The history of Formula One is quite an in depth story full of both prestigious triumphs and disastrous failures. Though the modern era of Formula One Grand Prix racing began in 1950, its history goes back even further, tracing back as far as the pioneering road races in France during the 1890's, the German domination of the early 1930's, and the post-war years of Italian supremacy. The foundation of Formula One began in 1946 with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's (FIA's) standardisation of rules. Non-championship Formula One races were held for many years, although the world championship has always been the main focus of the category. The last of these occurred in 1983 due to the rising cost of competition. In the 1960s and 1970s National championships existed in South Africa and the UK.
At the beginning stages of racing, vehicles were heavy and upright, while the roads they competed on were tarred sand or wood. Drivers were accompanied by mechanics, races were generally performed on public roads in between towns, in a distance that was considered quite long by modern standards. In 1895 the first proper motor race was won by Emile Levassor with his Panhard et Levassor in a 1,200 km road race from Paris to Bordeaux in a total of 48 hours. In 1899 Fernand Charron, one of the most successful drivers of the early racing era, won the Paris-Bordeaux race, also in a Panhard at the impressive average speed of 29.9 mph.
At the 1901's French Grand Prix at Le Mans, Ferencz Szisz, driving a Renault, won the first race that used the designation 'Grand Prix' while covering 700 miles at 63 miles per hour. The introduction of 'pits' came about in 1908 at the Targa Florio in Sicily. The 'pits' were shallow emplacements dug by the side of the track so mechanics could work on the detachable rims on early GP car tires. Racing cars of the early years were too heavy and fast for their tires. One such instance of a calamity was at the 1908 French Grand Prix at Dieppe, Christian Lauteschalnger, driving a Mercedes, shredded ten tires during the race.
The large 4 1/2 liter Mercedes of Daimler-Benz commanded the French Grand Prix at Lyons in 1914 achieving 20 laps of 23.3 mile circuit, taking the first three places, and by signal from the pits, introducing control of drivers. While racing was halted during World War I in Europe, many drivers flocked to the U.S. Indianapolis 500. The first international road race in France in six year was the 1920 Voiturette race at Le Mans.
In 1921, the first Grand Prix victory by an American-built vehicle was captured by Jimmy Murphy at Le Mans whilst driving a Duesenberg. Some of the best of the 1920s manufacturers were Bugati, the Monaco, Fiat (which introduced the supercharger for the first time in 1923) and French and Belgian GPs in 1930.
Zapping much of the enthusiasm, money and interest in Grand Prix racing, the Great Depression of the early 1930's hit the world quite hard in its regard for vehicular racing for a time. The Great Depression did see the appearance of the legendary Tazio Nuvolari, whose wins in the Alfa Romeo P3 'Monzo' in the Mille Miglia and other races were in a word, impressive. Following his win in the 1933 Monaco GP was the decision in which staring grid positions were determined by qualifying times. The following year the balance of racing power began to shift from Italy to Germany as the factory teams from Mercedez Benz and Auto Union (today Audi) were financed completely through the Third Reich government on orders from Adolph Hitler.
Eye-catching and impressively powerful, these German automobiles introduced aerodynamics into Grand Prix car design. Nuvolari achieved even higher greatness while driving the sleek silver 3-liter V12 Auto Union well-engineered automobile. In 1935 he went on to defeat nine modern German cars in a four-year old Alfa Romeo at the Nürburgring.
Following World War II, motor racing initiated a new formula. At the start called Formula A, it soon became known as Formula 1, for cars of 1,500 cc superchanged and 4,500 cc un-supercharged. The minimum amount of race distance was reduced from 311 miles to only 186 miles and allowing the Monaco Grand Prix to be re-introduced following a two-year gap in 1950. In that same year during a meeting, the FIA, Federation Internationale de l'Automobile announced plans for a World Championship. First defined in 1946 by the Commission Sportive Internationale of the FIA, forerunner of FISA, as the premier single seater racing category in worldwide motorsport, the name Formula One was widely used early on and became official in 1950.
The first contest to be labeled an 'International Formula One' race, on April 10, 1950, Juan Manuel Fangio won the Paul Grand Prix in a Maserati. The following month the British Grand Prix was hosted by Silverstone and was the first sanctioned championship race for Formula One Grand Prix cars. This was the beginning of the F1 World Championship.
