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Formula 1 celebrates its 1,000 grands prix in China

Formula 1 celebrates its 1,000 grands prix in China

The Formula 1 World Championship celebrates its 1,000 grands prix on Sunday in China, after a long journey in which the reigning discipline of motorsport has completely changed, since that distant inaugural race in May 1950 in Great Britain won by Italian Giuseppe Farina.

Starting with the number of races, which has gone from 7 to 21 and could increase to 25 in the coming years. Among the original grand prizes, only five are still on the calendar; Belgium, Great Britain, France, Italy and Monaco.

In 70 editions, including 2019, Formula 1 will have visited 32 countries and 72 circuits. There are currently races on every continent except Africa. Europe has 11.

On the contrary, the number of pilots has fallen, from the 26 registered in the first grand prix, passing through the 41 in Germany-1953 to reaching the 20 who will compete in China on Sunday.

Only four competed in at least six races out of the seven in the inaugural season (Giuseppe Farina -champion-, Juan Manuel Fangio, Luigi Fagioli and Louis Rosier). Today the drivers compete for the entire season.

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By nationality, there were nine at Silverstone almost 70 years ago and there will be 15 at the Shanghai circuit. A curiosity, in 1950 there was a Thai on the grid, Prince Bira, and in China there will be a pilot racing with a Thai license, Alexander Albon.

Younger drivers –

Farina was 43 when he was the first world champion in 1950. The youngest to win the title was German Sebastian Vettel, who was 23 when he won the first of his four crowns in 2010.

In the tests, the youngest to raise his arms is the Dutchman Max Verstappen, who was 18 years old when he won in Spain in 2016.

The oldest driver in China this weekend will be Finn Kimi Raikkonen, 39, and the youngest, Briton Lando Norris, 19. The average age of the grid this season is 25.

In the constructors, only two of those who made up the start of the first race will be 1,000 tests later; Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. The latter returns to Formula 1 this year through the Swiss Sauber team, renamed with his name.

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The mythical Scuderia is the only constructor that has participated in all editions of the World Cup.

On a technical level, all the cars that competed in the inaugural British Grand Prix in May 1950 had the engine up front. Now they take them behind. The revolution came in the early 1960s, inspired by the British engineer John Cooper.

Since 2014 the single-seaters have had hybrid engines, powered not only by fuel, but also by an energy recovery system during braking and heat from the exhaust.

– Aerodynamic Revolution –

In the brakes, the drums have given way to the discs, now carbon.

Another revolution, aerodynamics. Almost non-existent in 1950, it is now ubiquitous, since the appearance of the first ailerons in 1968.

For comparison, Farina won the 1950 Italian Grand Prix at Monza with an average speed of 176.543 km / h. In 2018, the winner of the same race, five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, did it at an average of 239.288 km / h.

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The record top speed today exceeds 370 km / h.

When it comes to tires, the narrowness of the 1950s has given way to the wider tires, although their size has been reduced compared to the huge parts that were used in the 70s.

The evolution has also been very deep in security. In 1950 the pilots did not have belts, they ran in shirts and the helmet was reduced to a leather cap.

In 2019 they compete with fireproof overalls, mandatory since the 60s, and, a novelty last year, they are protected by a structure that surrounds the ‘cockpit’ known as the ‘halo’, to protect their heads.

The first rider to adopt the integral helmet, now widespread, was the American Dan Gurney in 1968.

Regarding the scoring system, it has changed several times until reaching the current one, in which the first ten receive points for the World Cup.

The point for the best race lap, attributed from 1950 to 1959, was recovered this year to give more suspense to the tests. AFP

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