German Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Mercedes GP talks to reporters during a press conference at the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi, India on 27 October 2011. Image Credit: EPA

Dubai: Seven glorious decades of speed, with its fair share of heroes and villains. There have been triumphs and tragedies, and there has been speed and suspense.

During the past 70 years, the sport of Formula 1 has had 33 legendary world champions, 108 Grand Prix-winning drivers and a total of 150 epic F1 teams.

To mark 70 years of the sport, Formula 1 has kicked upon an innovative way to thank its fans and supporters while ushering in its landmark birthday.

Along with access to its 70th anniversary content over the rest of this week, Formula 1 has plans to release a thrilling new F1 70th short documentary next week. This will include some rare clips and footage of the first-ever F1 race held at Silverstone in 1950. In the meantime, some of the past and present legends have saluted fans in a video.

Nearly two weeks back, Formula One embarked on a quest to find the most influential person in F1 history. The process began by asking an expert panel to come up with 32 names of those people who have had a big influence on the sport in some way during its 70-year existence.

It started with eight names in each of the four categories — drivers, team bosses, technical innovators and game changers. Then over a series of rounds, fans were asked to vote on them head-to-head until the 32 names whittled down to just two: Bernie Ecclestone and Michael Schumacher.

Bernie Ecclestone.

One is the most decorated driver in the sport’s history, the other is the man who transformed F1 from a minority racing series into the multibillion dollar industry that it is today.

Ultimately, people were unanimous in their choice with seven-time world champion Schumacher — who sadly now lies fighting for his life following a freak accident during a skiing trip in Switzerland in 2013 — as the winner with 61 per cent of the votes compared to Ecclestone’s 39 per cent.

In Schumacher’s case, it was simply about the whole package. No other driver could have carried such sway and that was about much more than just his driving ability.

His standing in the sport is about more than merely the record-breaking colossus of a racing driver that he was. His power and influence was derived from that core, but extended way beyond it.

He was willing and able to use his stature as a driving wonder to direct his own destiny. He quite specifically made himself more than just an employee and it was this which led him to not only accept Ferrari’s offer to join after his double titles at Benetton, but to do so on his terms, bringing with him the architects of his Benetton success — Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne.

F1 has also tied up with Automobilist for fans to have access to special posters on the sport. Envisioned as a tribute to the sport, and an offering to loyal F1 fans and supporters across generations, the posters — that have been made available in the F1 Print Store — combine the spirit of winners past with the potential of racing yet to come.