The first F1 champion, and the winner at Silverstone in 1950, Giuseppe Farina behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 158 also claimed the Belgium, Swiss and Italian racing in addition to non-championship wins at Bari and Donnington. He is best known for his driving style, which was directly opposite many of his crouched contemporaries and instead was relaxed, in an inclined position with outstretched arms. This style of driving was to influence a whole generation of drivers. Farina left for Ferrari in 1951 and began a personal battle with Alberto Ascari, a battle he would eventually lose to the more competent driver. More precise, and faster, Ascari won the F1 championship in 1952 and 1953 in the Ferrari 500.
Ruling the first decade of Formula one would have to be Fangio, from Argentina who claimed five World Championships for five different manufacturers and four consecutively from 1954 through 1957. Following a disastrous multi-car accident which left 85 people dead and came close to claiming Fangio's life at the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours, Mercedes withrew from motor racing and Fangio went on to Ferrari. In 1956, Fangio won with five poles, three wins and one 2nd in seven races. In 1957, Fangio raced in the German GP at the Nürburgring, perhaps his greatest race. Behind the wheel of a Maserati 250F, even though he lost 56 seconds in the lead in a pit stop, he returned to win by regaining sped and bettering the track record for the 14.2 mile Nordeschlifer by an impressive 12 seconds on three consecutive laps.
Stirling Moss was Fangio's rival and is perhaps the greatest F1 driver never to win a championship, finished second to Fangio at Mercedes in 1955 in the 'Silver Arrows', in 1956 with Maserati and yet again with Vanwall in 1957. In 1955 Moss became the first Briton to win the British Grand Prix, at Aintree in a British car, the 1957 Vanwall VW5. Following an accident during the 1960 Belgium Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, Moss's career ebbed and he went on to retire.
The British Era really began to hit off in 1958 when Mike Hawthorn captured the F1 championship behind the wheel of the Ferrari 246. Hawthorn, the first British World Champion, disgusted by Ferrari politics retired at the end of season, only to be killed months later in a road accident in his Jaguar.
Vanwall withdrew from F1, but soon to follow were a series of dominant British Grand Prix teams, that made British racing green the ‘official' color of F1 for more than a decade. This began an ushering in an era of British F1 engineering excellence that still extends today. British F1 teams won 12 World Championships with drivers between 1962 and 1973. This began in 1959 with the Cooper team, using a 2,500 cc Coventry Climax engine and a revolutionary rear-engine design that achieved back-to-back F1 titles for Australian Jack Brabham with a combination of superb weight distribution and handling.
Dominating the second decade of Formula One was Colin Chapman's Team Lotus that was pushed by his technical brilliance. Lotus thrived on the extraordinary relationship between Chapman and his driver Jim Clark, who was to make the most of Lotus' technical advances for F1 vehicles. One of the most vital of these was the monocoque chassis which was introduced with the Lotus 25 in 1962, which along with rear engines marked the second largest technological change in Formula One.
Clark was involved in an accident at Monza in 1961 that took the life of Wolfgang von Trips, giving the World Championship to American Phil Hill and Ferrari 156. An oil leak caused a DNG while leading the final race at Kyalami and Clark barely lost the 1962 title to Graham Hill. In 1963 he won, and again in 1965, achieving the maximum possible championship points in both seasons. He also competed and became the first Briton to win the Indianapolis 500. Jack Brabham's new Team Brabham won in 1966 and 1977 while Lotus struggled with the new, increased 3.0 liter engine specification for F1.
Jimmy Clark won four straight Belgian GPs at the very difficult Spa-Francorchaps circuit. During the 1965 season in the Lotus 33, he led every lap of ever race he finished. During the 1968 season in South Africa, Clark broke the legendary Fangio's record for career victories in the opening race, but unfortunately died just months later at Hockenheim in an F2 race following a crash into the trees in the rain on April 7th.
Following Clark's death, the British era remained. In a Lotus 49 fitted with the then-new Ford Cosworth engine, Graham Hill took the 1968 title. Hill was introduced at the Dutch Grand Prix in June 1967, and with the first sponsorship colors and logs seen in F1 racing. Clark's close friend and protégé, Jackie Stewart soon took on the mantle of champion, and eventually surpassed Clark's career record for GP wins and captured three World Championships between 1969 and 1973.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Formula One technology was developed at a fast and furious pace. Midway through the 1968 season, the introduction of wings, or ‘aerofoils' was the introduction of such F1 technology. Wings allowed for the creation of ‘downforce,' pinning cars to the track for greater traction and increased cornering speed. Unfortunately, the original high-mounted, manually adjustable rear wings had a tendency to fall off, which caused tremendous shunts- F1 aerodynamic engineering proceeded in fits and starts. Wings were banned for Monaco and the balance of the championship that year due to Jackie Oliver's practice crash in July 1968, and disastrous accidents for both Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt during the 1969 Spanish GP at Montjuich Pack.
