Why is F1 Called ‘Formula 1’? [NAME EXPLAINED]

From the early post-WW2 years and until this very day, Formula One has been the epitome of motorsports all around the world, and especially in Europe.

The sounds of the engines, the glamour in attendance, the post-race champagne celebration, this type of magic is certainly hard to replicate by any other sport.

While F1 has vastly evolved since its first championship back in 1950, some things remain unchanged, including the name.

So what is the origin of the “Formula One” name? And what are the main differences between F1 and F2?

Let’s answer these question while digging into the rich history of the world’s most popular motorsport.

How Did Formula One Get Its Name?

In motorsport, the term ‘Formula’ refers to a set of rules and regulations adopted by the organizers, to which all participants must comply with. As for the number ‘One’, it was added to recognize the championship as the premier category in motorsport.

Initially, other names were adopted, including ‘Formula A’ and ‘International Formula’, but in the end, it was decided that ‘Formula 1’ was the most fitting term to describe the sport and identify it as the top of the mountain in engine sports.

Moreover, lower categories began to emerge at the time, most notably Formula Two and Formula Three, all of which made the term ‘F1’ the most logical choice.

Brief History of Formula 1

According to F1’s official website, motorsport’s main acting federation was rebranded as the “Federation Internationale de l’Automobile” – otherwise known as FIA – in the first years following the end of the second World War.

This is when engine sports began its rebuilding era, and the idea of creating the ultimate motorsport began to surface, with the Marquis Antonio Brivio-Sforza (who was Italy’s representative in FIA) considered to be the man behind the notion.

The first F1 championship race was held at the infamous British circuit Silverstone on the 13th of May 1950, and the rest, as they say, is history.

During the first few years, the championship generally consisted of six or seven Grand Prix held around Europe, with an additional round at Indianapolis 500, as the organizers tried to attract the American audience – although US drivers would rarely opt to leave their domestic motorsports and try their luck in a different discipline.

This early era was predominated by Italian constructors (Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari), until 1958, when the British began to deliver fast cars that allowed them to lift championship titles, thanks to constructors like Lotus, Cooper and BRM.

Formula One cars kept getting bigger and faster throughout the 70’s and 80’s, but unfortunate events kept plaguing the sport, with a host of drivers losing their lives in tragic accidents.

Following a hellish weekend in Imola back in 1994 that saw the sport’s biggest superstar at the time (Ayrton Senna) passing away (alongside another driver called Roland Ratzenberger), a revolution took place within the sport to ensure higher safety measures for drivers, workers and fans alike. In the exception of Jules Bianchi in 2014, no F1 driver suffered from a fatal accident ever since.

Since 2014, the sport has been introducing new regulations in the intention of limiting the level of pollution caused by the sport, including downsizing the engines as well as reducing fuel consumption.

What the Difference Between F1 and F2?

In 2005, the GP2 series was introduced to act as a feeder for Formula 1, where a young driver tries to make a name for themselves while racing in an almost similar atmosphere. Since 2017, the series was rebranded as Formula 2, reviving a name that was adopted for a second-tier series between 1948 and 1985.

As the name suggests, F2 can be considered as the equivalent of a second division, with less experienced drivers than F1 (and obviously paid significantly less), and the cars being considerably slower in comparison with motorsport’s top category.

To better understand the differences in car performance between the two categories, let’s take a look at some of the technical specifications adopted based on the 2021 season.

Category Formula 1Formula 2
Engine displacement 1.6 L (98 cu in)3.4 L (207 cu in)
Gearbox8-speed 6-speed
Weight 728 kg including driver and excluding fuel720 Kg including driver and fuel
Fuel Capacity Approx. 150 liters125 liters
Width2,000 mm1,900 mm 
Length  5,100–5,450 mm5,224 mm
Steering Power-assisted rack and pinion steeringManual
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Michel Sakr

A freelance sports writer from Beirut, Lebanon. A football fanatic and a Juventus supporter since childhood, but also keeps an eye on various sports around the globe. Currently contributes at Cultofcacio.com and Juvefc.com You can follow Michel on Twitter or Facebook.

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