Formula One (also Formula 1 or F1) is the highest class of single-seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and owned by the Formula One Group. 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" in the name refers to the set of rules to which all participants' cars must conform. A Formula One season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix (French for "grand prizes" or "great 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, the other for constructors. Drivers must hold 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 rating issued 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, allowing wider front and rear wings, and wider tyres, resulting in cornering forces closing in on 8g and top speeds of up to approximately 375 km/h (230 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 Europe.
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