Possibly his finest victory, Jackie Stewart won the 1968 German GP at the Nürburgring, where during the mist and torrential rain he outpaced the field to win by just over four minutes from Hill. Steward and his team owner, Ken Tyrrell owned the 1969 season as they dominated F1 with their Matra MS80, winning at Kyalami, Montjuich, Clermont-Ferrand, Zandvoorty, Silverstone and Monza.
In 1970 Lotus returned with a vengeance and the season was all about the brilliance of Austrian Jochen Rindt with his new Lotus 72. Unfortunately this was all overshadowed by the horrific death of Rindt in practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza's infamous Parabolica corner.
By now the Cosworth engine was now ubiquitous in F1 racing, though the Lotus 72 with its distinctive ‘shovel' nose and nose wings was significantly faster. In 1970 Rindt won the championship posthumously. His replacement as number one driver for Lotus was Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi who piloted the 72 to his first F1 as the season-ending U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. Fittipaldi and Stewart then split the next four World Championships. Stewart took 1971 and 1973 for the new Team Tyrrell which was sponsored by Elf, while Fittipaldi won with the black 'John Player Special' Lotus in 1972, giving Team McLaren its first F1 title in 1974. One race short of 100 GPs, Stewart retired at Watkins Glen in 1972, withdrawing from the contest following the death in practice of Francois Cevert, his comrade and protégé at Tyrrell.
Following Stewart's retirement, Ferrari resumed its place in the forefront of F1 in 1975 with the flat-12 powered 312T and drivers Clay Regazzoni and Niki Lauda. The season was rife with protests and concerns regarding driver safety. Fittipaldi refused to drive in the Spanish GP, which was halted following 29 laps when a car launched into the crown and claimed the lives of four spectators. Lauda won five races and took nine poles to capture his first of three F1 crowns. To increase air flow to the engine, Formula One cars now sported huge airboxes behind the cockpits, leading the way to the next major technological advancement in F1: ground effects.
Following his championship win, Niki Lauda battled with James Hunt to win six of the first nine races of the 1976 season. Unfortunately Lauda crashed his Ferrari at Bergwerk, a 150 mph section of the Nürburgring, at the German Grand Prix on August 1st. It was a devastating accident that left severe facial burns and the inhalation of toxic fumes from the car's burning bodywork. Lauda was expected to die and received his Last Rites in the hospital, but in an amazing display of sheer determination, he made a miraculous recovery and returned to the cockpit in just six weeks, in time for the Italian GP, where he finished 4th.
Following several victories by Hunt at Mosport and Watkins Glen, the '76 Formula One season went down to the final race at Fuji in Japan. Lauda led the World Championship by three points before withdrawing from the race following three laps of torrential rain. He gave the championship to ‘Master James', Britain's last F1 champion for 16 years. Not knowing whether he had placed or whether he had won the title, he nursed his rain tires until a late-race pit stop and finished the race, unable to even see the track.
In 1977 Lauda re-captured the title with Ferrari, but stepped down from the team with two races still to go, following a calculated 4th place championship-clincher at the U.S. Grand Prix, to join Berne Ecclestone's Parmalat Brabham team, and eventually be replaced in the Ferrari by Gilles Villeneuve.
Now referred to as ‘designers', Formula one engineers had been continuously working on aerodynamics for more than ten years. The art may have been reached in 1978 with the ‘ground effects' Lotus 78/79. Using side skirts and underbody design to literally glue the car to the circuit, ground effects turned the entire vehicle into a large, inverted wing. Taking the Lotus to the championship in 1978, Mario Andretti described the road effects as making the car ‘feel like it's painted to the road'. As Lotus won nice of the 15 races in the 1978 season, Colin Chapman's careful developments of the ground-effect car principle had reduced conventional GP machines basically uncompetitive in little over 12 months. Unfortunately Andretti's own championship winning race was scarred by the death of team mate Ronnie Peterson at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
In 1978 it would be the final time a Lotus driver would win the World Championship before Colin Chapman's death, while the Lotus team slowly declining into mediocrity and dissolution.
