Earlier this year, at the height of the Mosleygate came a surprising piece of news from FIA – plans to revive the Formula 2 series. Thanks to the timing of the announcement it was almost immediately considered to be just another shot fired in the Bernie vs. Max war. Thanks to the planned low budget (£195,000 per car) it was also almost immediately branded as impossible. Things have however moved ahead. Jonathan Palmer’s MotorSport Vision has been selected to run the series and the plans for 2009 season were announced last weekend including the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship calendar (see the bottom of this post).
Many people are a bit confused with this Formula 2 thing especially when there already exists rather successful Formula 1 feeder series – GP2. So what are the differences between current GP2 series and the planned Formula 2 championship ?
GP2 versus Formula 2
Who is behind it:
GP2 is a baby of Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore
Formula Two is a baby of Max Mosley and FIA
Where and when is it run:
GP2 races (having the same promoter as F1) are run during the Formula One race weekends as the main support event. This season (2008) there were GP2 races during Spanish, Turkish, Monaco, French, British, German, Hungarian, European, Belgian and Italian Grand Prix weekends. (In 2008 GP2 run also GP2 Asia Series in China, Bahrain, Malaysia and Bahrain again).
Formula 2 at least in 2009 will not be part of Formula 1 weekends, it is expected to be part of the FIA World Touring Car Championship weekends. The planned race tracks are Valencia, Brno, Spa-Francorchamps, Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Oschersleben, Magny Cours, Monza. There are few current F1 tracks included but on dates other than F1 races.
GP2 runs 2 races each race weekend (one on Saturday, another on Sunday), total 20 races. Formula 2 also plans to run 2 races per event in 2009, total 16 races.
What cars are used:
GP2 is a specs car series. All the chassis are supplied by Dallara, engines by Renault (Mecachrome), tyres by Bridgestone, electronics by Magneti Marelli, breaks by Hitco and Brembo.
The Renault supplied GP2 engines are 4 litres V8 engines producing around 580hp. The cars can reach top speeds of around 320 km/h. 2008 GP2 chassis passed 2007 Formula 1 crash tests.
Formula 2 will be specs series too. The cars will be built by Williams. They are currently being designed by a six person team from Williams F1 lead by Patrick Head. The aim is “to deliver a well engineered, safe car for the drivers that is not too difficult to work on or expensive to operate“. (Sir Frank Williams).
The F2 cars will feature a sophisticated carbon fibre composite survival cell chassis and will be built to comply with the 2005 FIA F1 safety regulations.
The F2 car will be powered by a specifically developed new turbocharged Audi race engine, producing a base 400bhp with 450bhp available for a six second period that can be used ten times in each race to promote overtaking.
How much it costs:
Running a GP2 team is said to cost somewhere in the region of EUR1 million,few hundred thousand more or ls depending teams (although there is no cap). I am not sure how accurate this figure is, but that would make it around EUR500,000 per car (around GPB400,000)
Formula 2 expects to run at cost GPB195,000 per car.
What is the point:
Both GP2 and Formula 2 are run (are to be run) as feeder series for Formula 1. (click here for overview how did it go in Formula 1 for the previous winners of F2, F3000 and GP2). There has been talk of an F1 test with Williams for the future F2 champion.
Top 3 drivers from GP2 (or GP2 Asia) series receive the FIA Superlicense that is required to race in Formula 1.
The FIA World Motor Sport Council has ruled on October 7 2008 that the top 3 finishers in the new FIA Formula Two Championship will qualify for an FIA Superlicence in 2010.
Expected 2009 GP2 calendar (based on provisional F1 calendar):
10 May – Spain
24 May – Monaco
21 June – Great Britain
28 June – France
12 July – Germany (Nurburgring)
26 July – Hungary
9 August – Turkey
23 August – Europe (Valencia)
6 September – Italy
13 September – Belgium
FIA Formula Two Championship 2009 Calendar
31 May – Valencia, Spain
21 June – Brno, Czech Republic
28 June – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
19 July – Brands Hatch, UK
16 August – Donington Park, UK
30 August – Oschersleben, Germany
20 September – Magny Cours, France
4 October – Monza, Italy
Photo: Red Bull/GEPA