The motorsport industry has a long and colourful history. Over the years, there have been many improvements in the technology of racing and engine development. Here are a few of the significant milestones in the history of Formula One racing.
Starting in the 1958 racing season, races were reduced from a maximum of 500km to no more than 300km. Engines were required to run on Avgas, or aviation fuel. This allowed for impressive combustion and higher speeds.
1958 also saw the first race won by a car that had an engine positioned behind the driver. This win caused others to take notice and soon all Formula One cars were made this way. Stirling Moss won the 1958 Argentina Grand Prix in a rear-engine car.
In 1962, the Lotus racing team introduced the revolutionary monocoque chassis made from lightweight aluminium. Instead of being made from a rigid metal skeleton, the monocoque chassis supported itself without the heavy framework of struts, combined with a streamlined shape. This breakthrough helped driver Jim Clark establish himself as a top driver on the circuit when he took the Formula One World Championship in two out of three years.
Sponsors and safety
Unrestricted private sponsorship for cars and drivers came into being in 1968. This is also an era that saw drivers unite to demand better safety features. Cars became more aerodynamic and tyres became wider for increased stability. More sponsorship helped to fund these improvements and helped ensure that cars were not neglected after corporate automobile firms decided to discontinue sponsorship of cars and drivers. After a car lost control and went into a crowd, killing four people, in 1973, more steps were taken to allow a safe distance and provide barriers between fans and the track.
From V8 to V6 hybrid engines
Max Mosley, a founder and former president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the organisation behind Formula One racing, recently commented on the change of Formula One cars from standard V8 engines to hybrid V6 engines. Many people have commented that the cars don’t sound the same and that this is not a good thing. This comes after it was deemed unacceptable for the standard race car to be only four cylinders. Mosley says the change is in the right direction, that the cars were becoming outdated, and that the new engines are a much needed and welcome change (see http://www1.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/9267301/former-fia-president-max-mosley-has-described-f1s-noise-debate-as-nonsense).
Looking towards the future of racing
Technology improves every day. The future of motorsports will be full of innovation and excitement. Drivers will have an opportunity to drive safer and more fuel-efficient cars. Fuel efficiency not only reduces time spent refuelling, it also helps minimise the environmental impact of motorsport. Don’t be surprised when there are further innovations in alternative fuels as well. Cars will likely become faster as engines are improved, and greater safety features help increase the confidence of drivers. Better handling capabilities will also contribute to more efficient driving.
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