In the early 1970s Bernie Ecclestone reorganized the management of Formula One’s commercial rights, turning the sport into an international billion-dollar business. In 1971 he invested in the Brabham team and so gained a seat on the Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA) and in 1978 he was voted president. Until Ecclestone, circuit owners controlled many aspects of the game; he persuaded the teams to manipulate their worth and the value of negotiating as a coordinated unit.
In 1979 FISA (Federation Internationale du Sport Automobile) was established and almost immediately clashed with FOCA in terms of revenues and regulations. Matters deteriorated to the lengthen FOCA boycotted a race and threatened a breakaway of the sport. In return FISA removed its sanction from races via the 1981 Concorde Agreement.
In 1980 Alan Jones and the Williams team dominated the sport and in 1981 Nelson Piquet won the title by one point with victory at the U.S Grand Prix. 1982 competition was centered on a rift between Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi but unfortunate Villeneuve was killed at Zolder. Two months later, in practice for the German Grand Prix, Pironi was severely injured that he could never race again.
From then on turbos, which first introduced in 1977, came to rule the roost. Piquet won his second title in 1983 with Brabham, and Lauda’s half-point win in 1984 heralded the beginning of a period of dominance by McLaren in which they won the drivers’ title seven times out of eight years with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. The team’s zenith became dominant in 1988 when they won 15 of the 16 races but for the next season turbos were banned, and the relationship between the two drivers went bad rapidly.
To combat the phenomenal power of cars, restrictions were established and eventually turbochargers were prohibited altogether in 1989. In the 1980s electronic drivers aids started to emerge and by the early 1990s semi-automatic gearboxes and traction control became a natural progression. The battle between new technology and the expectation of the FIA to counter accusations that the drivers were less relevant than the boffins, raged throughout the next two decades.