The Fifties and Sixties

Pit stops in the 1950s were far more leisurely than today's perfectly-rehearsed affairs. © Allianz Bob Gerard (GBR) ERA R4A about to retire from the race. Non Championship Formula One, Festival of Britain Trophy, Goodwood, England, 26 March 1951. © Duerden/Sutton Second place finisher Jim Clark (GBR) Lotus 25 leads the field away from pole at the start of the race. Formula One World Championship, German Grand Prix, Nurburgring, 4 August 1963. World © Phipps/Sutton Graham Hill (GBR) climbs from the wreckage of his Lotus 49B, his rear wing having collapsed on the ninth lap. The accident illustrated the worthiness of Armco barriers and the inherent dangers of movable high aerofoils, which were banned shortly thereafter. Spanish Grand Prix, Montjuich Park, 4 May 1969. World © Sutton Motorsport Images

High safety standards are one of the trademarks of modern Formula One racing. However, the road to get there was long, as our chronological summary shows. In Part One we look at the first two decades of the sport's history...

The pioneering heroes of Formula One racing were daring men who sought adventure and speed. By the time the sport became fashionable, this had not really changed much. During the following years, however, safety steadily became more of a concern, with the ongoing pursuit of ever more elaborate safety measures.

May 13, 1950:
- The first Formula One race is held at Silverstone in England. The cars were designed purely for speed, with front engines and drum brakes. A fascinating experience without medical back-up or any form of safety net.

- Disc brakes are introduced - and a relocation takes place - the Australian Jack Brabham, in his Cooper, is the first Formula One competitor to drive a rear-engine vehicle.

In the early Sixties the first safety measures are introduced in Formula One racing…

- Engine capacity is reduced from 2.5 to 1.5 litres.

- Flag signals are introduced.

1963 to 1965:
- Vehicle fire prevention is advanced by improvements in fuel-tank construction.
- The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) assumes responsibility for safety on racing circuits.
- Helmets and overalls become mandatory. Drivers are required to wear fireproof suits and unbreakable full-visor helmets.
- Cockpits are restructured to allow the drivers to get out of the car more quickly.

- A maximum car height and chassis width is introduced.