Start, Losail International Circuit, 2023

F1 seasons

The world championship has been held 74 times since it began in 1950.

1950-1958: Fangio’s five

Juan Manuel Fangio won the drivers championship five times in the first eight years it was held before retiring in 1958.

Ferrari and Alberto Ascari dominated the 1952 and 1953 championships which were run to Formula Two rules.

1950 – Farina comes first
1951 – Fangio’s first title, Ferrari’s first victory
1952 – Ascari dominates
1953 – Ferrari on top again
1954 – Fangio wins with two teams
1955 – Mercedes go out on top
1956 – Collins hands Fangio his fourth title
1957 – Fangio’s final championship
1958 – Hawthorn takes tragic title

1959-1965: Engine revolutions

Jack Brabham’s back-to-back title wins for Cooper in 1959 and 1960 heralded the arrival of rear-engined cars. He went on to become the only driver to win the championship in a car he built himself.

A change in engine formula in 1961, restricting capacity to 1.5 litres, leads to much smaller cars.

1959 – Brabham ushers in a new era
1960 – Cooper on top
1961 – Ferrari master the new formula
1962 – Hill wins title for BRM
1963 – Clark crushes the competition
1964 – Surtees takes surprise title
1965 – Clark back on top
1966 – Brabham captures third championship

1966-1973: The Cosworth era

After the ‘return to power’ in 1966, as three-litre engines made a comeback, a new engine designed by Cosworth changed the face of the sport.

The DFV was soon being used by all bar a few of the teams. All the drivers listed above won their titles in DFV-powered cars.

1967 – The DFV arrives
1968 – Hill champion again
1969 – Stewart puts Matra on top
1970 – Posthumous champion
1971 – Tyrrell hit the top
1972 – Fittipaldi grabs title for Lotus
1973 – Stewart retires as champion

1974-1977: Ferrari’s renaissance

Ferrari reacted to the sustained success of the DFV-engined cars by mounting a comeback in the mid-seventies.

Niki Lauda ended their 11-year championship drought but a fiery accident at the Nurburgring cost him a second title.

After winning again for them in 1977 he fell out with Enzo Ferrari and left the team.

1974 – McLaren’s first championship
1975 – Lauda leads Ferrari to glory
1976 – Hunt grabs title from injured Lauda
1977 – Lauda leaves Ferrari after second title

1978-1982: Ground effect

Colin Chapman and Lotus pioneered another technical innovation that changed the face of racing. Ground effect aerodynamic increased car performance and cornering speeds.

It became the focal point of increasingly bitter rows between the sport’s governing body, led by Jean-Marie Balestre, and a coalition of the teams, headed by Brabham’s Bernie Ecclestone. This provoked a series of public rows and even race cancellations.

1978 – Andretti wins title amid sadness
1979 – Battle of the Ferraris
1980 – Jones is champion for Williams
1981 – Piquet seizes title from faltering Reutemann
1982 – Rosberg claims title in controversial season

1983-1987: Turbo power

Formula One engine output peaked at 1400bhp in the 1980s with monstrously powerful 1.5 litre V6 units supplied by major car manufacturers such as BMW, Porsche and Honda.

The FIA tried repeatedly to limit turbo power before banning them outright. Four different drivers took titles with turbo power. In 1986, four drivers from three teams chased for the championship, but Honda increasingly held sway towards the end of the turbo era.

1983 – Turbo champion
1984 – The closest title ever
1985 – Prost first at last
1986 – Mansell denied
1987 – War of the Williams

1989-1993: Senna vs Prost

Turbos were finally banned after 1988 but McLaren duo Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost remained the team to beat.

After a tense 1988 their internecine rivalry became all-out war, culminating in two title-deciding crashes involving the pair. Prost was dropped by Ferrari but returned to edge Mansell out of the dominant Williams at the end of 1992, and took a final title before retiring for good at the end of 1993.

1988 – McLaren’s zenith
1989 – The greatest rivalry
1990 – Senna’s revenge
1991 – Prost walks away
1992 – Mansell writes new records
1993 – Prost the champion, Senna the hero

1994-1999: The Rise of Schumacher

With Mansell and Prost gone, the 1994 title looked like Senna’s for the taking.

But he was killed during a horrific weekend in Imola which also claims the life of Roland Ratzenberger. The rest of the 1990s was characterised by repeated attempts to slow the cars on grounds of safety, and the inexorable rise of Schumacher to claim two titles at Benetton, before being denied on three occasions at Ferrari.

1994 – Tragedy and controversy
1995 – Glimpses of greatness
1996 – Hill’s reward
1997 – Michael’s moment of madness
1998 – Regulation revolution
1999 – Last man standing

2000-2004: Ferrari Domination

Ferrari finally saw one of their drivers crowned champion for the first time since 1979. Michael Schumacher’s 2000 title win heralded a new era of the longest domination of the sport by a single team.

Rules changes became more frequent and more drastic, now with the twin aims of improving the racing as well as safety.

2000 – Hakkinen vanquished
2001 – The new generation arrives
2002 – Ferrari’s tainted perfection
2003 – Michelin denied
2004 – Bridgestone’s year
2005 – The fast and the fragile

2006-2013: The V8 era

2006 – Alonso versus Schumacher
2007 – The courtroom championship
2008 – Won on the last lap
2009 – One-off winners
2010 – Vettel’s late charge
2011 – Unstoppable Vettel
2012 – Vettel’s hat-trick
2013 – Red Bull sign off V8 era in style

2014-present: The hybrid revolution

2014 – Hamilton hangs on for second title
2015 – Mercedes raise the bar
2016 – Rosberg quits while he’s ahead
2017 – Hamilton back on top
2018 – Hamilton denies Vettel again
2019 – Mercedes’ rout goes on
2020 – Hamilton equals Schumacher amid pandemic
2021 – Tainted finale sours down-to-the-wire fight


2022 – Verstappen’s crushing start to F1’s new era
2023 – Verstappen hits peak dominance
2024 – Season in progress