Though evolutionary, ground effects had a problem, mainly that very slight miscalculations in set-up would render the ground-effect F1 car un-driveable and very unstable. The vehicles were rigidly sprung, rock-hard cars with basically no ride height tolerance and barely any ability to handle curbs and bumps due to the need to keep ground clearances extremely low. Unpredictable occurrences would happen if the airflow beneath the car was disrupted for any reason.
By 1981 and 1982 all teams were using ground effects. In an effort to bring more driver control and skill to the F1, ground effects were officially banned in 1983. Though both were introduced initially during the 1977 season and both eventually banned, one could say that ground effects were less important to the long-run development of F1 technology than turbo-charging. Renault re-entered Formula One with the Turbo RS01, driven by Jean-Pierre Jabouille at the same time that Lotus was developing the ground-effect principle. Remarkably quick, the first turbo unfortunately was not very reliable and suffered from ‘turbo lag' under acceleration. It would be an entire year before the Renault finished a Grand Prix.
The introduction of radial tires, originally by Michelin, then Goodyear and finally followed by Pirelli occurred during the 1977 season.
Following the Lotus onslaught of 1978, turbo development moved at a snails pace. In 1979 South African Jody Scheckter driving the normally-aspirated Ferrari 312T4 claimed the F1 title. Described as ‘perhaps the most tenacious fighter seen in racing for year', Gilles Villeneuve won 2nd place in the World Championship by a close four points. The 1979 French Grand Prix was won with Jabouilly, while Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux followed close behind, with Villeneuve crossing the finish line a mere 0.3 seconds ahead.
In 1980 Alan Jones and Team Williams almost completed dominated the season, while Ferrari unfortunately suffered a horrible year. Renault won at Interlagos, Kyalami and the
Österreichring, the Scuderia introduced their own turbocharged car at Imola. The first Concorde Agreement in 1981 resolved a boycott of the Spanish GP due to a power struggle between FISA and FOCA. From 1981 on the Turbo vehicles dominated the circuit, though Cosworth-powered teams won the championship in 1981 and 1982.
11 teams were using the Cosworth engine in 1982. Meanwhile turbo's continued to be improved, with wins in one-half of 14 races. However, the real drama behind the 1982 season was dominated by a fight between Villeneuve and Didier Pironi at Ferrari that would end in tragedy for both drivers.
Following the San Marino Grand Prix in which Pironi passed Villeneuve, against team orders, while the Ferrari's were easily running 1-2 under turbo power, Gilles claimed that he would never again speak to his team mate. Two weeks later, Villeneuve was killed while attempting to improve his grid position late in qualifying for the Dutch GP at Zolder. It was a severe accidence that flung the driver out of the cockpit as the Ferrari cartwheeled across the track and landed nose in the sand. Ricardo Paletti was tragically killed in his Osala at the beginning of the Canadian GP at Montreal, and Pironi also suffered horrible leg injuries during practice for the German GP at Hockenheim two months later. Pironi never raced in the F1 again.
In 1983 the turbo era began to really take off with gusto as Piquet won his second World Championship by only two points, while using a turbocharged BMW powerplant. At the same time McLaren introduced the TAG-Porsche engine, driven to four checkered flags by runner Prost. Driven by fourth-year driver Nigel Mansell, Lotus also brought a turbo Renault which Mansell took to his first podium finish at Brands Hatch. McLaren and the TAG turbo won 12 out of 16 races in the 1984 season with a new MP4/2 car that was designed by John Barnard. McLaren took the constructors' championship with record points. Lauda also won five of those to seven for Prost, and won the F1 drivers' title by 1/2 point. (Only half points were awarded during the race due to the Monaco GP being halted in a thunderstorm after 31 laps. This race is today considered legendary as Ayrton Senna, driving for Toleman in his first F1 season, passed Prost on the final lap in the rain, and forever blamed the Formula One establishment of stealing the win.
During the late 1980's, Rob Dennis's team dominated the track unlike any team before. In 1985 and 1986 Prost won the World Championship. In 1988, Senna, who had joined McLaren following several seasons with Lotus, won the F1 title, taking the championship deciding race in Japan at Suzuka after stalling on the grid, with an inspired drive to catch and pass Prost before drawing away in the rain.
