The Fifties and Sixties
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 lAutomobile (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.