Formula One (also Formula 1 or F1) is the highest class of single-seat auto racing that is sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The FIA Formula One World Championship has been one of the premier forms of racing around the world since its inaugural season in 1950. The "formula", designated in the name, refers to a set of rules, to which all participants' cars must conform. A Formula One season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix (from French, meaning "grand prizes"), which are held worldwide on purpose-built circuits and public roads.
The results of each race are evaluated using a points system to determine two annual World Championships, one for drivers, one for constructors. The racing drivers are required to be holders of valid Super Licences, the highest class of racing licence issued by the FIA. The races are required to be held on tracks graded 1 (formerly A), the highest grade a track can receive by the FIA. Most events are held in rural locations on purpose-built tracks, but there are several events in city centres throughout the world, with the Monaco Grand Prix being the most well-known.
Formula One cars are the fastest road course racing cars in the world, owing to very high cornering speeds achieved through the generation of large amounts of aerodynamic downforce. The cars underwent major changes in 2017, with wider front and rear wings and wider tires resulting in cornering forces closing in on 8g and top speeds of up to approximately 375 km/h (233 mph). The hybrid engines are currently limited in performance to a maximum of 15,000 rpm and the cars are very dependent on electronics—although traction control and other driving aids have been banned since 2008—and also on aerodynamics, suspension, and tyres.
While Europe is the sport's traditional base, the championship is truly global with 11 of the 21 races in the 2018 season taking place outside of Europe.
With the cost of designing and building mid-tier cars being of the order of $120 million, Formula One's economic effect and creation of jobs are significant, and its financial and political battles are widely reported. Its high profile and popularity have created a major merchandising environment, which has resulted in large investments from sponsors and budgets in the hundreds of millions for the constructors. On 8 September 2016, it was announced that Liberty Media had agreed to buy Delta Topco, the company that controls Formula One, from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for $4.4 billion in cash, stock and convertible debt. On 23 January 2017, it was confirmed that Liberty Media had completed its $8 billion acquisition of Delta Topco.
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