We are frequently told that Formula One is at the cutting edge of technology, but that has been true only occasionally, most recently with new heights being reached in the thermal efficiency of engines. This is something we cannot see and how it is achieved is something that not all of us can understand. Most innovation has come from other categories; slick tires, for example, were used in drag racing and karting years before they appeared in F1.
The first Formula One, in 1948, was not leading edge, it was a pragmatic compromise. Germany was banned from international motor sport until 1950 and what remained were various pre-war voiteurettes and a few—mainly French—Grand Prix cars which is why the formula was 4,500-cc, normally aspirated or 1,500-cc supercharged and that was the entire rule book except that cars should be painted in the national livery of their entrants.
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