Prost and Senna eventually went on to win three drivers' titles with Dennis and Team McLaren. Unlike any other season, in 1988 Senna and Prost finished 1-2, with a combination of 167 points while winning 15 of the 16 GPs, and McLaren receiving the constructors' title. Beginning in the 1989 season, normally aspirated engines were mandated, and for cooperation between Prost and Senna.
The fifth major technical revolution in Formula One was reached in 1987 as the sole Williams exception to the string of seven straight McLaren drivers championships from 1984 through 1991. During the 1987 season Team Lotus revealed the first F1 car with a computer-controlled ‘active suspension' system. The ‘black box' controlled starting programs and anti-lock brakes, active suspension, later joined by the semi-automatic gearbox, traction control, would produce complex and faster cars.
McLaren remained supremely dominant at the start of the post-turbo era, but its main stars, Senna and Prost would began a personal rivalry that would never come to an end. Both drivers agreed in 1988 that it made little sense to fight over the first corner of a race, given their cars' technical superiority. Unfortunately at the 1989 San Marino GP, the agreement was broken when Senna overtook Prost during the restart by taking the racing line from behind. A furious Prost found Senna's adversarial approach to be an impossibility to deal with. Meanwhile Senna complained that fighting for the racing line before the braking zone was legitimate.
The feud between the two men reached its breaking point at the time when the 1989 title was on the line at Suzuka. While Prost led by 1.7 seconds at the start, Senna slowly reeled him in, moving alongside at the chicane, putting two wheels on the grass to go for the inside line. Prost turned in and both vehicles collided and went off. Prost left his vehicle in disgust, but Senna insisted on a push start from the track marshals and passed Alessandro Nannini to cross the line first. Senna was disqualified and had his superlicense revoke, while FISA declared Nanninni the winner and awarded the championship to Prost. Senna claimed that this was the true manipulation of the World Championship.
This would again occur in 1990, at a different corner, with the same result, except by this point Prost had moved on to Ferrari. The shunt occurred when Senna was leading the World Championship. Many observers feel that Senna deliberately drove Post off the road as a measure of revenge for the prior year, which Senna admitted in 1991 without remorse.
The 1991 World Championship was won and lost in the first four races, all won by Ayrton Senna. Team Williams introduced the FW14, designed by Patrick Head, and it was in 1991 that the active era in Formula One truly began. Originally debuted by Ferrari in 1989, the first F1 car combined a semi-automatic gearbox with traction control. Revolutionary, the FW14 broke the old dictum that ‘To finish first, first you have to finish.'
Senna was driving a plainly inferior McLaren-Honda Mp4/6, and following four raced had recorded four pole positions and four wins. No one before had ever started a Formula One World Championship campaign with four straight victories and to the others it was demoralizing. All races counting for the championship for the first time in F1, there was an increase in the points for a win from 9 to 10. Senna had 40 points, and nearest challenger 11, and Mansell of Williams with only six.
Mansell took second to Senna at Monaco, and at the Canadian GP on June 2nd, Mansell qualified second, took the lead in the first corner and ended the penultimate lap with a lead of more than a minute. Mansell turned into the final hairpin, and while waving to the crowd, cut the engine dead and allowed the car to coast to a slow stop. Piquet pushed forward to take the checkered flag for Benetton, his final F1 win.
The rest of the 1991 season was a fruitless quest by both Mansell and Williams to beat Senna, including a disqualification while leading at Estoril after a wheel fell off in the middle of pit road. Winning three in a row in France, England and Germany, Mansel came into Suzuka needed two more victories to take the title. Unfortunately Mansell went off into the sand chasing the Brazilian on lap ten, and Senna won his 3rd Formula One championship in four years.
Running off an amazing streak over the 1992-1993 seasons, Williams added traction control and a variety of other computer-controlled gadgets to their gearbox. Mansell rose to win the World Championship in 1992, winning the first five races and a total of nine overall, breaking Senna's 1988 record and receiving the F1 crown. Mansell retired from Williams after the win.
Prost returned in 1993, and promoted test driver Damon Hill (son of Graham Hill) to driving number 'O' to the second stop at Williams. In the same year he won his fourth and final World Championship which put him second on the all-tome Formula one list only to Juan Manual Fangio.
