A look into the past: the history of the Grand Prix and its drivers
Karl Benz gets the credit for inventing the first modern automobile and patenting it in 1886. The first car was gasoline-powered and used an internal-combustion engine.
Interestingly enough, in 1888, his wife Bertha allegedly stole his Model 3 to take a trip with her children to visit her mother’s who lived in Pforzheim and took the first-ever documented long-distance automobile trip or what we could call a test drive. In fact, her historic ride not only woke the curiosity of people but also allowed Benz to make some adjustments and introduce brake linings and additional gear for climbing hills.
However, it was not until 1894 that the first motorsport competition was organized. The French magazine Le Petit Journal set up what is considered the world’s first motoring competition.
It was promoted as a Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux (Competition for Horseless Carriages). One hundred and two competitors paid a 10-franc entrance fee. The Grand Prix motor racing finds its roots in this type of motorsport events and competitions. From simple rides from a town to another, the competition evolved into endurance tests: the drivers and the cars were put under tests. Unfortunately, these events were often unsafe for drivers and spectators who stood near the open roads to watch.
In 1900, the owner of the New York Herald and the International Herald Tribune designed the Gordon Bennett Cup.
James Gordon Bennet, Jr. desired to create an international event that would push automobile manufacturers to improve and design better cars.
The rules were that each country was allowed a maximum of 3 cars in the race and every one of them had to be fully built in the country represented.
In this event, racing colors were established to distinguish the countries involved in the race.
Italy was given the color red, Blu went to France, Green to Britain and white to Germany that in 1934 decided to abandon any paint and leave the cars racing in their silver metallic color as they thought the weight of the paint affected the car.
These colors are still seen today, for example, since the 1920s Italian race cars of Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lancia, and later Ferrari and Abarth have been painted in Rosso Corsa.
It is not up until the 1950s that the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) inaugurated the first Formula One race which is still called Grand Prix.
The name comes from the Latin word “formula” which means "form, draft, contract, regulation”. In fact, Formula One had and still has today, a set of rules that participants’ cars and the participants themselves must conform to.
The drivers who made history
There had been many drivers and cars in the history of the F1. We picked some of the legendary competitors of this amazing sport.
Undoubtedly one of the world’s best drivers in the world. According to the Official Formula 1 Page, he holds the record for most World Championship titles (7), most Grand Prix wins (91), most fastest laps (77) and most races won in a single season (13). He attended the last race in his career in the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and finished in 14th place.
When mentioning Austrian driver Niki Lauda, we cannot forget his rival, British driver James Hunt. The two have been in a personal rivalry from 1973 to 1979.
Niki Lauda, who was given the nickname of “The Rat” due to his teeth, is famously known for the car crash he survived in 1976 at the German Grand Prix in Nürburgring. His Ferrari 312T2 crashed on a wall and burst into flames: he came close to death after inhaling hot toxic fumes and suffering severe burns. Surprisingly, even when the doctors almost gave up on hope, he recovered and went back to compete only 6 weeks after his injury. He is the only driver in F1’s history to have been champion for the two most successful car constructors: Ferrari and McLaren.
Straight from Brazil, Senna has been considered as the most influential Formula One driver of all time. He was recognized for his qualifying speed over one lap, and from 1989 until 2006 he held the record for most pole positions.
During his career, he was accepted in the McLaren-Honda team after the approval of French driver Alain Prost.
From 1987 until 2001 Prost held the record for most Grand Prix victories: Michael Schumacher surpassed Prost's total of 51 victories at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix. In 1999, Prost received the World Sports Awards of the Century in the motorsport category.
Juan Manuel Fangio
Juan Manuel Fangio was an Argentine racing car driver. He was nicknamed El Chueco or El Maestro, and dominated the first decade of Formula One racing, winning the World Drivers' Championship.
In 1958, after the Cuban Dictator Batista established the non-Formula 1 Cuban Grand Prix, two unmasked gunmen of Fidel Castro entered the Hotel Lincoln in Havana and kidnapped Fangio to attract the world’s attention on the rebellion. He was released after 29h.
The Times has places Clark as the top of a list of the greatest Formula One drivers. He was a British F1 racing driver from Scotland who won two World Championships. He was associated with the brand Lotus. At the time of his death, aged 32, in 1968 in Hockenheim, he has won more Grand Prix races and achieved more pole positions than any other driver.
On our website, you can find a category dedicated to cars and you can buy historic vintage rare photos of the best moments in the history of this sport!
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