By: Sergio Álvarez
Over the last few years, things have stayed excessively quiet in Formula 2 from the political and technical points of view, don’t you think so? However, the current F2 chassis is already seven years old, and the Support Series paddock awaits with huge expectation the unveiling of the new car from 2018 onwards. This event will take place at the Monza round, and Iberianmph hopes to be there to bring you the latest about the future of the category.
F2’s ringmaster, Bruno Michel, stated on July that “the car is going to look completely different – it’s going to have the same type of look as F1”, and its engine will be close to a turbocharged version of the current Mecachrome GP3 unit. Meanwhile, at Hungaroring we had the opportunity to take on the feelings held by different players about this topic, a revolution that is going to change the landscape of Formula 2 way more than what a change of name can do.
Said F1 look is a move well regarded by Sergio Canamasas: “I think F2 should follow the F1 pattern, but this is mainly a political topic.” And more so if we talk about engine architectures: “My ideal F2 has an atmospheric engine and no DRS aid. With respect to costs, an atmospheric is always cheaper than a turbo.” The ART driver and member of the Honda program for drivers development, Nobuharu Matsushita, clearly takes a side when the engine question arises: “Honestly, I love the sound of an F2 car. I would like to keep it, but I expect that we won’t…”
While Canamasas would be happy to race with the wings and dimensions now established in Formula 1, at the same time Santino Ferrucci seems concerned in some sense with the prospect of emulating the current aerodynamics of an F1 car. The Trident and Haas F1 driver points out that “the wings are going to be super small”, and that is going to make tyre degradation more important to permit overtaking, “so that we can follow closely and thus we can pass faster”.
Aaah… tyres. How on Earth were we not talking about tyres in the Pirelli era of top single-seater racing? Bruno Michel had talked about the search for a Bahrain F2 race degree of degradation for 2018. You know what? “The promoter doesn’t want us to change the size nor the philosophy of the tyres. We’ll stay with high degradation tyres for GP3 and F2. This is their clear request and we will follow his desire,” Mario Isola told Iberianmph. Does he have any idea about the final look of the new car? For sure he needs it if he’s going to offer tyres that fit the beast… No clue, apparently: “We are going to start the work on the new Formula 2 tyres in one month time.” Translation: They are going to work on them as soon as the new car is officially presented.
“I like the deg. A lot of people think it’s not pure racing, but at the end of the day they don’t understand that you are still pushing to a limit, it’s just a different type of limit,” said Ferrucci to us. “But what is more important is to make the cars easier to pass. Right now we have DRS, but otherwise it’s very difficult to follow another car. If degradation is the only thing we have, then passing becomes excruciating, so if Pirelli does switch to an F1 2017 sort of tyre it would be a good move, I think, because they’ve really done a good job limiting the deg. With thermal degradation, the tyres are finished with just 80% of their life, and then you need to take into account that the 2018 car will have more ground effect as well.” Matsushita speaks even clearer: “We should have less degradation. Now it is very difficult, because you can only push for a counted number of laps and then it drops, so I wish we could have a better tyre.”
Maybe drivers are not the ones who should have the last word in such a capital matter (in fact, current/potential F2 drivers are not allowed to take part in its development). It would be better for us to let Adrián Campos the final and succinct judgement: “The only thing I demand is equality. I don’t care about the details if it is the same for everybody and nobody is able to find an advantage. I want an F2 car as simple as possible, in order to allow everybody to get the same car. If the car is too complicated, the team with more resources will find it easier to find the setup window. In fact, at Campos we have good technology to do that, but not everyone has it and we are for take care of equality in a championship like F2. We are not taking part in the development. Everything is up to Dallara, the chassis designer, like it has been in IndyCar, FE… And they don’t need anything from us nor they have requested it, because they have many years of experience; 12 years in the case of GP2 and F2, which amounts to lots of data.”
Does he need to tell you again? Wait at least until the curtains are raised in the Monza presentation.