In some respects, the end of another era, in 1993 the FIA declared an end to ‘driver's aids', banning active suspension, traction control and other automatic car adjustment mechanisms. This was mainly due to the perceived absence of driver skill as a delimiter of success, and concern over the impact a long series of ‘runaway' seasons on worldwide viewership and sponsor money.
Senna once again won five GPs in an outmatched McLaren MP 4/8. The finest victory of his career, Senna picked up five places in the rain on the first lap at the European GP at Donnington Park, solidifying his place in history as the ‘rainmeister'.
Following a final victory at Adelaide in the last race of the 1993 season, Senna prepared to move to Team Williams, after striking a $20 million per-year deal with the team, and owner that had given him his first test ride in an F1 car nearly ten years earlier.
The current era in Formula One is marked by a single day, May 1, 1994. But the roots of the transition reach back even further to the 1991 Belgian GP at Spa where German Michael Schumacher entered the F1 season by qualifying 7th in his first Formula One start for Team Jordan, moving on one race later to Benetton. Since Mansell and newly retired Prost had left the F1, there was only Schumacher to compete with Senna and prove true driver mettle with the newly revised F1 cars
F1 designers were hard pressed to meet the new design specifications following years of focusing on their active components. Much of the paddock was not even delivered in time for much winter testing before the season's first race at Interlagos in Brazil.
Everyone expected that the combination of Senna and Williams would make the 1994 and easy march to the World Championship. Unfortunately for those predictors, Senna failed to finish, though taking three poles in the season's first three races, Schumacher won eat time, putting himself 30 points up in the championship as the F1 debacle descended on the San Marino GP at Imola. During practice two very devastatingly violent accidents did occur, one that took the life of first-year Simtek driver Roland Ratzenberger, and another that landed Brazilian Rubens Barrichelle in the hospital shook the cores of the GP Fraternity. Barrichello regained consciousness finally and withdrew from the final qualifying session. At this time Senna phones his girlfriend in Lisbon to tell her he did not want to compete in the race on Sunday.
However racing was Senna's passion and he took to the track the following day holding the pole position once again. Six laps behind the safety car after a starting line shunt, Senna was in first place just car lengths ahead of Schumacher when on lap seven his Rothmans Williams-Renault bottomed out in the fast Tamburello corner, struck the wall head on at 180+ mph and ricocheted back onto the track. Eventually pulled from the wreckage, Senna was taken away in a helicopter. Hours later he died due to massive head injuries. Aryton Senna was the first and so far the only F1 World Champion to have died during a Grand Prix race. He was only 34 years old.
New emergency rules were implemented by FIA to slow the cars further following the aftermath of Tamburello, along with mandated pit speed limits, ‘stepped' bottoms to reduced downforce, limited wing sizes and increased cockpit openings.
The first two grid spaces were left empty and a moment of silence before the green light was observed at the next race at Monaco as a gesture of respect for the fallen comrade. Schumacher took his first pole position and then back-to-back World Championships in 1994 and 1995 with the latter season seeing a variety of head-to-head duels with Damon Hill.
A measure of excitement was brought back to the Formula one following these twin Schumacher title seasons. Alesi, who had competed with Senna as a first-year driver in the streets of Phoenix in 1991, finally won his first GP at Canada in 1995. Lotus first merged with the Pacific GP team before withdrawing completely from F1 claiming bankruptcy and total disorder following nearly a decade as a backmarker.
In 1995 Mansell made the unfortunate decision to return to F1 in a specially designed 'fat' McLaren to encompass his newly attained girth. He lasted all of three races but never made an impact despite a final win for Williams during an unequally brief stint the following season.
Damon Hill won the World Championship in 1996. Jacques Villeneuve, son of the famous Gilles Villeneuve, won a Indy 500 and IndyCar championship joined Team Williams. At this point Schumacher had moved on to join Ferrari for $27 million per season bringing Maranello three victories and a renewal with the Tifosi celebrating after Ferrari's first victory in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in nearly ten years.
Controversy and politics has unfortunately not yet been eliminated. In 1994 Michael Schumacher was shown the black flag at Silverstone for ‘overtaking' on the pre-race parade lap, and then punished by FIA with a two-race suspension for allegedly ignoring the flag while Benetton's Flavio Briatore argued with the stewards. Schumacher was disqualified on technical grounds at the Hungaroring after the wooden undertray plank on his Benetton was judged too thin under the regulations.
