The Formula 1 World Championship started in 1950 with the first race being
held at Silverstone, Great Britain. In these early days, the length of the race
was 300Km or 3 hours. The cars could have engines up to 4500cc normally
aspirated, or 1500cc supercharged. The points system was somewhat different
than it is today with 8-6-4-3-2 points being awarded to the top five drivers,
with an extra point for the driver with the fastest lap time. Drivers were
allowed to share cars with the points being divided accordingly. Only the best
four results counted towards the world championship standings.
In 1952/53, world championship races were held with Formula 2 style cars due
to the insufficient number of Formula 1 cars. Engines were 2000cc normally
aspirated or 500cc supercharged.
1954 saw the re-introduction of Formula 1 cars. The maximum engine sizes
were now 2500cc normally aspirated or 750cc supercharged. The points system was
changed so that the best five results in a year counted towards the championship
standings. Things stayed fairly constant until 1958 when it was ruled that
drivers could no longer share cars in a race. To compensate, the race length
was changed to 300 and 500 Km with a maximum race length of two hours. The
points system changed yet again with the best six races counting.
There were more changes on the way and in 1960, the extra point for the
fastest lap was removed. 1961 saw the introduction of a minimum dry weight for
the car, and body work restrictions stopped enclosed wheels. The points also
changed again to 9-6-4-3-2 -1 for the first six finishers.
The maximum engine size changed again in 1966 to 3000cc normally aspirated
or 1500cc supercharged, and in 1972 the restriction of a maximum of 12 cylinders
per engine was introduced.
In 1983 more aerodynamic changes were imposed mandating a flat underside to
the car. Three years later the engines specification changed again to a maximum
of 1500cc supercharged or turbocharged with no other restrictions. This only
lasted a few years before a maximum of 3500cc normally aspirated only was
introduced in 1989 thus bring to the end the 'turbo period'.
1994 saw the next set of changed after Ayrton Senna's death. More
aerodynamic restrictions were imposed and the airbox was revised in an attempt
to reduce engine power. A 10cm stepped flat bottom was also introduced to slow
down the cars.
The points system continuously changed up to 1984 when it stabilised at the
best 11 results out of the 16 races. This remain until 1991 when all
restrictions were removed and the points from all 16 races counted - this is
what we have today.
Now we have a 3000cc normally aspirated engine as a maximum, but the airbox
restrictions have been removed. The traction control and self levelling
suspension systems of the early 1990 's have been band, and further new rules
are planned for 1997/98.
Of these, the most noticeable is the planned introduction of grooved tyres
to reduce grip in cornering and thus speed. It has been suggest that this may
lead to some of the aerodynamic restriction being removed. The thinking being
that if cars get too fast again, another groove can be introduced.