Formula One (also Formula 1 or F1 and officially the FIA Formula One World Championship) is the highest class of single-seat auto racing that is sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). The FIA Formula One World Championship has been the premier form of racing since the inaugural season in 1950, although other Formula One races were regularly held until 1983. The “formula”, designated in the name, refers to a set of rules, to which all participants’ cars must conform. The F1 season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix (from French, meaning grand prizes), held worldwide on purpose-built F1 circuits and public roads.
The results of each race are evaluated using a points system to determine two annual World Championships, one for drivers, one for constructors. The racing drivers are required to be holders of valid Super Licences, the highest class of racing licence issued by the FIA. The races are required to be held on tracks graded 1 (formerly A), the highest grade a track can receive by the FIA. Most events are held in rural locations on purpose-built tracks, but there are several events in city centres throughout the world, with the Monaco Grand Prix being the most famous example.
Formula One cars are the fastest road course racing cars in the world, owing to very high cornering speeds achieved through the generation of large amounts of aerodynamic downforce. Formula One cars race at speeds of up to approximately 380 km/h (240 mph) with engines currently limited in performance to a maximum of 15,000 RPM. The cars are capable of lateral acceleration in excess of five g in corners. The performance of the cars is very dependent on electronics – although traction control and other driving aids have been banned since 2008 – and on aerodynamics, suspension, and tyres. The formula has radically evolved and changed through the history of the sport.