At Adelaide, Damon Hill was second in the race and the world championship, desperately dove for a small gap and Schumacher shut the door, breaking the Williams' front wishbone and securing the win and season title. Controversy continued into 1995 where Hill collided into Schumacher at Silverstone, spun out while leading at Hockenheim, leaving Schumacher to win his second title. Villeneuve won the 1997 World Championship.
Villeneuve was disqualified at Suzuki for failing to slow under a waived yellow flag in practice, which ensued a seesaw mid-season battle between Schumacher and Villeneuve. Michael put the Ferrari 14 points in the lead with consecutive victories at Montreal and Magny-Cours, while Jacques was reprimanded by the FIA and summoned to appear personally in Paris the Wednesday before his home Grand Prix after criticizing proposals for '98 rule changes that were again designed to slow the cars.
The result was a first-lap Jacques shunt into the wall on the pit straight chiane while leading the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Villeneuve acted nonplussed, though the Canadian press considered the ill-timed meeting to be petty.
Jackie Stewart's new Stewart Racing team, backed by Ford was entered into the 1997 F1 season. Before they were banned in 1998, Team Tyrrell introduced the ugly and controversial 'X-wings', sidepod-mounted winglets.
F1 enthusiasts complained that Grand Prix racing had become an overly esoteric technical exercise with overtaking on most circuits the product of pit stop strategies rather than passing cars on the track itself. The change in rules in1 997 led to changed tactics that fundamentally altered the sport.
Villeneuve held a nine-point advantage during the penultimate race at Suzuka, but his DQ and Ferrari's timely win put Schumacher in the points lead by one. Everything came down to the European Grand Prix which would be held at Spain's Jerez. Villeneuve qualified on pole with Schumacher alongside posting the exact same time. Villeneuve moved to overtake Schumacher for lead on lap 48, 20 tours from the finish and Schumacher turned in to the Williams left-hand sidepod as the Canadian dived inside. The moved was perceived widely as a re-run of the very controversial Schumacher-Hill accident at Adelaide in 1994. This time the ending result was the Ferrari stranded in the gravel trap and Villeneuve coasting to an easy third-place and the World Championship title.
Unfortunately for Schumacher, this time he was brought before the FIA, stripped of his second-place in the driver's championship, and transformed among many F1 fans from Saint into the devil incarnate. The Ferrari team, for which the manager Jean Todt had brought Schumacher on board as their ‘salvation' was faced with the difficult task of another hard winter and yet another season in many long years.
McLaren International returned to F1's roots with new silver West cars powered by Mercedes, hearkening to the ‘Silver Arrows' that were driven by Fangio and Moss during the 1950's. They had discarded their long-lived orange and white livery when Marlboro withdrew from Formula One. Taking Andretti's seats and surviving a massive head injury during a high-speed crash at Adelaide in 1995 was hakkinen and Coulthard. Winning the opening race of the 1996 season, the Scot gave way to permit the Finn to win his first GP in the finale at Jerez in a show of characteristic sportsmanship.
The 1998 Formula One proved to be one of the most exciting F1 seasons in years, even despite the rule changes and grooved tires. The tires were supplied by both Goodyear and Bridgestone. The vehicles were once again faster, and overtaking proved to be just as difficult.
Hakkinen in his reigning MP 4/13 McLaren won four of the first six races, including opening 1-2 finishes with Coulthard in both Melbourne and Interlagos. Schumacher though split the McLarens on the Buenos Aires grid and outwitted Coulthard into making a mistake to win the Argentine Grand Prix. Following Hakkinen's victory at Monaco left him 22 points in the drivers championship lead and it seemed that Ferrari were doomed to yet another season rife with disappointment. F1 fans resigned themselves to another McLaren leap to the finish.
But it an amazing display of drive, Schumacher fought back fiercely, driving his Maranello team to improve the vehicle, winning back-to-back in Canada and France, then adding the British GP to move within two points going into the ninth race at the Austrian A-1 Ring.
Unfortunately, Schumacher pressed to hard at the start on a light fuel load and ploughing through the gravel at high speed, eventually finished third. Schumacher was again seven points down and was just barely hanging on when the FI moved to Spa-Francorchamps. Another controversial race in Belgium, a huge 13-car shunt at the La Source hairpin was started by Coutlhard resulted in many cars being put out of action at the first corner. Hakkinen then spun on the restart and destroyed his McLaren when he was hit by Johnny Herbert's Sauber-Petronas.
