Formula One, abbreviated to F1, is the highest class of open wheeled auto racing defined by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), motor sport's world governing body. The "formula" in the name is a set of rules which all participants and cars must meet. The F1 world championship season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix, held usually on purpose-built circuits, and in a few cases on closed city streets. The results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for drivers and one for constructors.
Over the history of Formula One the race cars have evolved a great deal. Modern Formula One cars are single seaters with an open cockpit, they are mid-engined and open wheeled. Made largely out of carbon fibre composites, the chassis is extremely stiff and strong but very light. Formula One cars including driver and fluids weighs only 605kg, this is the minimum weight set by the regulations. The cars are often so light that they need to ballaster up to meet this minimum requirement, taking advantage of this the teams place most of this extra weight at the bottom of the chassis to make the centre of gravity as low as possible. Racing at speeds of up to 200mph and cornering up to 5Gs, the cars' performance depends greatly on the aerodynamics, electronics, suspension and tires.
Formula One's traditional centre is Europe which is where around half of the races take place, and which is also where all the teams are based. In recent years Formula One has expanded significantly with Grand Prix now held all over the world. This has resulted in a drop of events for Europe and Americas in favour of Bahrain, China, Malaysia, India and Singapore.
Formula One circuits usually feature a stretch of straight road on which the starting grid is located. The pit lane is normally situated next to the starting grid, and is where the cars refuel and change tires during the race. The rest of the circuit layout widely varies, but in most cases the circuit direction will run clockwise. Of the current circuits, most are constructed for competition use, but some of the circuits can be completely or partially laid out on public roads.
Some of the circuits used in Formula One include Silverstone which currently holds the British Grands Prix, one of the oldest continuously staged Formula One world championship Grands Prix. Other circuits are the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy, Circuit de Monaco, Hungaroring in Hungary and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada.
In the early 2000s Formula One went through a difficult period with viewing figures dropping and loss of interest due to the dominance of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. In 2005 after Michael Schumacher retired and Ferrari lost dominance, viewing figures started to see sign of improvement.