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Featured Image by Takayuki Suzuki on Flickr

Are you new to Motorsport? Curious about the differences between Racing Series? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Ahead of the resumption of motorsport worldwide, we’ve decided to produce articles introducing the various aspects of Motorsport to our readers, with our series, An Introduction to Motorsport & An Introduction to Sports Car Racing. This Article covers the FIA Formula 2 Championship.

Formula 2 is the top step of FIA’s European Single-Seater Racing Ladder, the FIA Global Pathway. Most casual viewers of the Championship may think that the Championship started in either 2017 or 2005 which was the first year of the GP2 series. (In 2017, the GP2 Series was rebranded as the Formula 2 Championship) However, the FIA Formula 2 Championship has its origins dating back to the late 1960s…

A Brief History of Formula 2

European Formula 2 (1967-1984)

The championship has its roots in the European Formula 2 Trophy which began in 1967, with Jacky Ickx as its inaugural champion. An interesting thing to note however, is that while Ickx won the championship, he wasn’t the most successful driver that season. This title goes to Jochen Rindt, who won 5 races, to Ickx’s 2, but he was not eligible to score any points, as he was a graded driver. On the subject of driver grading, previously, it was common for F1 drivers to cross over to race in Formula 2, and as such, the FIA had introduced a grading scheme to allow for young up-and-coming drivers to compete in the championship, while still allowing for F1 drivers to cross over.

In 1973, the F2 Trophy was rebranded as the European Formula 2 Championship. Towards the end of the championship’s life, in 1983-84 it became dominated by the works Ralt-Honda team, who won the final 2 drivers’ and teams championships.

International F3000 (1985-2004)

1985 saw the introduction of the FIA European F3000 Championship, replacing the former European Formula 2 Championship. The name “F3000” came from regulations, which stated the engines used were limited to a Maximum Capacity of 3000cc (or 3 Litres). Christian Danner would take the title in the inaugural season, while in 1986, the championship became the FIA International F3000 Championship.

Unknown to many at the time, Danner would be the first in a long line of drivers to win the International F3000 Championship, that would fail to make an impact on Formula 1. Danner would only score 4 points in his F1 career, scoring no points in his 2 races with Zakspeed in 1985, 1 point from his second stint in 1986-1987 with Zakspeed, Osella and Arrows, and 3 points from his 1989 return with Rial, departing the team midway after failing to qualify for a number of races. Following that, he would then turn to Touring Cars, drawing the curtain on his short-lived Formula One career.

1996 marked the first year the championship would become a full-on spec series, with all teams running a Lola T96/50, paired with a detuned and reengineered Judd V8, by Zytek, and the cars would run with Avon Tyres. This was done to curb the rising costs of competition in the category.

1999 would also mark the start of the championships’ shift towards a support series for Formula One, as the championship cut the Pau Grand Prix, and the Mediterranean Grand Prix from the calendar. However, this would prove insufficient, and as car grids plummeted to just 10 full season drivers in 2003, the championship ran its final season in 2004.

GP2 Series (2005-2016)

In January 2004, Renault announced it would run a Formula 3000-level series to be called GP2 at every Grand Prix in 2005. The FIA has responded by saying that the Renault GP2 cars can run during FIA Formula 1 World Championship weekends, subject to making the necessary commercial arrangements with Formula One Management, the commercial rights holder of Formula 1 but adding that the FIA has not yet received any proposed technical or sporting regulations for the planned series.

In 2005, the GP2 Series began, as a support series for Formula 1, with 12 teams, and a 12 round calendar, with all races run in support of F1, with the exception of the final round at Bahrain. All teams would run the same car, the Dallara GP2/05, paired with a 4.0 Liter Renault Badged Mecachrome V8 and Bridgestone grooved tires.

Each round, except for Monaco, would consist of 2 races, a Feature Race, held on Saturday, with a mandatory pitstop and a shorter Sprint Race held on Sunday. The Sprint Race would have optional pitstops, and a reverse grid for the top 8 finishers of the feature race. Nico Rosberg would be the inaugural champion for the series. In 2006, the championship would switch to slick tyres, making 2005 the only year in which it would use grooved tyres.

On the 10th of March 2017, it was announced that the GP2 series would become branded as the FIA Formula 2 Championship.

The FIA Formula 2 Championship:

Formula 2 features 11 teams, namely:
Prema – 1 Drivers’ Championship (2017)
ART – 2 Drivers’ Championship (2018, 2019)
Charouz
Carlin – 1 Teams’ Championship (2018)
DAMS – 1 Teams’ Championship (2019)
HWA
Hitech
Trident
Campos Racing
MP Motorsport
UNI-Virtuosi – 1 Teams’ Championship (2017, as Russian Time)

F2 has carried over the majority GP2 elements, including the weekend structure, and spec car approach.

