History of the World Championship

F1H20 powerboat racers lined up at start pontoon

The four decades of the World Championship have witnessed considerable change and evolution; the seventies and eighties saw multiple promoters and two giant corporations of the sport OMC and Mercury vying for supremacy to be the pinnacle of the sport.

OMC were touting their 3.5 litre V8 package that became known as the OZ class, Mercury pushing their 2.0 litre engine and called the ON class, the disparity in power would soon lead to bitter wrangling and infighting amongst competitors.

The split came in 1981, FONDA was formed running the ON class engine with the OMC backed PRO ONE run series running the OZ class engine, both rival Championships claiming the right to use the title Formula 1, a dispute settled by the sport’s governing body the UIM later that year awarding the OZ class the accolade of Formula 1 World Series.

1984 saw the beginning of yet another twist as safety became a major concern with engine development and increasing power of the V8s taking its tragic toll and signalled the slow demise of the OZ class internationally, ending in 1986.

The door was now opening for the existing FONDA World Grand Prix Series to reinvent itself. From 1987 to 1989 there was no official Formula 1 Championship, and with no challenger, the UIM reinstated the Formula 1 category to World Championship status and in 1990 the FONDA World Grand Prix Series became the Formula 1 World Championship, Mercury’s 2.0 litre engine the preferred power-plant of the time, the Mercury 2.5 litre engine coming in in 2000 and used today.