Wednesday, May 13, marks the 70th anniversary of the first official Formula 1 Grand Prix.
We all know F1 is full of thrilling championship battles, but the list below looks at several key moments that changed and shaped the sport the most.
Formula 1 1966: The record that will never be equalled
Sir Jack Brabham achieved something truly unique in 1966, winning the F1 drivers’ title while driving for a team bearing his name.
As a team, Brabham had enjoyed moderate success in its first four years of competing, but 1966 changed everything as Brabham completed a drivers’ and constructors’ championship double.
Never before had a driver taken the title while driving for their own team, and 54-years later, this remains an unmatched achievement.
Taking the title – Brabham’s third – also put him second to Juan Manuel Fangio as the most successful driver in the sport.
Introducing the Safety Car: Canada 1973
While not officially launched on a full-time basis in 1983, the first recorded use of the Safety Car in F1 came in the ’73 Canadian Grand Prix.
The yellow Porsche 914 may have enabled marshals to clear up several incidents in difficult conditions, but it also led to chaos by failing to pick up the lead car, causing several drivers to drop off the lead lap.
Something taken for granted in modern F1, this simple addition is also one of the most important.
Rush: The 1976 German Grand Prix
Niki Lauda narrowly escaped death in the ’76 German Grand Prix held on the fearsome Nordschleife. Making contact with the barriers, Lauda’s Ferrari burst into flames and the Austrian was airlifted to hospital suffering from serious burns.
Such was Lauda’s condition, he was read the last rites, only to miraculously return to the grid after missing just two races.
The accident marked the end for the Nordschleife in F1 as tracks were required to make significant safety improvements.
Enough is enough: Imola 1994
A weekend that sticks in the memory for all the wrong reasons, the ’94 San Marino Grand Prix saw the passing of both Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.
As a result of the tragic events, the aspect of driver safety was pushed to the forefront. It could be argued that had such a high-profile name not been lost, the changes would not have been so rapid.
But since May 1, 1994, only one driver has passed away as a result of a grand prix incident. Even in death, the legacies of Ratzenberger and Senna live on.
2014: Enter the Hybrid
For 2014, F1 adopted a new set of engine regulations. This is nothing new for the sport, but the change from normally aspirated V8 engines to 1.6L V6 turbo hybrid power units was the largest change in the history of the sport.
F1 was now looking to the future rather than living in the moment, and the change of attitude has driven teams to produce the most energy-efficient and least polluting powertrains ever seen.
It is likely another switch, either to fully electric or hydrogen power, is not too far away, but this change was an important step in the green revolution.
Before you go…
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