The new F2 car was launched today in the F1 paddock and made history as the first racing car to be launched with a halo device.
This wasn’t the main talking point, however. Rather it was the positioning of F2 as the key final step on “the road to Formula 1”.
The car will be used for the next three seasons starting in 2018 and as such had to be launched with a halo and the final car will have one integrated into the chassis construction, as with Formula 1 cars.
The car was presented by the FIA’s Charlie Whiting, F1 managing director, Motorsports Ross Brawn, F2 series co-ordinator Bruno Michel and Pirelli’s Mario Isola. The fact that it took place in the middle of the F1 paddock as a joint F1 Management, FIA presentation again spoke volumes about the level of co-operation between the two organisations in evidence today, compared to the Bernie Ecclestone era.
The idea is for F2 teams to be able to have a value, much as the new owners are hoping will happen with F1 teams in the new way of thinking. Cost control and rules aimed at making the series more competitive are common themes in the approach of Ross Brawn’s team at F1 and the FIA’s technical team, with regard to both series.
The more aligned F2 – and ultimately GP3 when it is rebranded F3 in the future – is with F1, the more opportunities there are commercially across series for sponsors and partners. The journey to F1 becomes more of a story than it is today, goes the thinking and that is something that can be monetized collectively, providing a ‘halo effect’ if you’ll pardon the expression, to the lower series.
Runaway 2017 F2 championship leader Charles Leclerc was on hand and expressed interest in the steering wheel and front wing detail in particular; the front wing has multiple elements more like an F1 car and the steering wheel has more functions than this year’s car, again something closer to what an F1 car has. THe car has an updated Electronic Control Unit.
Other F1 inspired changes include the introduction of Virtual Safety Car for certain types of incidents and a DRS system more closely aligned with F1. Currently F2 has only the Safety Car.
The car will have a new engine, a 3.4 litre turbo changed Mecachrome engine which gives 620hp at 8,750 rpm.
Dimensionally it is a good preparation too: at 5224mm, the F1 car is actually longer than a current F1 car and the wheelbase is comparable to the current F1 Mercedes at 3135mm.
“The plan for a more structured junior formula ladder is designed to feature cars that better prepare drivers for the next step. For F2 that means we needed a car that will not only educate, but will also allow the drivers that are most ready for Formula One to shine brightest,” said Whiting.
Currently the series below F2 is GP3, still using the same name as under the Ecclestone regime. Integrating this into an FIA naming system is a slightly more complex as the FIA F3 series is already a successful series that has produced Max Verstappen, Estaban Ocon, Lance Stroll and Leclerc. But ultimately the confluence of the two series will take place under the F3 banner.
What do you think of the latest development in the F1 pathway? And of this further evidence of the co-operation between the FIA and the new owners of F1? Leave your comments in the section below