sons achieved world champion status like there fathers. Graham Hill, of course, won three world titles, whilst his son Damon Hill secured his own in 1996. Keke Rosberg took his world title in 1982, and after a gruelling battle with Lewis Hamilton in 2016, son Nico Rosberg took his first, and of course, only, world title before he announced he would retire from the sport, at the very top.
The Minardi team were incredibly popular before they vanished from F1 in 2005. This bunch of perennial backmarkers gained an almost cult-like following, with the team attracting a staggering amount of support from fans worldwide. But they are still in the sport…in a way. The team never technically folded; instead, it was actually sold to Red Bull. What did it become? It became Toro Rosso. The team is still very much based in Italy, and a lot of the people working at it have been there since the Minardi days. The spirit of Minardi still very much lives on through Toro Rosso, which is good to see.
This might come as a surprise to many, seeing as Monza is the home of the Italian Grand Prix. But it has never really been the true home of Ferrari. According to who, you ask? Well that would be a certain Enzo Ferrari. Mr Ferrari himself always said that Ferrari’s rightful home was Imola and that this track should always be on the calendar. Imola is an incredible circuit steeped in history, speed, and tragedy. It hasn't seen a race though since 2006, and there are many throughout the world that would adore seeing this circuit return. Perhaps one day, it shall.
Something like this doesn’t happen very often, and it hasn't happened for a long time either. The Schumacher brothers of Ralf and Michael raced together for a good while, but when Ralf got into a competitive Williams car, the prospect of the two finishing 1-2 in a race very much became a likely possibility. And indeed it did happen. They took their first 1-2 finish together in the 2001 Canadian Grand Prix, which was won by Ralf. They took five 1-2’s together, the final being the 2004 Japanese States Grand Prix, which was lead by Michael this time. It's not likely we will see something like that for many years.
This is one reason many are rather disgruntled with how Formula 1 deals with its payments to teams, especially those teams that struggle. Ferrari will naturally earn a lot of money, they are more often than not rather successful, but the team has for many years received around $100m for just turning up. No really, they receive historical bonuses just for being on the grid for so long. Every time they are threatened with this being taken away from them, they usually issue some form of quit threat or warn F1 of its future. With a cost cap being mooted though for 2021, it may happen, and Ferrari might simply have to deal with it.
Williams are one of the most successful teams in the sport's history, but as we all know, they have not had the best run in recent years. They won a race in 2012 and scored back to back third place finishes in 2014 and ’15. Heck, in the former year they even took a front row lockout in Austria. However, they haven't won a world title since 1997 when the team beat Ferrari and Jaques Villeneuve beat Michael Schumacher to that year's crowns. Since then, it has been a rather downward trajectory for the team, which still hopes to reach the top again one day. And we as fans, hope they do too.
Jackie Steward did win three world titles in the '70s and late '60s, but he wanted more from F1. So in 1997, he launched his own team: the Stewart Grand Prix team, and they did quite well. They did so well in fact, that the 1999 European Grand Prix saw them emerge victorious in what was a crazy race. Heinz-Harold Frentzen led from pole then broke down. David Coulthard took the lead, then crashed out, and it looked like Ralf Schumacher would walk away to a comfortable, but also nerve-wracking win in the damp conditions. He then suffered a puncture, allowing Johnny Herbert to take the win with teammate Rubens Barrichello third.
Yes, this somehow did happen. Despite being no slouch, Hans Heyer had a rather dismal foray into Formula 1. Driving for Germany's team ATS, he entered the 1977 Grand Prix at Hockenheim. But his speed was in touring cars and wasn’t fully up to speed yet in open wheelers. So when qualifying was done, Heyer didn’t make the cut for the race. That didn’t stop him though. He decided to start the race anyway, retired after nine laps and was subsequently disqualified. He is the only man in F1 to hold a DNS, DNF and DSQ. Perhaps, a slightly unwanted achievement, but still noteworthy.
To win a race in Formula 1 is hard enough. To win a race in every season you have competed in is even harder. Yet somehow, one driver has done that. Lewis Hamilton is currently the only driver to have won a race in every season he has competed in, stretching all the way back to 2007 and his first win that year in Canada, to his current last win at the end of the 2018 season in Abu Dhabi. He will no doubt add more wins to that tally, as he is in the reigning champion team, and is the reigning champion, so expect this record to probably stay with him when he retires.
Sources: Sky Sports, Autosport, Grand Prix 24/7, Report, Reddit