Car – Dallara F2 2018

#2 Russian Time Dallara F2 2018 – Image by Takayuki Suzuki on Flickr

Dallara F2 2018, equipped with the Halo cockpit protection system, fitted with 18 Inch Pirelli P Zero dry tyres, and Pirelli Cinturato Wet Tyres. Previously, the cars were fitted with 13 inch tyres. The car is equipped with the Mecachrome V634 Turbocharged V6 engine, which is a development of the engine utilised in the Dallara GP3/16, the normally aspirated Mecachrome V634.

Tyre Allocations

F2 uses 4 tyre compounds, namely: supersoft, soft, medium and hard. Before each race weekend, 2 of compounds are picked as the “prime” and “option” compounds. 2 sets of Option and 3 Sets of Prime tyres are issued, alongside with 3 sets of wet tyres. Formula 2 does not use intermediate tyres.

Weekend Structure

Friday: 1 Practice session (45 minutes for all drivers) & Qualifying (30 minutes, for all drivers to determine the grid for Feature Race)

Saturday: 1 Feature race, with Grid determined by Qualifying and any penalties issued prior to the race of 170km, with a 1 hour limit. The exception is at Monaco and Hungaroring, where the distance is 140km and 160km respectively.

A mandatory pit stop must be carried out, and both the Prime and Option compound is to be utilised in the race. During the pitstop, at least two wheels must be changed on the car, and at least one wheel on each side of the car must always be on the car, and excluding the lollipop man, only six people may work on the car.

The mandatory pit stop is only considered fulfilled, if the drivers pits after completing 6 laps, or the driver is already in the pit entry or pit lane at the time when the VSC is deployed. If the driver requires a stop-go penalty, this would not count as a mandatory pitstop. In addition, the mandatory pitstop cannot be carried out on the last lap of the race, unless the race is suspended. In the event of a suspended race that is not restarted, drivers who have not stopped will have 30 seconds added to their finishing time.

Sunday: Sprint Race. This is run over 120km or 45 minutes (except for Monaco where the race is run over 100km), and the grid order is set by the finishing positions, with the top 8 finishers of the feature race reserved. No mandatory pit stop is required.

Points System

Feature Race (Saturday)

Position 1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th  7th  8th  9th  10th  Pole FL 
Points2518151210864214   2

Sprint Race (Sunday)

Position 1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th  7th  8th  FL 
Points151210864212

Note: Fastest Lap points are awarded only to drivers in the top 10 finishing places in both the Feature & Sprint race. In the event where the Fastest Lap of the race is set by someone outside the top 10, the fastest lap point will be issued to the driver who set the fastest lap of the race within the top 10 standings.

Calendar

RoundCircuitFeature raceSprint race
1 Red Bull Ring, Spielberg4 July5 July
2Red Bull Ring, Spielberg11 July12 July
3 Hungaroring, Mogyoród18 July19 July
4 Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone1 August2 August
5 Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone8 August9 August
6 Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmeló15 August16 August
7 Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot29 August30 August
8 Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Monza5 September6 September

Titles

Drivers’ Championship
Anthoine Hubert Award (2019 Onwards): This award is given to the highest-placed driver without previous Formula 2 experience.

Teams’ Championship

Driver Regulations

Each team will be permitted to use four drivers. Changes must be notified to the Promoter no later than two days prior to the Event at which the new driver wishes to compete. Any new driver may score points in the Championship. This, however, comes with some caveats.

The sporting regulations state: No winner of a FIA Formula 2 Championship may participate in the two successive Championships. Previously, the Sporting Regulations stated winners of the FIA Formula 2 Championship/GP2 Series were forbidden to participate in the championship.

Drivers may only change from one team to another if:
a) They have been released by their original team.
b) Their original team nominates another driver.

No driver nominated to race by a team participating in the FIA Formula One World Championship will be permitted to participate in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in the same event. In other words, buschwacking is not allowed.

Superlicense Points

Finishing Position (Drivers’ Championship1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10th
Super License Points awarded4040403020108643

A single-use Free-Practice only super license is also available to those competing in F2, after the completion of either six races in Formula 2, or 25 Super Licence points in eligible championships during the previous three years.

How to Watch

The FIA Formula 2 Championship is available globally on F1TV, and on selected broadcasters.

Expect to see some thrilling, edge-of-your-seat action as the leading lights in the junior ranks of single seater racing duke it out on track to prove they are the best of the rising stars and prove that they can be the future champions of Formula One.

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