Schumacher had an incredible lead even through horrible rain, then reamed a slow-moving Coulthard from behind in the spray, wiping off the Ferrari's entire right-side suspension and wheel. Furious, Schumacher stormed down pit lane to have it out with ‘DC' but was pushed away by the mechanicals. Team Jordan received its first GP victory by Damon Hill.
Schumacher went on to win at Monza to tie in the World Championship. But Hakkinen rose to the challenge. Under great pressure, he won the Luxembourg GP at the Nürburgring, outpacing schumacher's pole with a pass in the pits, taking a four-lead to the finale at Suzuka. Hakkinen took the World Championship title.
1999 was the 50th anniversary season of the modern formula one era and the end of the first century of Grand Prix racing.
Alex Zanardi returned to F1 from CART racing in the U.S. Many were expecting an impressive win, but instead, Zanardi never got the feel for the groove-tired modern F1 car. Instead Ralf Schumacher took the team lead and scored well for Frank Williams. Johnny Herbert won his third win, and Jacques Villeneuve led a largely funded British American Racing team using a modified Reynard chassis that has dominated American IndyCar racing to a disappointing points-less finish.
Michael Schumacher was shunted out for nearly the entire season at Silverstone, after breaking his legs after a full wheel lock crash straight into the tire barrier. Eddie Irvine, his Ferrari team mate took up the slack and won four races. Unfortunately after losing concentration he made some bad judgement calls and Mika Hakkinen won the season final GP in Suzuka, capturing his second consecutive drivers' title by a slim two points.
Though many fans felt that the 2000 Formula One season would see a revival among the backmakers, particularly the new Team Jaguar, this was not the case. Ferrari and McLaren continued their dominance, winning every race together, nine by Michael Schumacher alone.
German convincingly won the World Championship at the penultimate U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis, returning to Formula One following a gap of nine years. It was Maranello's first F1 championship in more than 20 years. Schumacher tied the legendary Ayrton Senna for second place among all drivers in career victories.
Since the early 1990s, Ferrari had been steadily improving since their low point, and in 2000 Schumacher prevailed, becoming the first 3 time Champion since Senna. He brought the World Driver's title to Ferrari for the first time since Jody Scheckter in 1979.
Ferrari began to leave the rest of the grid behind in the 2001 season, and Schumacher won the championship by the Hungarian Grand Prix. The following year, Ferrari finished every race, and won 15 out of 16. Schumacher scored more points than the second and third place drivers combined. He became the earliest ever championship winner int his season when he wrapped up the championship at the French Grand Prix.
Benetton was no more, and Prost and Arrows had shut their doors for good. Despite heavy rule changes in order to prevent what had happened in the previous year, Schumacher won the championship yet again, though run close by both Kimi Räikkönen and Juan Pablo Montoya. He took the championship by two points at Suzuka.
In 2004 Schumacher returned yet again with seemingly total dominance of the championships. In April a new race in Bahrain made its debute, and another new one in China was introduced in September. It was originally thought that by introducing these new raced, the older ones in Europe, like the British Grand Prix would be removed from the championships, but this was not the case, and the number of races only increased to eighteen.
At the end of 2004, the Ford Motor company decided to pull out of Formula one.
At the 2005 U.S. Grand Prix Fernando Alonso qualified in a Renault Formula One car. Alonso forged a clear championship lead. McLared was significantly a stronger team which consistently better results during the later part of the season. Unfortunately their early record of poor reliability held them back.
Brazil's Fernando Alonso became Formula one's youngest champions ever.
With the purchase of Minardi by Red Bull in September of 2005, the final small specialist racing team disappeared. Minardi was renamed as Scuderia Toro Rosso run as a separate entity alongside Red Bull Racing. Early in 2004, Jordan had been bought by Russo-Canadian steel company Midland and was renamed Midland 1 for the '06 season. BMW bought a majority stake in Sauber in June of 2005. Entering a commercial arrangement with Cosworth instead, the Williams team ended their partnership with BMW as a result of the decision. Honda also bought BAR.
The end of the V10 era in Formula one was marked in 2005. V10 had become the most affluent engine configuration in Formula one since the banning of turbocharged engines in 1989. This configuration was made mandatory in 2000 to keep engine builders from developing and experimenting with other configurations.