I've been playing Fantasy F1 games with colleagues at work since about 2001. The first year, we played a game that was run by one of the young apprentices. The results were published on our company intranet after each race and we'd all paid £1 to enter, giving a prize fund of about £15.
The following year, we had to run our own competition on an excel spreadsheet. It worked well, but the following year we found a website where you could set up your own league and the results would be uploaded for you. Much easier! It didn't turn out like that though as the results were sometimes not updated until a month or 2 after the race. Despite winning the competition that year, some of the excitement experienced in previous years was missing. I loved coming into work on a Monday morning after a grand prix and finding out how well your team had done. So I decided to launch Fantasy Formula 1.
I'd created a couple of personal websites before, so I thought it wouldn't be too difficult. I had to learn about PHP, CSS and MySQL, but there's so much info on the web that I picked up the basics pretty quickly.
Initially, the site was meant for us to play our own game, but the more I worked on it, I realised that it could easily be used by anyone. So I introduced private leagues and worked on the rules, the points system and the pricing. Then about 3 weeks before the 2005 season began, I launched the site and started to promote it amongst friends and family.
I was really impressed when over 100 people signed up to play.
The 2005 season was really exciting with the overall winner being decided on the last race of the season. The long term leaders were 'pipped at the post'.
The overall leader changed many times during the 2006 season and the eventual winner pulled away for the last few races. We had over 280 teams playing. Here's how the site has grown since then:
2005: 110 teams
2006: 284 teams
2007: 458 teams
2008: 1138 teams
2009: 7066 teams
2010: 8817 teams
2011: 10160 teams
2012: 10030 teams
I introduced a lot on new features during the 2006 season. Mainly, the site is now automatically updated with the race results without any input from myself. This means that users can find out how their team has done within an hour of the race ending. The rules to the game have remained virtually unchanged since it began as they worked very well so far.